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Dr Catherine Spencer

Dr Catherine Spencer


Researcher profile

+44 (0)1334 462402


Research areas

My research and teaching focus on art since the 1960s in the US, Latin America and Europe, particularly in relation to performance; technologies of mediation; internationalism and transnationalism; sociology, psychology and psychoanalysis; and sexuality, gender and histories of feminist practice. These concerns inform my book Beyond the Happening: Performance Art and the Politics of Communication, forthcoming with Manchester University Press in their Rethinking Art?s Histories series, which has been supported by a Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship. I have published related articles in Art History, Oxford Art Journal, Tate Papers and Parallax. With Jo Applin and Amy Tobin I am the co-editor of London Art Worlds: Mobile, Contingent and Ephemeral Networks, 1960?1980, published by Penn State University Press in 2018.  

Currently, I am pursuing two new projects: the first is a study of the Californian artist Jay DeFeo under the working title Jay DeFeo: Abstraction in Pieces, supported by the British Academy. The second, Green Unpleasant Land: Art, Abstraction and Locational Politics, addresses how artists have negotiated the intersections of politics and abstraction from the 1970s and 1980s through to the present, looking at the practices of Rasheed Araeen, Prunella Clough, Rita Donagh, Franki Raffles and Veronica Ryan, among others. This project has been awarded an AHRC Early Career Leadership Fellowship, for which I will be on research leave until September 2020.  

I have seen two PhDs to completion and currently supervise three more, on topics including exhibition practice and hidden pedagogies, contemporary art and the Caribbean, performance art in the US, and modernism in Britain. I would be delighted to hear from potential students whose work converges with the above research areas.

PhD supervision

  • Kate Keohane
  • Martyna Majewska
  • Isabelle Mooney

Selected publications and performances


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