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Make Your Own Phenakistoscope: Experimental Media Archaeology and Nineteenth-Century Optical Toys

Venue: Birkbeck 43 Gordon Square

An interactive workshop that gives you the opportunity to create and discuss nineteenth-century optical toys. In-person.

Were nineteenth-century optical toys just children’s playthings? Is there more to say about them thirty years after Jonathan Crary spotlighted them for scholars’ attention? And most importantly, are they still relevant today? Informed by experimental media archaeology, this interactive session aims to discuss these topics by inviting you to make your own phenakistoscope using pre-made templates, from scratch, or even following nineteenth-century instructions. Drawing from our experience in the workshop, we will then have an informal discussion of methodologies used in researching nineteenth-century optical toys and the legacy of these recreations in the twenty-first century.     
Participants do not need to bring anything with them to attend the event. Phenakistoscope making will involve cutting, pasting, and potentially drawing and requires a low level of manual dexterity.   
Shijia Yu is an Associate Research Fellow at Birkbeck. Drawing on media archaeology and material culture studies, Shijia’s research is interested in how the paper peepshow can be used as a tool to expand our understanding of nineteenth-century visual entertainments and print novelties, as well as the use of embodied knowledge in visual culture studies. 


This event is in-person at Birkbeck's School of Arts, as part of Arts Week 2022.  

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