Dr Kate Nichols

Photograph of Dr Kate Nichols

Department of Art History, Curating and Visual Studies
Birmingham Fellow

Contact details

Address
The Barber Institute of Fine Arts
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston
Birmingham
B15 2TT
UK

I am an art historian of Britain and the British Empire between c.1815-1920.

Qualifications

  • BA Classical Studies (Bristol)
  • MSt Greek/Roman History (Oxford)
  • PhD Classical Reception Studies (Birkbeck College, London)

Biography

I came to Birmingham from Centre for Research in Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH, Cambridge), where I was a postdoctoral research fellow on the European Research Council Funded project 'The Bible and Antiquity in Nineteenth-­Century Culture'. I studied for my PhD in the School of History, Classics and Archaeology at Birkbeck College London (2009). Since then, I have been a Henry Moore Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Bristol's Institute for Greece, Rome and the Classical Tradition; Teaching Fellow in the History of Art at the University of York; Postdoctoral Fellow at the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, and Teaching Fellow in Classics and Ancient History at the University of Bristol.

Teaching

LI/Year 2

  • Victorian Art and the British Empire
  • Art and the Industrial Revolution

LH/Year 3/MA

  • Pre-Raphaelites: Contexts, Approaches, Reputations

I also contribute a session on Queering Art, Queering the Museum to the Widening Horizons Module ‘Gender and Sexual Diversity: international and interdisciplinary approaches to LGBTQ+ identities’, convened by the School of Social Policy.

Postgraduate supervision

I would welcome enquiries from prospective postgraduate students hoping to undertake research relating to my research and teaching interests in British art (especially in the Victorian period); classical reception studies; the history and theory of museums; art and animals; art and imperialism; art and industry.

Current Research Students

  • Clare Matthews, Classical Culture in Nineteenth-Century Industrial Cities, AHRC M3C funded, 2017- (co-supervised with Dr Mark Bradley, Classics, Nottingham University)
  • Katherine Reeve, Making a Modern Miranda: How Shakespeare’s Miranda became a figure of Victorian modernity, with reference to John Bell’s Parian statuette, Miranda (1850), MRes, 2016- (co-supervised with Dr Rebecca N. Mitchell, English, University of Birmingham)
  • Rebecca Savage, The Great Western Rail Posters of 1930-39, College of Arts and Law funded, 2017- (co-supervised with Dr Claire Jones)

Research

Three main concerns animate my research. First, viewer interactions with ancient and modern sculpture and painting in the new Victorian contexts of art museums, International Exhibitions, and emergent consumer and sporting cultures in Britain and Australia. Second, the depiction of race, class, gender and sexuality in British biblical and classical subject painting c.1865-1912. Finally, the relationship between art, labour and new technologies in the long nineteenth century.

As Birmingham Fellow, I’ll be starting a new research project provisionally entitled 'Birmingham to Ballarat: Visualising Antiquity in Global Victorian Cultures'. This traces the global and imperial contexts of the making, collection, and public reception of Victorian painting. It focuses on a selection of paintings depicting biblical and classical antiquity, made between the mid-1860s and 1900, and housed since the 1870s in public institutions in Britain and Australia.

My first book, Greece and Rome at the Crystal Palace: Classical Sculpture and Modern Britain, 1854-1936, was published by Oxford University Press in 2015. It examines the social, political, and aesthetic role of ancient Greek and Roman sculpture in modern Britain, the first in-depth assessment of how classical art figured in debates over design reform, taste, beauty and morality, class and gender, and race and imperialism.

Other activities

In 2017/18 I am admissions tutor and study abroad tutor for the Department. I am also Impact lead and Impact Case Study Lead.

I am editor of Midlands Art Papers, a collaborative online journal, working between the University of Birmingham and 11 partner institutions to research and explore the world class works of art and design in public collections across the Midlands.

I am co-organiser of an international interdisciplinary conference, Art on the Move: Mobility in the Long Nineteenth Century taking place at Ikon Gallery and the Barber Institute.

I am a member of 19cc – the Nineteenth-Century Centre an interdisciplinary network at the University of Birmingham. I am also on the Executive Committee for BAVS, the British Association for Victorian Studies.

In 2016 I initiated the Rainbow Trail, and supported a group of student volunteers from across the University to select objects exploring the lives and communities of LGBTQIA+ people from the University of Birmingham’s Research and Cultural Collections.

I am also a mentor for the careers service's LGBT student mentoring scheme.

Publications

Book (single authored)

  • Greece and Rome at the Crystal Palace. Classical Sculpture and Modern Britain, 1854-1936 (Oxford University Press, 2015) 

Articles in peer reviewed journals

Edited Collections

  •  Kate Nichols, Rebecca Wade, and Gabriel Williams (eds), Art vs. Industry? New perspectives on Visual and Industrial Cultures in Nineteenth-Century Britain (Manchester University Press, 2016)
  • Kate Nichols and Sarah Victoria Turner (eds), After 1851: The Material and Visual Cultures of the Crystal Palace at Sydenham (Manchester University Press, 2017)

Essays in edited collections

  • Kate Nichols and Sarah Victoria Turner, ‘ “What is to become of the Crystal Palace?” The Crystal Palace after 1851’, in Kate Nichols and Sarah Victoria Turner (eds), After 1851: The Material and Visual Cultures of the Crystal Palace at Sydenham (Manchester University Press, 2017), pp.1-23
  • Kate Nichols, ‘ “[M]anly beauty and muscular strength”: sculpture, sport and the nation at the Crystal Palace, 1854-1918’, in Kate Nichols and Sarah Victoria Turner (eds), After 1851: The Material and Visual Cultures of the Crystal Palace at Sydenham (Manchester University Press, 2017), pp.97-121
  • Kate Nichols and Rebecca Wade, ‘Art versus Industry? An introduction’ in Kate Nichols, Rebecca Wade, and Gabriel Williams (eds), Art vs. Industry? New perspectives on Visual and Industrial Cultures in Nineteenth-Century Britain (Manchester University Press, 2016), pp.1-18
  • ‘Marbles for the Masses – the Elgin Marbles at the Crystal Palace’, in V. Coltman (ed.), Making Sense of Greek Art. Ancient Visual Culture and its Receptions (Exeter University Press, 2012), pp.179-201
  • ‘Art and commodity: sculpture under glass at the Crystal Palace’, in J. Welchman (ed.), Sculpture and the Vitrine (Ashgate, 2013), pp.23-46

Reviews

  •  ‘Facing Britain’s Imperial Past? Artist and Empire at Tate Britain’, Victorian Literature and Culture, 45/1 (2017), pp. 214-221
  • ‘Review of Amy Woodson-Boulton, Transformative Beauty: Art Museums in Industrial Britain’, Visual Culture in Britain, 15/3 (2014), 369-371
  • ‘Review of Elizabeth Prettejohn, The Modernity of Ancient Sculpture: Greek Sculpture and Modern Art from Winckelmann to Picasso’, Journal of Hellenic Studies, 134 (2014), 260-1