AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award: Fully-funded PhD Studentship 2017, Birkbeck University of London, UK

Publish Date: May 03, 2017

Deadline: May 23, 2017

AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award: fully-funded PhD studentship 

Making an impression: British women printmakers in the Long Eighteenth Century

Birkbeck College, University of London (School of Arts)
Victoria & Albert Museum, London

Applications are invited for an AHRC-funded PhD studentship researching the role, status and output of amateur and professional women printmakers in Britain during the long eighteenth century, drawing on the Victoria & Albert Museum’s strong collections of work by women printmakers of this period. The project will reconstruct and investigate the work of a number of women artists who have long been overlooked, thereby making a significant contribution to the history of art, design and the print. This studentship is one of a number awarded to the V&A, as part of the AHRC’s Collaborative Doctoral Partnership Scheme.

The supervisors of the project have identified the following issues for research, although the student has the scope to develop both the topic and approach, in conjunction with the supervisors.

  • What was the status of women printmakers in eighteenth-century society and how was their work received? How did their experience differ from/resemble that of their male peers?
  • What are the formal qualities, style and subjects of prints by women printmakers and what was their relationship to mainstream printmaking during this period? Which genres and techniques did women printmakers work in and to what degree was their gender a factor in determining these?
  • Which women printmakers can be considered the most successful, prolific or canonical? Which works were the most celebrated or popular in their time?
  • What were the backgrounds and socio-economic circumstances of these women? In which professions did their relatives work? To which social and economic strata of society did they belong? Where did they live and work?
  • What were the systems of technical and artistic training for women printmakers – workshops, apprenticeships, family vs private paid instruction? What were the diverging and conflating experiences of the amateur vs professional and dynastic vs independent woman printmaker?
  • How were prints by women artists marketed, exhibited and sold? How visible was their gender? Who purchased and collected these prints?

This project will be supervised by Dr Kate Retford, Senior Lecturer in History of Art (Birkbeck College, University of London), who specialises in eighteenth-century British art, particularly gender and portraiture, and Dr Sarah Grant,Curator of Prints at the V&A, whose research interests encompass eighteenth-century prints, women artists and female patronage.

This studentship will provide the student with invaluable academic skills and experience of working in a major national museum of art and design, as well as a deep understanding of women artists, prints and printmaking. It will involve the student in a range of interdisciplinary research activities, drawing on archival and primary textual material and working closely with art collections. In addition to preparing the PhD thesis, it is envisaged that the student will also be engaged in a range of related activities, such as helping to organise a conference, a series of research workshops and a display for the Prints & Drawings Galleries at the V&A. They will also be expected to play a full role in the research cultures of both institutions.


The studentship funding is subject to final confirmation by the AHRC but will be fully funded for three years full-time (or five years part-time) and will begin in October 2017. It will cover tuition fees at home/EU rate and provide a maintenance award at RCUK rates (currently £14,553 per annum plus £2,000 London weighting). In addition the AHRC provides an extra £550 per annum for Collaborative Doctoral Award students and the V&A provides £1,000 total towards research expenses.

How to Apply

Applicants should have a good undergraduate degree and a Master’s qualification in History of Art, History of Design, History, Eighteenth-Century Studies or other relevant discipline, and will need to satisfy AHRC academic and residency eligibility criteria.

Applicants should complete the application form and send it to Anthony Shepherd, the administrator for the MPhil/PhD programmes in the School of Arts at Birkbeck College (SoAFA@bbk.ac.uk) no later than 5.00pm on Tuesday 23 May 2017. 

Please note, this form asks applicants to provide the names and contact details of two academic referees (including one connected to the applicant’s most recent qualification). Applicants must also ask these referees to submit their references commenting on the candidate’s suitability for the award by the deadline.

Interviews will be held at the V&A Museum, London on Thursday 8 June 2017.

For further information about this studentship please contact Dr Kate Retford at Birkbeck College (k.retford@bbk.ac.uk) or Dr Sarah Grant at the V&A, London (s.grant@vam.ac.uk).

For more information please click "Further Official Information" below.

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