Our History of Art and Design PhD students enjoy a close-knit and highly supportive academic community that makes optimum use of a range of expertise and can work with your interests whether single-disciplinary, interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary.
We have a university centre of research and enterprise excellence in the Centre for Design History. Another important focus for many research initiatives has been the holdings of the internationally significant Design Archives, located in the university’s city campus. Consisting of a collection of over twenty specialist archives of individual designers and British and global design organisations from the twentieth century, they form the starting point for original research projects culminating in PhD theses, publications and exhibitions.
History of art and design PhD research at the University of Brighton is at the forefront in determining the scope, territory and focus of the subject to understand how art and design in all forms have shaped things, spaces and actions across time. Research students draw on the wide-ranging academic expertise of staff in the fields of the history of decorative arts and design, dress history, visual and material culture, feminist art history, museology and social history.
We encourage innovative and interdisciplinary study in both their western and non-western contexts, engaging with methods drawn from history, anthropology, cultural studies and practice disciplines to understand the relationship between local, national and transnational patterns of production, circulation, consumption and use.
We offer supervision in the history of art and design from 1800 to the present including:
- Design and material culture
- Fashion, dress and textiles
- Graphic, industrial and interior design
- Cultural politics
- Feminist art practice
- Craft and the decorative arts
- Institutions of art and design
- Museum studies
- Asian art and design
- Photographic history
- Art history and visual culture.
PhD students have access to regular staff events, often organised in collaboration with students, including staff research presentations, workshops, symposia, conferences and specialist training sessions offered through the University’s membership of the TECHNE and Design Star doctoral consortia. IOTA, a longstanding series of reading groups, workshops and seminars welcomes contributions and participation from all researchers.
As a Brighton PhD student, you will be able to draw on research approaches from a variety of cognate fields, including social science, environmental science, media, design and the humanities. You will benefit from a supervisory team comprising at least two academic staff from the School of Humanities. Depending on your research specialism and needs, you may also have an additional supervisor from another School, another research institution or external partner.
Your PhD research may align with the specialist expertise of individual members of staff. Researchers within History of Art and Design engage in work across a wide range of topics. Current research themes include:
- the cultural history of art and design - their production, appreciation and collection - with a specific interest in how gender (male and female roles) organises the character and function of objects
- the art and visual culture practices which arise from the desire to effect political change; mass photography and popular image culture
- the understanding of materiality and visuality with focus on sites of conflict and imprisonment and the spaces of industrial exploitation
In addition, the Centre for Design History, one of the university's centres for research and enterprise excellence has five identified research strands:
- Transnational Design: Thinking across Borders exploring methodologies for tracing design exchange, networks and circuits as a contribution to expanded geographies of design history and theory
- Design and the Economy: investigating design’s role – past, present and future - in driving and supporting national and global business, trade and industry, particularly in a post-Brexit world
- Fashion and Dress Histories: focusing on the role of dress in everyday life and in the formation and communication of social, cultural and political identities across time and place
- Graphic Design in an Expanded Field: investigating how graphic design across diverse media intersects socially and spatially with the urban experience and the identity politics of various communities.
- Museums, Archives, Exhibitions: examining the social, economic and political agency of museums, archives and exhibitions as designed objects.