Self-funded PhD opportunities

Visualising History

  • Application end date: All year round
  • Funding Availability: Self-funded PhD students only
  • Department: School of Art and Design
  • PhD Supervisor: Dr Oliver Gruner

Project detail:

History is being written every day. From the academic monograph to the epic film, statue, television programme and website, the past continues to impact, inspire and enrage us. The recent groundswell of commemorative events dedicated to World War I, heated conflicts over the legacy of British imperialist Cecil Rhodes, and cultural fascination with epochs such as the 1960s (to name but a few) have only reiterated the stake still invested in the ways in which we ‘do history’.

This doctoral study will focus on the contributions made by visual culture to historiography. In line with the university’s aims to examine the nature of democratic citizenship and the rich and varied ways in which people encounter history and heritage, the successful candidate will explore the profound impact images can have on our conception of the past. How do popular histories affect our ideas of nationhood and national belonging? To what extent have certain groups, cultures and/or identities been marginalised, or ‘hidden’ from history? How might one go about constructing alternative histories of local or national communities? Such questions reach beyond academia and impact the very ways in which we engage with contemporary life.

The PhD will be located in the School of Art and Design, which has research strengths in both the historical/theoretical implications of visualising the past (in film, graphic novels, television, art and photography) and critical practice-based approaches to this topic. We would therefore be delighted to consider proposals for both written and practice-based PhDs.

The successful candidate will explore historical representations as they have appeared in one or more visual media. The work can take the form of a written analysis of how particular epochs, peoples or events have appeared in visual culture (e.g. comic books, photography, art works, films or television programmes), a reflection on historiography itself – and attendant methodological, ethical and ideological considerations – or a theoretically informed visual output. The proposal should highlight both the topic to be addressed and the methodological approach(es) – archival, textual analysis, practice-based – the candidate will adopt.

How to apply:

To apply or make an enquiry, please visit postgraduate research: Art and Design

Applications should use our standard application forms and follow the instructions given under the ‘Research Degrees’ heading on the following webpage:

If you have any questions on this bursary then please contact Dr Oliver Gruner: