Art History Postgraduates

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Art History Postgraduates

Our PhD students conduct research in a wide variety of subject areas--to find out more about their work click on the tabs below.

Kirsty Haslam

Thesis Title: An Investigation into the social context and cultural impact of warfare in late medieval and early modern Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire

Research: Drawing on the North-east of Scotland's rich archival source material, particularly Aberdeen's extensive burgh records, and the evidence from material culture, including architecture, portraiture and weaponry, this project focuses on the changes and continuities between urban and rural communities’ attitudes to, and engagements, with warfare in the late medieval and early modern period. Analysis, focused on Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, allows for detailed discussion of regional military networks and investigates the potential for a united regional martial culture, shaped by influences both internal and external to the region. The work will argue that while urban and rural communities utilised many of the same resources and iconographical traditions against the same enemies there were key differences in how martial cultures developed and were articulated within the two communities. These differences were, in part, a reaction to influences external to the region, including the Crown, the proximity of the Highlands, other Scottish burghs, and overseas connections. This study aims to both deepen our understanding of the ongoing role warfare played in shaping the society and cultures of the North-east, and indeed Scotland more widely, challenging a number of normally limiting traditional boundaries, but also has implications for discussions of the nature of regionalism and community within Scotland. 

Genevieve Strong

Thesis Title: The Depiction of Gender and Technology in Neo-Victorian Art.

Research: My project analyses the neo-Victorian narratives in contemporary art that depict the relationship between gender and technological progress. Neo-Victorian Studies is a relatively new field of academic research which engages with the trend in contemporary media culture for creating narratives based on Victorian culture. Used most commonly in literary criticism, my project applies this approach to a combination of contemporary art theory and art history research. It will deepen understanding of what has driven this move towards neo-Victorian narratives in contemporary art, providing an analysis of its effects on wider society and proposing where it might develop in the future. 

I am using a methodology of combining new media theory with the history of photography to analyse references to technologies through medium transgression, applying the techniques of Neo Victorian Studies as well as key texts in Feminist Media Studies to address the topic of gender in more detail. My project explores how these two time periods have been contrasted through reference to technological advancement and the evolution of attitudes towards gender, with emphasis on the discourse comparing the industrial revolution to the digital revolution. While filling a hole in current art history and contemporary art discourse, it will suggest how Victorian art continues to influence and inspire contemporary artists, making the period relevant to contemporary discourse, and aims to be at the forefront of knowledge on interdisciplinary topics including art, media, gender and technology studies.

Supervisor: Dr Camilla Mork Rostvik and Dr Hans C. Hones

Haley Turner

Title: The Beauty of Purity: Saint Catherine of Alexandria as the Ideal Medieval Woman

Research: My research looks into medieval depictions of Saint Catherine of Alexandria, a widely revered and celebrated virgin martyr and one of the 14 Holy Helpers, across a large variety of mediums— particularly images coming from France and England—with the intention of demonstrating how her image was used as a model for the physical, spiritual, and social traits of the ideal woman of the time in that region both through her physical beauty and the types of situations that she was most commonly depicted in.

This includes uncovering the patrons of several items and looking at their personal values and devotions as we can understand them through primary documents like journals, personal devotionals, firsthand accounts of their personage, other commissions that they made, and larger contextual evidence like familial/dynastic legacies. I also spend time tracing the locations of relics and reliquaries of St. Catherine and the cathedrals that housed them, many of which have been lost to time, and a few of which played a role in influencing international history.

Additionally, a fair portion of my work goes into understanding what the ideal woman of the era actually looked like, both physically and behaviorally, by evaluating contemporary images of revered noble women and reviewing treatises on medieval cosmetic routines to assess what the standard of physical beauty was during this time, as well as reviewing spiritual tutelage and various forms of social commentary from the historical record to also understand how a woman should behave and present herself according to the standards of the time.

All of this is done with the goal of discovering why the image of St. Catherine specifically was so pervasive in medieval France and England and how the depictions of her served as a form of instruction to onlookers.


Supervisor: Joanne Anderson