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

Photograph of Dr Camilla Smith

Department of Art History, Curating and Visual Studies
Senior Lecturer
Head of Department of Art History, Curating and Visual Studies

Contact details

The Barber Institute of Fine Art
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

I specialise in early twentieth-century German and Austrian culture and intellectual history. I gained my research council funded PhD from the University of Birmingham in December 2007 and was appointed lecturer at Birmingham in 2008, and Senior Lecturer in 2021. Before this, I spent several years in Germany teaching English. I was also a teaching assistant in the Art History Department at the University of Warwick. My research into Anglo-Swiss relations during the eighteenth century was supported by a research fellowship at the Yale Center for British Art in the US. More recent research into visual culture from the Weimar Republic was funded by the Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst (DAAD). I received a one-year COFUND Fellowship for Experienced Researchers from the Marie Sklodowska-Curie to enable the completion of a monograph on the German artist Jeanne Mammen (1890–1976).


I teach across the undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in the department. I convene first year modules Writing Art Histories and the introductory modules to the discipline: Historical Concepts in Art History and Methods and Debates in Art History. I also convene a 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 and teach on the core Criticism and Methods in the History of Art and Visual Culture module at masters’ level.

I teach two third year and MA Special Subjects:

  • Fashioning Flesh and Technology: Modernism and the Body in Germany 1918-1933
  • Berlin 1890-1933: Symphony of a (Great?) City

I contribute to the cross-school BA Modern Languages Programme on the module Approaches to European Culture. I also contribute to the cross-college Gender and Sexuality Studies programme.

As part of my teaching I have taken undergraduate and postgraduate students to Berlin, Paris and Vienna. I have also conducted study tours to Vienna and Paris for the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, Birmingham.

I am passionate about teaching and have received two teaching awards for excellence in 2011 and 2019.

Postgraduate supervision

I welcome proposals for research in areas of eighteenth-century Swiss culture and intellectual history and early twentieth-century German and Austrian culture and intellectual history. Research into cultural aspects of the Weimar Republic; National Socialism and forms of artist dissent; women artists; print and illustration; erotica and the censorship of visual material are particularly encouraged.

I am engaged in co-supervision across departments and universities with colleagues working in French and German Studies, History and Sexuality and Gender studies. I welcome research proposals that I can support as part of a supervisory team.

Postgraduate supervision includes:

Women artists and erotica in interwar Germany and France (PhD, AHRC-funded)
The photographic self-portraits of Marianne Breslauer, Eva Besnyö and Lotti Jacobi (MRes, AHRC-funded)
Diagnosing the morphinomane body in fin-de-siècle art (PhD, AHRC-funded)
Modern art and the European department store (PhD)
Arnold Schoenberg’s Gesamtkunstwerk (MA by Research)
Gender and Myth in Estella Canziani’s Travel Guides (MPhil, AHRC-funded)
Henry Fuseli’s Conceptions of ‘Self’ and the Status of Art (PhD)
The eighteenth-century engraved fan leaves of George Wilson (PhD)
Onania and female sexuality in text and image in eighteenth-century England (MRes)

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


My research on visual culture in Germany converges around broader issues relating to gender and sexuality and questions of morality and legality. I am interested in art, erotica and visual culture that sits at the margins of ‘respectability’ and often the law. My research explores who was producing, consuming and collecting such material and the ways in which the complex and shifting censorship laws in Germany during the early twentieth century shaped critical responses to it. Published research explores how visual culture and sexology intersect, how erotic material is used to mobilise tourism and how representation is used as forms of self-identification and social constructivism.

