Dr Sophie Hatchwell

Dr Sophie Hatchwell

Department of Art History, Curating and Visual Studies
Associate Professor in History of Art

Contact details

Barber Institute of Fine Arts
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

I am an historian of visual culture, and my research focuses on text-image relationship and the dissemination of art in Britain in the 20th century. My research has been supported by the Barnes-Graham Trust and Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art.


PhD, University of Bristol
MA, Courtauld Institute of Art
BA (hons), University of East London


I joined Birmingham as a Teaching Fellow in 2017 and took up a lectureship in 2018. Prior to this, I taught History of Art at Bristol School of Art, and the University of Bristol, where I obtained my PhD in 2015. I have been a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy since summer 2017. 


My teaching focuses on art history in the modern period, as well as theories and methodologies.
Current and past taught modules include:

Beauty, Goodness, Truth
Paris Moderne 1850-1930
American Art in the 1960s
Reading Art History
Concepts of Modernism
Debates and Methods
Object and Medium

Postgraduate supervision

I would welcome enquiries from prospective postgraduate students hoping to undertake research relating to my interests in the interrelationship of word and image, art theory and criticism in the 19th and 20th centuries, art and literature, 20th Century British art, art and intertextuality, and display, spectatorship and phenomenology.

Find out more - our PhD History of Art  page has information about doctoral research at the University of Birmingham.


My research centres on visual culture in Britain and Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries, with a particular focus on the relationships between art writing, display and aesthetic experience.  Beyond a strictly geographic and historical context, my work considers how text intervenes in an audience’s experience of art objects, and I’m interested in tracing the diverse range of texts implicated in this dynamic.

My work to date has centred on the relationship between art writing and display practices at the fin de siècle, culminating in a monograph, Performance and Spectatorship in Edwardian Art Writing (Palgrave, forthcoming 2019), which uses a phenomenological-semiotic methodology to explore the embodied or performative nature of reading about art.

Ongoing research will consider the means by which texts frame or condition display and reception of 20th century modernism in local or peripheral contexts.  This work engages in debate about the formation of cultural identities, and considers the role played by word-image relationships in mediating between the local and transnational.

This research on word and image also feeds into my pedagogic interest in the impact of digital technology on the reading and understanding of art history in higher education.

Other activities

I am also part of the Midland Art Papers team.


Recent publications


Hatchwell, S 2019, Performance and Spectatorship in Edwardian Art Writing. Bernard Shaw and His Contemporaries, 1 edn, Palgrave. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-17024-0


Hatchwell, S 2024, 'Civic art galleries and interwar exhibition cultures in Britain', Museum History Journal, vol. 17, no. 1, pp. 60-75. https://doi.org/10.1080/19369816.2023.2298504

Hatchwell, S 2022, 'Transcribing form: the ekphrastic image in interwar British art journals', Journal of Modern Periodical Studies, vol. 13, no. 1, pp. 77–102. https://doi.org/10.5325/jmodeperistud.13.1.0077

Hatchwell, S 2019, 'Letters from the home front: the alternative war art of Robert Colquhoun and Robert MacBryde, 1940–1945', British Art Studies, no. 12. https://doi.org/10.17658/issn.2058-5462/issue-12/shatchwell/abstract

Hatchwell, S 2017, 'The “Language of Painting”: aesthetic appreciation in Edwardian art criticism', Visual Resources, vol. 33, no. 3-4, pp. 234-251. https://doi.org/10.1080/01973762.2017.1276725

Chapter (peer-reviewed)

Hatchwell, S 2019, ‘‘Acquiring a Foreign Accent’: painting as transnational language in Edwardian art writing’. in Imagined Cosmopolis: Internationalism and Cultural Exchange, 1870s–1920s. Peter Lang, pp. 449-467.

Hatchwell, S 2017, Recovering Robert Ross: Criticism, Commerce and Networking in the Edwardian Art World. in S Shaw, S Shaw & N Carle (eds), Edwardian Culture: Beyond the Garden Party. Among the Victorians and Modernists, Routledge, New York, pp. 172-190.


Hatchwell, S 2016, 'Still Invisible- Response', British Art Studies, vol. 1, no. 2. https://doi.org/10.17658/issn.2058-5462/issue-02/still-invisible/003

View all publications in research portal