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Higher Degrees by Research

Supervision is available in the following fields of Art History, Curatorship and Museology:

  • Portraiture and identity
  • Northern art, society and culture (1400-1700), especially Renaissance
  • Representations of gender and the body
  • Avatar creation (physical and psychological) in virtual worlds
  • Art censorship and iconoclasm
  • Australian art: colonial/postcolonial, modern, contemporary and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art
  • Cosmopolitanism, expatriate Australian artists and globalism
  • The representation of war and peace by women artists
  • Curatorship, museology, and the exhibitionary complex
  • International modern art
  • Contemporary art
  • Artist’s letters
  • Gender and Art

HDR Supervisors

  • Current PhD Students
    Ralph Body

    Behind the Scenes: Hans Heysen’s Art World Networks

    My research considers the significant role played by Hans Heysen’s art world networks in establishing, shaping and maintaining his career and reputation.   These encompassed fellow artists, art critics, publishers, dealers, collectors and museum trustees and directors.   Due to Heysen’s geographical isolation written correspondence played an essential role in his long-distance career management and his letters provide valuable insights into the importance of his networks.

    Sarah Gibson Walker

    The visual culture of the suffrage-era in South Australia 1880-1914

    My thesis focuses on the visual culture during the suffrage-era in South Australia, whilst also exploring the social, historical and cultural contexts in which South Australian women artists worked during this time.

    Alex Mowbray

    The contemporary nude in the digital age

    The body in art has evolved into a complex and multifaceted subject of representation. The commodification of the body in popular culture, combined with the increasing role of digital media in our daily lives, has changed the way the artistic nude is produced and interpreted. My research explores the ways in which representations of the nude body in contemporary art transgress conventional boundaries.

    Dana Rehn

    The Big Bad Wolf: Representations of the “Other” in German Renaissance Prints 

    This research is in the field of early modern European art with a focus on the representation of the ‘Other’, which explores themes of human-animal hybridity and transformation. Her thesis examines the motif of the canine-human hybrid in German Renaissance prints with the preliminary title of The Big Bad Wolf: Representations of the “Other” in German Renaissance Prints.

    Nerina Dunt

    Urban Indigenous Art and its socio-political aesthetics

    This thesis investigates the trajectory of urban Indigenous art from 1984-2013, paying particular attention to the socio-political aesthetic which has been a mainstay of the movement. This  aesthetic, which has  been  motivated by particular events in Australian history, has promoted  alternative histories and truths, all the while contributing to the diverse fabric of Australian contemporary art.

    Susan Woodburn

    Alexander Schramm (1813-64) and the visual representation of Aboriginal people in colonial Australia  

    This thesis is an investigation of a body of work created by Berlin-born artist Alexander Schramm (1813-64) in the fifteen years between his arrival in South Australia in 1849 and his death in December 1864. This work consisted of representations of groups of Aboriginal people in camps and travelling, and scenes featuring interactions between Aboriginal people and white settlers, all seemingly set in the vicinity of Adelaide. The body of work is not large, but represents more than half of Schramm’s known Australian oeuvre, and constituted the principal part of his offerings shown competitively and for sale at the exhibitions of the Society of Arts, despite the fact that Schramm initially set up as a portrait painter, and was regarded as such in his obituary.

    Rong Fan: Tholing Monastery

    The Contemporary Challenges of Conserving a Living Buddhist Heritage Site in Tibet Autonomous Region

    The main purpose of this thesis is to investigate the current state of heritage conservation at Tholing Monastery as a living Buddhist monastery in TAR. This includes how, and to what extent, cultural heritage conservation at the monastery has been influenced by the national and international trends of conservation and how compatible are these trends of conservation with the Tibetan cultural and religious tradition.