Recent research has examined how visual culture, sexual politics and forms of dissent play out under authoritarian regimes – specifically under National Socialism.  A monograph on the Weimar artist Jeanne Mammen (1890-1976) exploring these aspects is forthcoming. While Mammen’s Neue Sachlichkeit watercolours are well known, this study focuses on what happened ‘after Weimar’ in the artist’s career up until 1950. A main concern is the artist’s experience under National Socialism. It explores the complex process of creating modern ‘degenerate’ art under the restrictive conditions of inner emigration in Germany. Adopting an ‘everyday history’ (Alltagsgeschichte) approach to dissent, which moves away from narrow understandings of  ‘resistance’ as political acts intended to challenge/overthrow a regime, it argues that inner emigration produced strategic and positional identities of dissent within the private sphere. I was awarded a one-year fellowship in Germany to enable to completion of this monograph.

My current book length project explores the production and consumption of erotic visual culture in inter-war Germany. It examines the role that erotic material played in relation to debates on mass culture by post-enlightenment thinkers, if and how erotica relates to the ‘avant-garde’ and what, if any, are the continuities between the production and consumption of erotica during the Weimar Republic and under the National Socialists.

Previous research has focused on drawings by the Anglo-Swiss artist, Henry Fuseli. An article examining his erotic drawing and their relationship to sexual pathology and fashion appeared in Art History. A further study of Fuseli’s early drawings produced in Zurich also features in Paedagogica Historica. Other research has examined Anglo-Swiss cultural relations during the eighteenth century more broadly, discussing travel, myth making and perceptions of ‘foreignness’ during the enlightenment.

I have contributed essays in exhibition catalogues for the Berlinische Galerie, Berlin; Lentos Kunstmuseum, Linz; Barbican Art Gallery, London and the Belvedere, Vienna.

Peer reviewed articles have appeared in Art History, Oxford Art Journal and New German Critique. I co-edited a special issue of Art History with Dorothy Price. Weimar’s Others: Art History, Alterity and Regionalism in Inter-War Germany was published in 2019 to celebrate the centenary of the Weimar Republic. A launch and roundtable discussion takes place at The Courtauld Institute of Art in October 2019.

For further publications and details please see publications/research portal on my staff page.

I regularly give conference and research papers including at the Universities of Bristol, Essex, Reading, Nottingham, Yale, Berlin and Erfurt.  I have convened or been part of panels at the CAA, AAH and the AHA. I have given lectures at the IKON Gallery, Tate Britain, the Barber Institute and the Kulturforum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin.

Other activities

Since becoming a member of the Art History Department, I have undertaken administrative roles at departmental, school and college levels:

  • Deputy Chair, College of Art and Law Graduate School Mitigations and Extensions Panel
  • Head of Postgraduate Taught Programmes, School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music
  • Head of Postgraduate Welfare, School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music
  • Departmental Director of Postgraduate Studies 
  • Third Year Tutor
  • Undergraduate Admissions Officer

I am currently the external examiner for Postgraduate Programmes for the School of Philosophy and Art History at the University of Essex.

I have undertaken peer review work for Manchester University Press, Art History, Modernist Cultures, DAAD, AHRC.

I am a trustee on the board of the William Dudley Trust charity based in Birmingham. We offer financial support to other charitable organisations in the West Midlands including Age Concern and the Prince’s Trust. We also support students from Birmingham School of Jewellery at Birmingham City University with small grants towards their studies. 


Recent publications


Smith, C 2022, Jeanne Mammen. Art between Resistance and Conformity in Modern Germany, 1916-1950. Visual Cultures and German Contexts , vol. 9, vol. 9, 1st edn, Bloomsbury Academic, UK. <https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/jeanne-mammen-9781350239388/>


Smith, C 2019, 'Sex sells! Wolfgang Gurlitt, erotic print culture and women artists in the Weimar Republic', Art History, vol. 42, no. 4, pp. 780-806. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8365.12460

Smith, C 2018, 'Was nicht im “Baedeker” steht: exploring art, mass culture and anti-tourism in Weimar Germany', New German Critique, vol. 45, no. 1, 133, pp. 207-245. https://doi.org/10.1215/0094033X-4269910

Chapter (peer-reviewed)

Smith, C 2024, From Kahn to Kollwitz: Exploring the Significance of Art and Visual Culture in Babylon Berlin. in H Baer & JS Smith (eds), Babylon Berlin, German Visual Spectacle, and Global Media Culture. 1st edn, Visual Cultures and German Contexts , Bloomsbury Publishing, pp. 105-124. https://doi.org/10.5040/9781350370098.ch-6

Smith, C 2023, In Pursuit of Beauty: Manasse and Erotic Photography in the Weimar and Nazi Eras. in D Ascher Barnstone & D West Brett (eds), Aesthetic in Transition: Visual Culture in the Weimar Republic. Visual Cultures and German Contexts , Bloomsbury Academic.

