Department of History of Art (Historical Studies)

  • BS8 1UU

    United Kingdom

Organization profile

Organisation profile

Historical Studies at Bristol consist of two subject areas, History of Art and History, which each have their own degree programme, though students are encouraged to treat staff across the departments as a collective resource. What is distinctive about both in combination is the way in which their research is made outward-looking, directed both into the activities of students and to audiences and partners outside as well as within the academic system. This characteristic is manifested in a number of different ways:

  • In degree programmes which aim to turn students into practising historians and art historians by the time that they graduate, enabling them to learn the essential skills of professionals and to research and write history and art history for themselves.
  • In a broad spectrum of engagement with public bodies and arenas, including English Heritage, various museums and art galleries, schools, writers’ groups, government departments and film and television companies. We have a 'Public History' pathway to the History MA programme and hold an annual festival of history, Past Matters, for the citizens of Bristol and friends. A parallel strand in the History of Art MA offers a number of curatorial units in collaboration with museum partners locally and nationally.
  • In an interest in major themes which cut across chronological and disciplinary boundaries in research and teaching, such as the environment, the body, and visual and material culture.
  • In the continued development of a broad span of subjects for teaching and research, allowing plenty of choice to students and staff alike, with particular strengths in the medieval and early modern, modern and contemporary periods, and in imperial and colonial history.
  • In a participation in the widest possible spans of academic collaboration and association, including a particular input into the World University Network.
  • Staff and postgraduate students in the Department of History of Art are engaged in a wide range of individual and collaborative research activity. The Department plays a key role in University research initiatives, and in developments with collaborators across a wide range of institutions, nationally and internationally.

There are critical masses of activity in a number of areas (medieval visual culture, interrelationships in art and music and European Modernism especially) and these are complemented by research on other themes and periods.

Research themes include

  • Medieval and Renaissance art
  • 17th-century Italian art
  • Modernisms (including British modern and contemporary art)
  • Audio-visual culture
  • Soviet visual culture
  • German Expressionism
  • Art and Writing

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    Photo of Bergit Arends
    Photo of Stephen Bann

    Professor Stephen Bann

    Person: Honorary and Visiting Academic


    Research Output

    David Dances before the Ark

    Williamson, B., 22 Jun 2020, King’s College London.

    Research output: Other contribution

  • Improvision: Orphic Art in the Age of Jazz

    Shaw-Miller, S., 2020, (In preparation) New York: Bloomsbury Academic.

    Research output: Book/ReportAuthored book

  • Looking beneath the surface: Subterranean space in the Kutná Hora Cantional

    Donkin, L., 23 May 2020, Illuminating the Middle Ages. Cleaver, L., Bovey, A. & Donkin, L. (eds.). Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in a book


    Student theses

    Aeropittura, futurism and space in the 1930s : Continuity, innovation and reception

    Author: Sai, E., 2010

    Supervisor: O'Mahony, M. (Supervisor)

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Education (EdD)


    Art Writing and Subjectivity: Critical Association in Art-Historical Practice

    Author: Lloyd, L., 23 Jan 2019

    Supervisor: Brockington, G. (Supervisor) & Dent, P. (Supervisor)

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)



    Andy Warhol Foundation award

    Price, Dorothy C (Recipient), 3 Dec 2012

    Prize: Prizes, Medals, Awards and Grants

    British Academy Conference Grant

    Brockington, Grace (Recipient), 2006

    Prize: Other distinction

  • Activities

    Cambridge University Press (Publisher)

    Beth Williamson (Peer reviewer)

    Jan 2020Mar 2020

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPublication peer-review

    Art Bulletin (Journal)

    Beth Williamson (Peer reviewer)

    Jan 2020Mar 2020

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPublication peer-review

    Maria (Journal)

    Beth Williamson (Editorial board member)

    2020 → …

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditorial activity