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Art History professor receives NEH grant for research into coronation spectacles in British colonial India

March 03, 2004

TEMPE, Ariz. – Julie F. Codell, an Art History professor in the Herberger College of Fine Arts at ASU, has received a $40,000 National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship to support her research into Indian coronation celebrations.

The Delhi coronation durbars, extravagant celebrations of British imperialism considered among the greatest Victorian invented traditions, celebrated the English monarchs as emperor or empress of India. They were held for three English monarchs: Victoria in 1877; Edward VII in 1903; and George V in 1911 (the only one to attend). Each had its own imperial theme, political agendas, lavish rituals, military and sporting events, and exhibitions of Indian art. The durbars were the creations of the viceroys, who held the highest political position in India.

“ Through the creation of visual media, these spectacles constructed a social memory and a celebratory history to legitimize British rule in India,” says Codell. “The durbars resulted in rich literary and visual cultures in many media, which were widely disseminated around the globe: painting, press illustration, photography, official keepsake books, individual memoirs and film.”

These celebrations also were used to try to accommodate increasing Indian resistance to British rule. Codell currently is researching and writing a book that will study the durbars' contexts, visual images and media in relation to the British Raj and Indian cultural politics during the volatile decades before World War I.

In addition to teaching art history, Codell is a professor of English and an affiliate faculty in Asian Studies at ASU.

Codell’s numerous articles on Victorian culture have appeared in many scholarly journals, anthologies and encyclopedias. She wrote The Victorian Artist (Cambridge UP, 2003) and edited Imperial Co-Histories: National Identities in the British and Colonial Press (Fairleigh Dickinson UP, 2003.) Her essay on the Maharajah of Baroda's art collections appears in the recentJournal of the History of Collections (2003) and an essay on Gandhi's autobiography in a forthcoming anthology edited by David Amigoni (Ashgate, 2004).

The Katherine K. Herberger College of Fine Arts at Arizona State University educates more than 2,500 students annually and encompasses the School of Art, the School of Music, the Department of Theatre and the Department of Dance, as well as the research-based Institute for Studies in the Arts and the ASU Art Museum. Visit the Herberger College School of Art on the Web at

Media Contact:
Jennifer Pringle