Dr Karl Kinsella

Dr Karl Kinsella
Dr Karl Kinsella
Dr Karl Kinsella


Accepting PhDs



  • MSt Medieval Studies 
    2011 - University of Oxford 
  • DPhil History 
    2016 - University of Oxford 

External Memberships

British Archaeological Association (Council Member)

Latest Publications

  • Building Meaning: Medieval Architectural Representations

    Kinsella, K., Bailey, H., Thomas, D.
    Arc Humanities Press
    Books and Reports: Books
  • Introduction

    Kinsella, K.
    Building Meaning: Medieval Architectural Representations. Thomas, D., Bailey, H. (eds.). Arc Humanities Press
    Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Chapters
  • God's Own Language: Architectural Drawing in the Twelfth Century

    Kinsella, K.
    The MIT Press. 240 pages
    Books and Reports: Books
  • Visual Exegesis at St. Victor and its Jewish Parallels

    Kinsella, K.
    Studies of the Sacred Page. Leyser, H., Sweetman, R. (eds.). Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies
    Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Chapters
  • A medieval architectural vision

    Kinsella, K.
    Thinking 3D: Books, Images and Ideas from Leonardo to the Present. Bodleian Library
    Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Chapters

View My Publications

Prizes and Awards

Hawksmoor Medal in Architectural History 2013


Research Overview

My research examines the development of architectural drawing and the role of architecture in the imagination of contemporary viewers (1100-1400). I am a cultural historian who focuses on representations of buildings in manuscripts, mosaics and in sculpture. My research to date places priority on the interaction between word and image in architectural contexts, especially theological texts written in Latin.  

Research Areas

Accepting PhDs

I am currently accepting PhDs in Art History.

Please get in touch if you would like to discuss your research ideas further.

Email Me

Art History

Accepting PhDs

Research Specialisms

  • Medieval History
  • History of Architecture

Our research specialisms are based on the Higher Education Classification of Subjects (HECoS) which is HESA open data, published under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence.

Current Research


My current research draws on a variety of sources to establish possible theories of architecture in late medieval Europe. Collections of art and architectural theoretical texts frequently leave out the Middle Ages, a period of time that arguably defined much of the urban space throughout Europe. The impression is a period populated by those who were apathetic about the buildings that defined their towns and cities, which is far from the truth. There were contemporary criteria by which art and architecture were judged, but they are not collected within a singular treatiuse like those by Vitruvius or Alberti. My current research aims to fill the gap between these two well-known authors.

Past Research

My books, 'God's Own Language: Architectural Drawing in the Twelfth Century' will be published by MIT Press in 2022. It focuses on the Scottish theologian Richard of Saint Victor and his commentary on the book of Ezekiel from the later twelfth century. Richard provides over a dozen plans and elevations to illustrate what exactly the prophet saw and draws on contemporary developments in the practice of geometry to do so. The commentary's drawings are filled with details and Richard is the first to refer to a ground plan drawing as a 'plan'. 

I have also written on the enigmatic twelfth-century author Honorius Augustodunensis (Also known as Honorius of Autun), and his architectural commentary, which embeds each part the church building with meaning. For Honorius the columns are the bishops who support the church, the windows are the learned men who keep people safe from the storms of heresy, and even the roof tiles are the armies who keep the people safe from harm. 

Knowledge Exchange

I have given public talks to adults and children on a variety of architectural subjects from Hittite sculpture (Ashmolean Museum) to medieval cathedrals.

I appeared on radio to discuss Notre-Dame Cathedral in wake of the fire in 2019.


The Architectural Represenatation Research Network


I am happy to take PhD students who intend to work on:

Medieval Architecture (1000-1500)

Early Architectural Drawings and Diagrams

Medieval Visual Culture and Christianity


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Books and Reports

Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings

Contributions to Journals

Non-textual Forms