Joss Marsh is Associate Professor of English and Victorian Studies at Indiana University, Bloomington. She is the author of *Word Crimes: Blasphemy, Culture, and Literature in 19th-Century England* (1998), a book unusual amongst academic works in having been described as both "monumental" and "a page turner," and numerous essays on Dickens, Chaplin, the 19th-century novel and film, Victorian visual culture, celebrity, film stardom, and the magic lantern.
She has a long-standing commitment to public lecturing and public outreach and has collaborated in the production of four documentaries with the BBC. She also occasionally submits to the discipline of theatrical performance—most recently as Widow Corney in Oliver! (Cardinal Stage), Lady Bracknell in The Importance of being Earnest, (Detour Productions), and Scrooge (in drag, for the BPP)—and values the different kind of knowledge it can offer.
Since 2006, with her research partner, David Francis OBE, she has been deeply involved in reconstructive magic lantern performance and lecturing, using original slides, authentic texts, and an 1891 tri-unnial lantern, at: the Cinemateca Portuguesa (Lisbon), the Dickens Universe (UC Santa Cruz), the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, the Pacific Film Archive, U Michigan, the Museum of Modern Art, the National Gallery of Art (D.C.), and (most recently, with the assistance of a New Frontiers grant), the Harvard Film Archive and Yale University (NAVSA).
The areas of the lantern repertoire and of Victorian culture these shows have helped Joss and David research and explore, to date, have included: the relationship between visual story-telling with the lantern and cinematic narrative; temperance propaganda; religious and missionary uses of the lantern; the Victorian "Service of Song" (a mix of story, images, and music: a form of nineteenth-century "musical"); the representation of movement, especially railway travel; the illuminated fairy tale; and the extraordinary multi-media career of the late Victorian celebrity writer George R. Sims. They presented on Sims in London, in the premises which once housed the Royal Polytechnic, the center of the late-Victorian lantern world, in April 2009; in January 2009, they presented "The Magic Carpet," on lantern-assisted virtual travel, at the Vienna Art Museum/Film Archive.