PhD studentship opportunity in Artists at Home: Self-Representation and the Construction of Celebrity, 1870-1915

Project Description

This collaborative doctoral project, supervised jointly by the staff members from the University of Surrey and Watts Gallery-Artists’ Village, will provide the first significant examination of the artist’s home in Victorian popular culture, and consider the roles played by photography, biography, correspondence, and journalism in fashioning national and international celebrity. It will culminate in an exhibition at Watts Gallery in Compton, Surrey and a permanent digital exhibition that will appear on the gallery’s website: both of which will be curated by the successful candidate.

The doctoral student will work primarily with materials in the Rob Dickins Collection: This rich, yet unworked, archive includes 3500 photographs of over 1000 artists and leading nineteenth-century figures plus over 1000 artists’ letters. It includes photographs and texts relating to artist celebrities such as George Frederick Watts and the Pre-Raphaelites, including Holman Hunt and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and of sculptors such as Thomas Woolner and William Hamo Thornycroft, as well as resources concerning Royal Academicians who have since faded from public consciousness such as Sir John Gilbert, Briton Riviere, and Joseph Edgar Boehm. In addition, it includes rare items such as Holman Hunt’s family album and ‘The Red Album’, composed of letters, photographs and biographies of artists. Additionally, the student will research relevant articles in the periodical press of the long nineteenth century and engage with significant criticism in the fields of art history and celebrity culture.

The project’s main strands of enquiry will be: a) the politics of the studio space; b) constructions of the artist and artistic networks; c) technological innovations; d) public investment in and reception of artistic celebrity. The candidate might address:
• The artists’ and/or photographers’ curation of interior and exterior spaces
• Comparative analyses of photographic and textual representations of the artistic self
• Artistic influences and networks suggested by the artworks featured in photographic illustrations
• The construction of artistic identity in the popular press and elite publications
• The role of the artist in the celebrity culture of the long nineteenth century

The successful applicant will benefit from expertise in the School of Literature and Languages at the University of Surrey and Watts Gallery-Artists’ Village. All three members of the supervisory team have research interests and experience in related areas. First Supervisor, Patricia Pulham, is Professor of Victorian Literature: has extensive supervision experience. She has established reputation as an interdisciplinary scholar who has published widely on literature and the visual arts. Dr Lucy Ella Rose, Lecturer in Victorian Literature: is a specialist in Victorian literature, feminisms and visual culture and has published on artistic collaboration. She has extensive experience of archival research at Watts Gallery. Third supervisor, Cicely Robinson is Brice Curator at Watts Gallery-Artists’ Village. She specialises in nineteenth-century British art and has substantial curatorial and collections experience.

How to Apply:
Candidates should:

1. Have a strong academic record including a high Merit or Distinction (or equivalent) in a relevant Masters degree in English Literature or Art History

2. Be a resident of the UK or European Economic Area (EEA).

Preference will be given to candidates whose qualifications reflect interdisciplinary interests in the literature and visual culture of the long nineteenth century.

Your application must include:

· A writing sample of your work ( 3–4,000 words).

· A letter of application (maximum 1000 words) explaining how your current academic interests relate to the doctoral project, your reasons for applying for the studentship, and how your prior education and other experiences have equipped you to undertake the project.

Deadline for applications: 21st June 2018.
Interviews will take place on Monday 2nd July 2018.

Funding Notes

Full scholarships (covers Home fee and stipend of £14,777)
Terms and conditions
All stipends will be paid on a monthly basis.
There are no bench fees or research training support grants attached to this award.
We welcome applications from both full- and part time students.
The successful candidate will become a member of the University of Surrey’s Doctoral College: (see website) which provides institutional support and training for postgraduate reseachers.


Your application should include two academic references in support of your application. The names and contact details of your referees should be entered in the Referees section of the application form.
Your referees should be qualified to comment on your academic ability and should not be from people related to you by blood or marriage. You are responsible for contacting your referees and ensuring that all necessary references are received. References can be submitted on headed paper or using the referee’s report form. Your referees should return their references by email to:


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