Smith, C 2023, Juro Kubicêk’s Mein K(r)ampf: Derision, Dissent, and Denazification in Post-War Berlin. in V Westbrook & S Chao (eds), Humour in Times of Confrontations, 1901 to the Present . Humour in Literature and Culture series, Routledge.


Smith, C 2023, Berlin. in MA Stevens (ed.), After Impressionism: Inventing Modern Art . National Gallery Global, pp. 162-183, After Impressionism: Inventing Modern Art, London, United Kingdom, 25/03/23. <https://shop.nationalgallery.org.uk/after-impressionism-inventing-modern-art-catalogue-1051516.html>

Smith, C 2019, 'Jeder einmal in Berlin!’ Modern Art, Mass Culture and Nightlife in Weimar Germany. in F Ostende & L Johnson (eds), Exhibition: Into the Night. Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art . Prestel, Munich, London and New York, pp. 214-221, Into the Night. Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art , London , United Kingdom, 4/10/19.

Smith, C 2019, Wolfgang Gurlitt gibt bei Jeanne Mammen eine Serie erotischer Lithografien in Auftrag. in E Nowak-Thaller & H Schmutz (eds), Wolfgang Gurlitt. Zauberprinz. Kunsthändler – Sammler . Hirmer Verlag, Munich u. Berlin, pp. 209-219, Wolfgang Gurlitt. Zauberprinz. Kunsthändler – Sammler, Linz, Austria, 4/10/19.

Smith, C 2017, 'Vom Wedding nach Montmartre'. Eine Erkundung der theatralen Semantik im Werk von Jeanne Mammen. in J Mammen-Stiftung e.V. (ed.), Jeanne Mammen. Paris - Bruxelles - Berlin . Deutscher Kunstverlag GmbH, Munich u. Berlin, pp. 120-143.

Smith, C 2017, Jeanne Mammen - Negotiating the Hitler State from Within 1933-1945. in A Lütgens & T Köhler (eds), Jeanne Mammen. The Observer. Retrospective 1910-1975. Hirmer Verlag, Munich and Berlin, pp. 153-160, Jeanne Mammen. The Observer. Retrospective 1910-1975, Berlin, Germany, 6/10/17.

Smith, C 2017, Jeanne Mammens künstlerisches Handeln im 'Hitler-Staat'. in A Lütgens & T Köhler (eds), Jeanne Mammen. Die Beobachterin: Retrospektive 1910–1975. Hirmer Verlag, Munich u. Berlin , pp. 153-160, Jeanne Mammen. Die Beobachterin Retrospektive 1910-1975, Berlin , Germany, 6/10/17.

Review article

Smith, C 2019, 'Forum: visual studies—the art historians’ view: on (homo)sexuality in Weimar visual culture', The German Quarterly, vol. 92, no. 2, 5, pp. 259-263. https://doi.org/10.1111/gequ.12105

Smith, C 2018, '‘Body Modern: Fritz Kahn, Scientific Illustration, and the Homuncular Subject by Michael Sappol’ (review)', German Studies Review, vol. 41, no. 2, pp. 407-409. https://doi.org/10.1353/gsr.2018.0074

Special issue

Price, D & Smith, C 2019, 'Weimar's Others: Art History, Alterity and Regionalism in Inter-War Germany', Art History, vol. 42, no. 4, pp. 628-651. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8365.12454

View all publications in research portal