    Jennifer Kalionis

    Ethical Spectatorship:  Audience, artist and the issue of trust in contemporary performance art  

    Performance art audiences engage in spectatorship that is underpinned by affect, immediacy, participation and provocation. However some artists test the role of the audience and the boundaries between spectator and artist in a manner that challenges the ethical position of all involved, and this thesis proposes the ‘accomplice model’ as part of inherited understandings of the implications of spectatorship in contemporary performance and participatory art since 1968.
  • Completed Art History PhDs

    Melanie Cooper-Dobbin, Beings of nature and reason: mythological masculinities in early 18th-century French art and visual culture, PhD, University of Adelaide, 2016

    Margot Osborne, Post-imperial perspectives: British art since 1940 at the Art Gallery of South Australia, PhD, University of Adelaide, 2015

    Carol Gilchrist, Gestural abstraction in Australian art 1947 – 1963: repositioning the work of Albert Tucker, University of Adelaide, 2015

    Jennifer Harris, The development of the Japanese art collection at the Art Gallery of South Australia, PhD, University of Adelaide, 2012

    Avis Smith, Changing Fortunes: The History of China Painting in South Australia, PhD, University of Adelaide, 2009

Research Fellows

  • Professor Ian North AMAdjunct Professor

    Ian North is a prolific publisher. He has produced a number of ground-breaking books and articles over the years including his books on Margaret Preston and Dorrit Black, while his more recent publications on how the revolution in Aboriginal art is reshaping Australian art are at the cutting edge of debate.

    Complementing his written publications, Ian's art work is held in numerous high profile national collections including the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Victoria, the Art Gallery of New South Wales and the Art Gallery of South Australia.

  • Professor Pamela Gerrish NunnAdjunt Professor

    Professor Pamela Gerrish Nunn has degrees from the University of Leicester (UK) and University College London, and has taught the History of Art since 1977.

    She is well-known internationally as a specialist in the histories of women artists from the 19th century to the present, through books including Canvassing (1986), Victorian Women Artists (1987), Problem Pictures (1995) and From Victorian to Modern (2006), and ground-breaking exhibitions such as Pre-Raphaelite Women Artists (1996-7, with Jan Marsh) and Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale: A Pre-Raphaelite Journey (2012).

    She has also contributed to international essay collections with English, American and French colleagues including The Rise of the Modern Art Market in London 1850-1939, edited by Fletcher and Helmreich (2011), and Aesthetic Lives, edited by Coste and Delyfer (2013).

    Since moving from England to New Zealand in 1989 she has also developed an interest in New Zealand art, lecturing and writing on New Zealand artists past and present, and will curate an exhibition of the work of Frances Hodgkins for the New Zealand National Portrait Gallery in 2017. After leaving her professorial post at the University of Canterbury (Christchurch) in 2009, and in addition to her Adjunct position at the University of Adelaide, Pamela works as an independent scholar and curator, currently based near Wellington.

  • Dr Georgina DowneyVisiting Research Fellow

    Georgina is a historian of Australian and European art. Her PhD (2005), undertaken in the School of Art, Architecture and Design at the University of South Australia, focussed on the work of Margaret Preston, Bessie Davidson and Stella Bowen. Her doctorate explained how their relocation to modernist centres of Paris and London in the early twentieth century introduced new subject matter and in particular underscored their exploration of the domestic interior.

    Georgina has published widely on visual and material cultures around the domestic interior in art, in pursuit of which she has received an Australian Academy of the Humanities Travel Grant (2006) and University of Adelaide small research grants.

    Her most recent books are Domestic Interiors: Representing Home from the Victorians to the Moderns, (2013) and Designing the French Interior: The Modern Home and Mass Media (edited with Anca Lasc and Mark Taylor 2015) both published by Bloomsbury.

    Her research interests are: modern and contemporary art and visual culture; envisioning the interior art and design history, photography and cosmopolitanism.

  • Dr Jennifer HarrisVisiting Research Fellow

    Jennifer is a graduate of the Art History and Curatorial and Museum Studies at the University of Adelaide. Her PhD (2013) was entitled The formation of the Japanese art collection at the Art Gallery of South Australia 1904-1940: tangible evidence of Bunmei kaika; and her Master of Arts thesis (2005) examined the calligraphic screens by Ichikawa Beian (1779-1858).

