The department of Art History and World Art Studies has for many years developed a uniquely wide-ranging, diverse and inter-disciplinary research culture. We have expertise in Art History, Archaeology, Anthropology and Egyptology, and as a department work alongside two further research units focused upon the study of World Art: the Sainsbury Research Unit for the Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas (SRU), and the Sainsbury Institute for Japanese Arts and Cultures (SISJAC).
The department therefore engages in scholarly work of a uniquely broad scope: from Ancient Mesopotamia to West Africa (in both its prehistoric and modern moments); and from medieval Norwich to early modern Europe, 20th-century India, and contemporary New York. Even when focused upon subject matter that is seemingly remote, historically and geographically, from our own situation, we aim to bring the pressure of the deepest and widest of histories to bear upon the present moment. Particular strengths areas in teaching and research include: American art, medieval art and architecture, postcolonial discourse, and the relationship between technology and the archive.
This range of interests, unrivalled in scope amongst Art History departments in the UK, is clustered around two research groups. The groups involve staff members and postgraduate students, and serve to both foster dialogue and to provide a launchpad for research projects and events. The two groups are:
Art, Politics and Modernities. This group focuses upon modern artwork, its reception and its complex intersections with the emergence of modern social, technological and political conditions.
Material Histories: Past, Present, Future. This group focuses upon the long history of human material cultures and, speaking most broadly, is fundamentally concerned with relationships between people and objects: multi-sensory engagements with things, constructed narratives arising from such material engagements, the crafting of things, and, finally, material aspects of spatial location and experience.
The department of Art History and World Art Studies has for decades been producing major, world-leading publications and projects. In 2015 the department hosted the Association of Art Historians Annual Conference, and in the 2014 UK Research Excellence Framework (REF) its research was rated 2nd for Impact nationwide.
We are an open, dynamic, and forward-thinking department that has consistently challenged conventional divisions of scholarly activity.
Read more about our Research Areas.