Dr Camilla Smith BA, M.Phil, PhD (University of Birmingham)

Dr Camilla Smith

Department of Art History, Film and Visual Studies

Contact details

Barber Institute
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

I specialise in eighteenth-century Swiss, and to a lesser extent, British visual cultures, with a growing interest in German visual cultures in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. I gained my research council funded PhD from the University of Birmingham in December 2007 and was appointed lecturer at Birmingham in 2008. My research into Anglo-Swiss relations has been awarded fellowships at the Yale Center for British Art and my recent research into Weimar culture has been funded by the DAAD Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst.


I teach across the Art History and Visual Culture curriculum at Birmingham, both at postgraduate and undergraduate levels. I convene the first year courses The Enlightenment and its Discontents, and the introductory modules to art history: Historical Concepts in Art History and Methods and Debates in Art History. I also teach the second year module Art, Architecture and Design in Fin-de-Siècle Vienna and co-convene the third year and MA module The Body and its Representation with my colleague Francesca Berry. I convene the Postgraduate Research Training and Methods module.

I also contribute to the cross-School BA Modern Languages Programme on the module Approaches to European Culture.

In 2013-14 I will be teaching a third year special subject German Modernisms of the Body.

As part of my teaching I have taken undergraduate and postgraduate students and the Friends of the Barber Institute to Berlin, Paris and Vienna.

Postgraduate supervision

Supervision of MA, MRes and doctoral theses on Fin-de-Siècle Berlin and Vienna, The Weimar Republic, Swiss and, to a lesser degree, aspects of eighteenth-century British visual culture.

Current postgraduate research includes:

  • Arnold Schoenberg’s Self-Portraiture: Identity revealed in Art and Music (PhD)
  • Gender and Myth in Estella Canziani’s Travel Guides (MPhil, AHRC-funded, co-supervision with Dr. Francesca Berry) 
  • Henry Fuseli’s Conceptions of ‘Self’ and the Status of Art (PhD, co-supervision with Dr. Richard Clay) 
  • The photographic self-portraits of Marianne Breslauer, Eva Besnyö and Lotti Jacobi (MRes, AHRC-funded)


My research has focused on the Swiss artist Henry Fuseli with particular reference to his early drawings produced during his ministerial training in Zurich. I am currently working on a monograph Fools, Heroes and Whores: Henry Fuseli’s Switzerland, which argues Fuseli’s upbringing in Zurich significantly shaped his later attitudes towards eroticism, religion and satire found in his images and writing. I am interested in Anglo-Swiss cultural relations during the eighteenth century and have published on travelers’ perceptions and myth-making of Switzerland during the ‘Enlightenment’.

More recent research has examined attitudes towards homosexuality through tourist discourses and in particular, illustrated travel guides produced during the Weimar Republic. Current research examines the intersecting discourses of sexology and visual culture in Weimar Germany. I am exploring Magnus Hirschfeld’s Institute for Sexual Science: space, visitors and Hirschfeld’s exhibiting and collecting practices. I am interested in the ways in which sexology intersects with the contemporaneous art market for erotica and pornography and how this relates to the ways in which sexologists such as Hirschfeld used visual culture in their own pedagogic frameworks.

My research into aspects of both the eighteenth and early twentieth centuries converges around a more general interest in morality and social subversion, especially in relation to fluctuating censorship and the sexually illicit.

Other activities

  • Postgraduate Director in the department of Art History, Film and Visual Studies
  • Head of Postgraduate Taught Programs for the School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music in the College of Arts and Law 
  • Head of Postgraduate Welfare for School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music in the College of Arts and Law


Book chapters

Camilla Smith, ‘William Coxe’s Travels in Switzerland 1789: A Travel Book Examining Alpine Exploration, Local History and Swiss Folklore’ in Richard Clay and Andrew Chandler eds, Travel By the Book: An Exhibition of Eighteenth-Century Illustrated Travel Books at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts. Cromwell Press,Trowbridge, 2006, 39–68 (ISBN 0-9550558-1-4) 9,804 words.

Peer-reviewed articles

Camilla Smith, ‘Between Fantasy and Angst: Assessing the Subject and Meaning of Henry Fuseli’s Late Pornographic Drawings 1800-1825’, Art History, Vol. 33, no. 3 (2010), Wiley-Blackwell, 420-448 (ISSN 0141-6790) 17,236 words.

Camilla Smith, ‘Assessing the Pedagogic Role of Folly in the Early Work of Henry Fuseli’, Paedagogica Historica,Vol. 46, No. 5, October (2010) Routledge, 559-583 (ISSN 0030-9230) 9,695 words.

Academic journal review articles

Camilla Smith, ‘Women’s Contribution to Modernism: Discover, Recover, or Revise?’ Oxford Art Journal, vol. 32, no. 3, (2009), OUO. 453-458. 4,901 words.


(Book chapter) Camilla Smith, ‘Questioning bohemian myth in Weimar Berlin: Reinterpreting Jeanne Mammen and the artist function through her illustrations Der Maler und sein Modell [‘The Painter and his Model’] (1927). David Machin (ed.), Visual Communication in the series Handbooks of Communication Science (HOCS) eds,Peter J. Schulz and Paul Cobley, (2013), De Gruyter Mouton. 10,152 words.

(Article) Camilla Smith, ‘From cantonal to national significance: The construction of nature and Alpine myth in eighteenth-century Zurich’. Accepted, forthcoming in the Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies, (2013) Wiley-Blackwell. 9,996 words.

(Article) Camilla Smith, ‘Challenging Baedeker through the Art of Sexual Science: An Exploration of Homosexuality in Curt Moreck’s Guide to “Depraved” Berlin (1931)’. Accepted, forthcoming in Oxford Art Journal, Vol. 36, No. 3, October (2013), OUP. 11,404 words.