    She was the curator of Netsuke and other miniatures and author of the accompanying book (2014) at the Art Gallery of South Australia and provided curatorial and research assistance with the exhibitions Crescent Moon: Islamic art of Southeast Asia (2005) and The Golden Journey: Japanese art from Australian collections (2009) as well as displays in the Asian galleries.

    Her research interests are: Japanese art from the late Edo period and Meiji era especially the applied arts and calligraphy; the history of international Japanese art collections; Japonisme and the cross-cultural dialogue between Japanese art and Western art practices; and nineteenth century artistic contacts between Australia and Japan. She is the author of the book Netsuke and other miniatures from the Japanese collection, AGSA (2014).

    She has contributed to AGSA catalogues The world of Mortimer Menpes: painter, etcher, raconteur (2014) and The Golden Journey (2009). She has lectured and tutored in numerous Art History courses at the University of Adelaide: Japanese Art, Asian Art, Decorative Arts and the Master of Arts Curatorial and Museum Studies. She also supervises Masters students.

  • Dr Philip JonesSenior Visiting Research Fellow

    Philip is a graduate in law and history from the University of Adelaide. His Ph.D. thesis, titled 'A box of native things: ethnographic collectors and the South Australian Museum, 1830s-1930s' involved a re-examination of the Aboriginal-European frontiers in Australia, and centred on the idea that objects and their histories can unlock new perspectives on frontier relations. This theme was further explored in his Ochre and Rust. Artefacts and Encounters on Australian Frontiers (Wakefield Press, 2007).

    Philip has also published widely in the fields of material culture and collections, ethnographic photography, exploration and anthropological history, the history of Afghan cameleers in Australia, and art history. He is currently writing a biography of the colonial artist and naturalist, George French Angas. Earlier in 2014 he published a detailed art history reassessing the landmark Warlpiri art 'installation' of 30 school doors painted at Yuendumu during 1984, in a book titled Behind the Doors. An Art History from Yuendumu (South Australian Museum & Wakefield Press. 2014). Philip has worked as a curator in the Department of Anthropology at the South Australian Museum since the 1980s. He lectures in art history and museology at the University of Adelaide.

  • Dr Melanie Cooper Visiting Research Fellow

    Melanie is a practising visual artist who graduated with a PhD from the University of Adelaide in 2017. Her thesis explored representations of mythological masculinities in eighteenth-century French art and visual culture as a means through which to build upon understandings of perceptions and expectations of gender during this period.

    In addition to representations of gender and sexuality, her research interests include mythology and folklore, Enlightenment studies, naturalism and theories of sensationism and epicurean stoicism.

    Melanie currently serves on the editorial committee of Ceræ: An Australasian Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies and ANZECS (Australian and New Zealand Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies). She also writes on contemporary art for online publications including Verso and Fine Print. Her paper ‘Meeting the Locals: Mythical Images of the Indigenous Other in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries’ is soon to appear in an edited volume of essays to be published by the University of Delaware Press (eds. Nicola Parsons and Jennifer Milam).

  • Dr Margot Osborne Visiting Research Fellow

    Visiting research fellow Margot Osborne completed her doctoral thesis in the Department of Art History, University of Adelaide, in 2016. Her thesis, titled Post-Imperial Perspectives: British Art since 1940 at the Art Gallery of South Australia, analyses AGSA’s patterns of collecting modern and contemporary  British art in the context of diminishing British influence in Australia since the Second World War.

    As an extension of this field of research, over the next two to three years she is undertaking research towards a proposed publication on The Adelaide Art Scene since 1940.



Art History and Curatorial and Museum Studies

722 Napier Building
The University of Adelaide


Ph: +61 8 8313 4249
Fax: +61 8 8313 4341
School of Humanities