British photographic history

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Funded PhD opportunity: Poverty, Welfare, and Visual Culture in the Long 19th Century / by 30 April 2019

Applications are welcome for a generous four year, fully-funded PhD fellowship, based in the School of Art History and Cultural Policy at University College Dublin, on the theme of Poverty, Welfare, and Visual Culture in the Long 19th Century. The award includes a stipend of €15,000 per annum, full fee waiver (EU or non-EU), a travel allowance, archival research and publication allowance, and funding for a laptop.

Candidates are encouraged to submit a proposal on a subject of their choosing, within the broad area of poverty, visual culture, mass media, and the emergence of the modern welfare state from the 19th-early 20th century. It is anticipated the PhD project will be situated within some of the following themes:

  • The rapid and coterminous development of the illustrated press, photography, stereoscopy, magic lanterns, optical devices, and early cinema as new forms of visualisation and encounter
  • Discourses concerning representations of the ‘real’, the conditions of modern life, and physical/optical perception; debates on the nature of photography and new media and their relationship to verisimilitude and truth; etc.
  • Moral, political, and economic philosophies which informed the transition from 19th c. poor laws and methods of public relief to the establishment of 20th c. modern welfare states and the non-governmental sector

Research proposals may also choose to address one or more of the following (or similar):

  • homelessness (urban and rural)
  • hunger (both severe and episodic)
  • migration and diaspora
  • benevolence (eg the rise of of modern non-governmental philanthropic organisations and activism)
  • welfare institutions (eg the development of state-controlled instruments of relief)
  • representations of empire

Irish, European, or comparative projects are especially encouraged, but any colonial or global topic is welcome. Demonstrable experience working with visual media is required.

The successful candidate will have a strong academic background in art history, visual culture, and/or history, and will work under the supervision of Associate Professor Emily Mark-FitzGerald. Dr Mark-FitzGerald is the primary expert on the visual culture of the Irish Famine from the 19th century-present; a former Director of the Irish Museums Association (2009-18); and current co-PI of the funded research series Media, Encounter, Witness: Troubling Pasts at the Humanities Institute at University College Dublin. UCD’s School of Art History and Cultural Policy is the largest art history department in Ireland, and the successful candidate will join a thriving research community closely connected with a range of national and international museums and cultural institutions.

In order to apply, please submit a cover letter, CV, writing sample, two letters of reference, and a proposal (1000-1500 words plus indicative bibliography) via email to Dr Emily Mark-FitzGerald ( by 30th April 2019. Applications will be reviewed by a committee at School level, and applicants will be informed by the end of May, at which time the successful applicant may formally apply for admission to UCD. Preliminary enquiries by email are welcome.

This PhD is funded under UCD's new ADVANCE PhD scheme; more info here:


Vandeleur evictions: Mathias Magrath's house, Moyasta, Co.Clare after destruction by the Battering Ram (1880s). William Lawrence studio, photographic negative on glass. National Library of Ireland

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