Research

I work on modern and contemporary art and visual culture, with a specific interest in the histories and theories of the body and embodiment, gender and sexuality. My research also engages with the politics of revival and uses of the past in art historiography and aesthetics. I am particularly invested in feminist and queer interventions in art history and its institutions (museums, collecting and curating).

My current project 'Connoisseurial Intimacies' is funded by the Leverhulme Trust and exmines the import of psychological aesthetics in the experimental practice of connoisseurship (1870-1930). This work looks at the body cultures of modernity in order to explore how connoisseurs invested physical objects in museums and art galleries with agency to produce identifications with the past, to shape forms of sexual dissidence, but also to deal with cultural anxieties about cultural identity and ethnicity. This research will contribute to a monograph in which I consider the writings of such diverse 'art writers' as Walter Benjamin, Bernard and Mary Berenson, Roger Fry, Vernon Lee, Giovanni Morelli, Maud Cruttwell, Ottoline Morrell, Karl Groos, Théodule Ribot, Erwin Panofsky and Aby Warburg.

A second aim of this research is to reassess the role of women in the formation of disciplinary art history at the turn of the twentieth century and the role museums and galleries played in it. I have conducted extensive archival research on Mary Berenson, Maud Cruttwell and Constance Jocelyn Ffoulkes and I have co-organised with Meaghan Clarke the research forum 'Women and the Culture of Connoisseurship' (2015). 

Another strand of my research deals with art and feminism in the 1970s. I am co-editing a volume with Giovanna Zapperi titled Art and Feminism in Post-War Italy: The Legacy of Carla Lonzi (IB Tauris). I am also looking at the Italian-American artist and founder of the Cooperativa Beato Angelico Suzanne Santoro, and how her work and writings can be used to explore feminist iconologies and queer temporalities.

I am interested in supervising doctoral projects dealing with feminist, queer and postcolonial interventions in art historiography and visual culture, feminism and art history in the 20th century (especially the Mediterranean region), the afterlives of classicism and the renaissance in modern art and culture, the relationship between revival and imperialism across the Mediterranean. I am especially keen on projects exploring intersections between collections and archives, creative and life writing, trauma and cultural memory.