Francesca Berry


Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

I welcome enquiries from prospective postgraduate students wishing to research any subject that overlaps with my research and teaching interests.

Current Postgraduate Research Supervision

Matthew French, 'The Limits of Legibility: Modernism and the Critical Edge of Caricature and the Caricatural 1881-1900'.

Benoit Guérillot, 'Proust, Bonnard and Deleuze's Theory of Signs' (second supervisor).

Erica Tso, ‘Moga as the Epitome of Interwar Japanese Femininity: A Comparative Study of Print Culture in Japan and Britain’.

Previous Postgraduate Research Supervision

Rebecca Savage, ‘Redesigning Modernism: Opportunities for Female Autonomy with the World of Poster Design (1918-39)’ (AHRC Midlands 4 Cities Doctoral Award) with Dr Richard Hornsey (University of Nottingham).

Cai Lyons, ‘Networks of Modernism: a feminist and geopolitical analysis of Mary Swanzy (1882 – 1978)’ (University of Birmingham College of Arts and Law Doctoral Scholarship; Haywood Doctoral Scholarship).

Hannah Halliwell ‘Morphine Addicts in Fin-de-Siècle French Visual Culture: Art, Medicine, Sexuality and Femininity’ (AHRC Midlands 4 Cities Doctoral Award) with Dr Ting Chang (University of Nottingham) and Dr Camilla Smith (University of Birmingham). PhD awarded 2020.

Sara Tarter 'Commercialising Culture: The Display of Art in French, British and American Department Stores (1875-1914) (University of Birmingham College of Arts and Law Doctoral Scholarship). PhD awarded 2019.

Alison Hall ‘The Shelter Photographs 1968-72, Nick Hedges: The Representation of the Homeless Child and a Photographic Archive’ (AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award) with Prof Ian Grosvenor and Dr Sian Roberts. PhD awarded 2016.

Richenda Roberts ‘”Patriotism is not enough”: Visual responses to Pacifism and Feminism in Britain during World War One’ (AHRC Doctoral Award) with Dr Jutta Vinzent. PhD awarded 2013.

MA by Research
Mattias Vendelmans 'Pelle Swedlund, A Swedish Symbolist Painter in Bruges'.

Jon Stevens ‘Shadows and Silence Under Glass: Fernand Khnopff, Henri Le Sidaner and Frank Brangwyn’s fin-de-siècle Visions of Bruges’.

Hannah Carroll ‘Travels Through Text and Image: Estella Canziani’s ‘Costumes, Traditions and Songs of Savoy’ (AHRC Research Preparation Masters Award) with Dr Camilla Smith. MPhil awarded 2013.

Kathryn Murray ‘Self-Ordering Creativity and an Independent Work Space. Edna Clark-Hall’s Poem Pictures’ (AHRC Research Preparation Masters Award). MPhil awarded 2012.

Elin Morgan ‘The Studio Practice of Jacob Epstein as revealed by an examination of selected contemporaneous photographs and a selection of his sculptural fragments’ (AHRC Research Preparation Masters Award). MPhil awarded 2012.


Research activity per year

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Personal profile


I joined the University of Birmingham in 2005 as Lecturer in History of Art having previously held a temporary lectureship 2003-5 in History of Art at the University of Warwick. I studied for my BA, MA and PhD in the Department of History of Art at University College London (my PhD under the supervision of Prof Tamar Garb) and then proceeded to an AHRC post-doctoral research fellowship at the Royal College of Art, Royal Holloway, and Victoria & Albert Museum. Between 2013 and 2016 I was Head of the Department of Art History, Curating and Visual Studies at University of Birmingham and took this role up again in 2017-18. From 2010 to 2022 I was an Editor of the Oxford Art Journal, published by Oxford University Press, and was Chair of its editorial group from 2017 to 2022. Currently, I am Head of Research for the School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music. In 2017 I was promoted to Associate Professor in History of Art at the University of Birmingham. 

Research interests

The main focus of my research is the artistic and visual culture of domesticity in France 1880-1940 as framed by questions deriving from feminist methodologies. On the one hand my research lies in painterly, avant-garde, domesticities and, on the other, in mass-consumed, mediated domesticities. Either way, I consider how and to what historical effect these domesticities are productive of identities and subjectivities that are sexually differentiated.

Currently I am completing a book examining the personal and social politics of domesticity in the work and working arrangements of French Nabi artist Edouard Vuillard, Edouard Vuillard and the Nabis: Art and the Politics of Domesticity (Bloomsbury Academic, 2024). This will constitute the first book-length feminist engagement with Vuillard and Intimisme more generally. I was guest curator to the international loan exhibition ‘Maman: Vuillard and Madame Vuillard’ at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, October 2018 to January 2019. I authored the exhibition’s fully-illustrated catalogue, Maman: Vuillard and Madame Vuillard, published 2018 by Paul Holberton Publishing.

I am also currently researching mass media publications associated with the hugely popular interwar Salon des Arts Ménagers (1923-1983), including the journal L'Art Ménager and the annual exhibition poster. My article ‘Housewife Writ Large: Marie mécanique, Paulette Bernège and New Feminist Domesticity in Interwar France’ that critically analyses the representation of housewife-automata in SAM publicity materials was published May 2017 in the Oxford Art Journal. A further article on the topic of interwar French mass-media domesticity, ‘Housework, The Eighth Art’, is planned.

I am in the process of building a research project on the theme of ‘Nabi Politics: Art at the Vanguard of Debate after 1888’. This project will investigate the political and social attitudes of the influential Nabi artists, who rose to artistic prominence in Paris at the end of the nineteenth century. By studying their work, objectives and affiliations in unprecedented detail, the project will develop an innovative critical perspective that casts much-needed new light on the Nabis' approach to art and design, promotes public engagement with their work and offers fresh insights into the turbulent relationship between culture and politics in 1890s France; the decade of feminist congresses, labour agitation, anarchist bombings, presidential assassination and the Dreyfus Affair.

I have been researcher on three RCUK funded collaborative research projects: as co-investigator to AHRC Suburban Birmingham: Spaces and Places, 1880-1960 (University of Birmingham, Birmingham Museums Trust, Library of Birmingham, 2009-2012) and as postdoctoral research fellow at AHRC Centre for the Study of the Domestic Interior (Royal College of Art, Victoria & Albert Museum, Royal Holloway, University of London, 2001-2003). I was Principal Investigator and lead supervisor to the successfully completed AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award ‘Displaying Childhood Spaces’.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality


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