Professor and Queen's National Scholar
My current research interests include medieval art, architecture and aesthetics, episodes of medievalism in Western art, British art, relationships between architecture, the decorative arts and the history of sexuality, and the historiography and theory of art history.
My career has long straddled North America and Europe. Beginning at the University of Toronto, I moved to do my graduate work at Cambridge University. Before coming to Queen's as Associate Professor and Queen's National Scholar, I held a permanent post at the University of London. Working on art in all media, I have published widely on medieval art, including a monograph Thirteenth-Century Wall Painting of Salisbury Cathedral: Art, Liturgy and Reform (Boydell 2008), Reading Gothic Architecture (Brepols 2008) and Tributes to Pierre du Prey: Architecture and the Classical Tradition (Harvey Miller 2014).
A second area of interest has been the afterlife of medieval forms and ideas in the art and literature of modernity (i.e. medievalism). My recent book, Gothic Architecture and Sexuality in the Circle of Horace Walpole, was published by Penn State in 2020 and won the Historians of British Art Book Prize in 2021. Locating the shared tastes for the Gothic within the homoerotic culture of Walpole's circle, this project explored relationships between the Gothic and the "modern styles" of the eighteenth century and contemporary changes in human sexuality and subjectivity. A second book (with Michael Windover), Casa Loma: Medievalism, Modernity and Millionaires in Toronto's Gilded Age, was funded by a four-year Insight Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and will be out soon with McGill-Queen's University Press.
I am currently working on a number of different projects. Funded by a CFI grant (with Norman Vorano), I am the co-founder of MobArch, Queen’s University’s Mobile Laboratory for the Study of the Built Environment which employs LIDAR scanning and other technologies torecord and conserve the built environment. Second, I am working on a monograph on the extraordinary sculpture of Wells Cathedral and its place in European art. Originating in my research on Walpole’s circle, a third project is The Casa Manetti, Florence: Homoerotic Networks, the Grand Tour, and the Origins of Queer Aesthetics in Britain, which explores the central role of travel in shaping a queer aesthetics in eighteenth century Britain. Finally, a long-range project, Gothic art, Colonization and Spirituality in Wales c. 1170-1540, considers the remarkable flourishing of art and architecture in medieval Wales vis-à-vis the process of colonization before and after the loss of independence in 1284 (supported by a five-year grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada).
In 2022-2023 I will be the Paul Mellon Senior Fellow in British Art.
Recent and Upcoming Lectures
'Fragments from Wisdom's House: Artistry and Exegesis in the Lady Chapel Juxta Claustrum at Wells', Medieval Centre, University of Bristol (invited). November 5, 2020.
'Gothic Architecture and Sexuality in the Circle of Horace Walpole' special session on my recent book, with responses by Bob Mills and Freya Gowrley. Architecture, Space and Society Centre, Birkbeck College, University of London. October 29, 2020.
‘Location, Performance, History: the West Facade of Wells Cathedral Reconsidered’, Location, Location, Location: In-situ Iconography within the Medieval Built Environment (Index of Christian Art, Princeton, Sponsored Session), ICMA Kalamazoo, MI. May 2020.
‘Gothic Architecture and the Liberty Trope’, Houses of Politicians Conference, Manchester UK. November 2019.
"Children of Strawberry": Influence and referentiality in the English Gothic Revival', Lee B. Anderson Memorial Lecture, Bard Graduate Centre, New York. October, 2019. To watch the lecture see here.
'Body Politics and Gothic Architecture in the Long Eighteenth Century', Picture, Structure, Land: New Directions in British Art, Columbia University, New York. May, 2019.
Respondent to 'The Continued Lives of Medieval Spaces and Objects', Sewanee Medieval Symposium, Sewanee, Tennessee. April, 2019.
'Queer Family Romance in the Strawberry Hill Collections', Text, Artefact, Identity: Horace Walpole and the Queer Eighteenth Century, Strawberry Hill, London, UK. February 16, 2019.
Session chair, The World of Casa Loma, Society for the Study of Architecture in Canada, St John, Newfoundland. May 22-25, 2018.
‘Back to Umberto Eco: Living in the New “New Middle Ages”’, International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, MI. May 11, 2018.
‘Horace Walpole's Crypto-Catholicism', The Mysterious Mother: Tercentenary Celebrations of the birth of Horace Walpole. British Art Centre, Yale University. May 3, 2018.
'Queer Family Romance at Horace Walpole's Strawberry Hill’, Department of English, Queen’s University. March 20, 2018.
‘Disjecta Membra: The ex-situ spandrels of the Lady Chapel “juxta claustrum” of Wells Cathedral’, Canadian Conference of Medieval Art Historians, Carleton University, Ottawa, ON. March 17, 2018.
Vetusta Monumenta Symposium, Los Angeles, California. March 1-2, 2018.
'Politics of Bodies, Politics of Buildings: from "play" to "panic" in the Gothic architecture of the Long Eighteenth Century' Gothic Modernisms Symposium, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. June 29, 2017.
Select Recent and Forthcoming Work
An Epithalamium in Stone: The West Facade of Wells Cathedral. Journal of the British Archaeological Association, 175 (2022), forthcoming.
Wall Painting and Sacred Space, The Cambridge History of Religious Architecture: the Middle Ages, ed by Stephen Murray, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming.
The Public Setting: furniture of the Great Church and the aristocratic household, in A Cultural History of Furniture: the Middle Ages and Renaissance, ed. Erin J. Campbell, London: Bloomsbury, forthcoming.
Fragments from Wisdom's House: The Lady chapel Juxta Claustrum at Wells Cathedral, Medieval Gothic: Art, Architecture and Ideas. Tributes to Paul Binski, ed. Julian Luxford, Brepols 2021, 186-197.
Canadian Gothic: Empire, medievalism, and modernity at Sir Henry Pellatt's Casa Loma, A Medieval Legacy: The ongoing life of forms in the built environment. Essays in honour of Professor Malcolm Thurlby, ed. Jessica Mace, Montreal, 2020, 351-72.
Michael Camille's Queer Middle Ages, The Routledge Companion to Medieval Iconography, ed Colum Hourihane, Abingdon and London 2017, 154-72.
A child of Strawberry: Thomas Barrett and Lee Priory, Kent (with Peter Lindfield-Ott), Burlington Magazine, CLVII (2015), 836-42.
A Gothic Vatican of Greece and Rome': Horace Walpole, Strawberry Hill, and the Narratives of Gothic, Tributes to Pierre du Prey: Architecture and the Classical Tradition, from Pliny to Posterity, ed. Matthew M Reeve, New York and London: Harvey Miller 2014, 185-210.
Gothic Architecture, Sexuality and License at Horace Walpole's Strawberry Hill, Art Bulletin XCV (Sept 2013), 411-39.
Dickie Bateman and the Gothicization of Old Windsor: Architecture and Sexuality in the Circle of Horace Walpole, Architectural History 56 (2013), 99-133.
Of Druids, the Gothic, and the Origins of Architecture: the Garden Designs of William Stukeley, British Art Journal (December 2012), XIII: 3, 9-18.
Gothic Architecture and the Civilizing Process: The Great Hall in Thirteenth Century England, New Directions in Medieval Architectural History, eds. Abby McGehee, Rob Bork, and William Clark, Aldershot and New York: Ashgate, 2011, 93-112.
The Capital Sculpture of Wells Cathedral: Patrons, Masons, and the Margins of English Gothic Architecture, Journal of the British Archaeological Association, 163 (2010), 72-109.