Coronavirus information and guidance

Student assistantships

The School of Art History offers undergraduate students the opportunity to gain experience in academic research through research assistantships.  Below is an outline of recently completed projects.


Menstrual Zines at Glasgow Women’s Library, Glasgow

Helene Erikstrup with Dr Camilla Mørk Røstvik, summer 2018

This project explored the Glasgow Women’s Library’s collections of menstruation-themed zines, and contributed historical and visual data for Dr Camilla Røstvik’s Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship about menstruation in visual culture. Helene Erikstrup found several interesting avenues for research, especially a series of zines from the 1990s by Saskia (unknown last name) titled Heavy Flow 1-4Erikstrup photographed and analysed the zines, and co-wrote an article with Røstvik about the findings for dissemination in the medical humanities blog Nursing Clio: The project provided evidence of menstrual equity work in Scotland in the 1990s, as well as evidence suggesting that artists were already formulating a critique of the UK menstrual industry as early as 1991. 


Looking for the menstrual cycle at The Surgeon’s Hall Museum, Edinburgh, summer 2019

Alex Stephenson with Dr Camilla Mørk Røstvik, summer 2019

Art History student Alex Stephenson planned, visited, and carried out research at the Surgeon’s Hall Museum in Edinburgh, in order to contribute to Dr Røstvik’s research on menstruation. She used the museum collection data base to find out what the museum holds in terms of the menstrual cycle (menarche, ovulation, menstruation, menopause, peri-menopause), especially from the twentieth century. Alex and Camilla visited the museum together to take notes, meet with the curators, and photograph relevant material in the Pathology Collection. Alex identified several themes in the collection, and we are currently writing this up for the medical humanities blog hosted by Durham University, The Polyphony. The research will contribute to Røstvik’s work on the visual histories of the menstrual cycle, and provided evidence of surgery’s general lack of interest in the menstrual cycle, as well as visual documentation of ‘normal’ and ‘diseased’ uteri from the decades before endometriosis was considered a serious problem and hysterectomy was a common solution to any menstrual issues.


Realism and Role-Play: The Human Figure in French Art from Callot to the Brothers Le Nain

Abigail Harding and Marika Takanishi Knowles

Abigail helped Marika organize and inventory over one hundred image files and permissions for Marika's monograph, Realism and Role-Play: The Human Figure in French Art from Callot to the Brothers Le Nain. This project allowed Abigail to learn about the stages of academic publication and the requirements for the reproduction of images, as well as the appropriate format of image captions. In addition, Abigail assisted Marika with research for another project, on Degas's 'bureau pictures,' by reading articles (here, Abigail used her excellent knowledge of French), taking notes, and discussing her findings with Marika. Realism and Role-Play is currently in production with the University of Delaware Press, while Marika is beginning to investigate the outlines of new project related to the material on Degas. Marika structured this assistantship so that Abigail could participate in and learn about two stages of the research process: the final stages of a manuscript nearing publication and the very preliminary stages of new work.


Museums and Community: Concepts, Experiences, and Sustainability in Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean

Laura Meuller, with Dr Karen Brown (academic year 2018-19)

Laura supported research generated through the School's Museums, Galleries and Collections Institute (MGCI) with particular focus on the EU-LAC-MUSEUMS project ( Working with Dr Karen Brown and Jamie Brown, she provided essential assistance with the editing and proof reading of project reports and publications especially those produced by non-native English speakers. Laura also assisted with bibliography searches and is credited for her work within a number of publications issuing from the International Council of Museums (ICOM) network.



Early 20th-Century Art Historiography in Bulgaria

Rada Georgieva with Dr Shona Kallestrup

The purpose of Rada’s assistantship was to help Dr Kallestrup analyse key texts from early 20th-century Bulgarian art history, in connection with the ERC project Art Historiographies in Central and Eastern Europe. Rada made a valuable contribution to the project by identifying texts of interest, summarising key arguments, and translating significant passages. Her findings, which enable comparisons with contemporary processes of art historical nation-building in Romania and Serbia, have been shared with team members in Bucharest and Kraków.


The Walker Trust Excavations of the Great Palace, Istanbul

Fiona Taylor with Dr Lenia Kouneni

The research project is an investigation of material kept in Special Collections regarding the excavation of the Byzantine Great Palace in Istanbul, which took place between 1935 and 1938, under the auspices of the Walker Trust of the University of St Andrews. Fiona Taylor, a fourth-year student interested in Byzantine art and historiography, looked through the material in order to uncover the figures involved, the scholars’ motivations and incentives, the means by which they accessed the monuments, and the networks they established.


Riding Astride? Ladies on horseback 1400-1830: A database

Zeynep Caserci with Dr Ulrike Elisabeth Weiss

The project works towards creating a database of the history of female equestrianism in the Early Modern period, with particular focus on the long 18th century. This will be the first in-depth study of the subject, and it will draw on material culture and images (portraits, caricatures, fashion plates) as well as textual analysis. The database, set up with the help of the IT research support team, provides an essential tool. Zeynep has successfully built on the work of two previous research assistants, and has covered a lot of ground both in terms of data input and of working on the thesaurus.


Art Criticism in late 18th century Britain

Emma with Dr Stephanie O’Rourke

This project examined art criticism in late 18th century Britain. Emma, a second-year art history student, used digitized archives made available by the British Library to transcribe understudied exhibition reviews. Her work was a valuable contribution to Dr O’Rourke’s current research on the relation between artistic production and a broader set of cultural practices in that period.


Modern Art beyond the West

Kriszta Rosu with Dr Sam Rose

The project involved working together on a new Honours course being developed, 'Modern Art beyond the West'. The course itself examined the rise of early- to mid-20th century ‘modern’ art in a range of countries not usually considered in Western survey courses. Over a number of weeks, the assistant, Kriszta Rosu, searched for new sources and wrote short summaries of readings, helping to analyse and expand on the lists of suggested core texts being compiled for the course.


The cultural, scientific and social dimension of EU-LAC relations

Kate Keohane with Dr Karen Brown

In Spring 2015, Kate Keohane carried out research assistance for a funding application to the EU Commission, Topic INT 12 (2015) “The cultural, scientific and social dimension of EU-LAC relations”, supervised by Dr Brown. Kate successfully provided research, editing and formatting for various components of the grant, working on the theme of contemporary art and migration in particular. Her assistance was invaluable, and an excellent learning opportunity towards her career aspirations.


British Art Dealers in 18th Century Italy 

Alice Zamboni with Professor Brendan Cassidy

Alice assisted Professor Brendan Cassidy by undertaking bibliographical work for his book on British art dealers in 18th century Italy. She worked in Venice for three weeks with Professor Cassidy, later transcribing and translating letters in the archives and annotating letters in various Venetian libraries. Alice’s help was invaluable.  Professor Cassidy describes Alice as “thorough, precise and extraordinarily hard working, the ideal research assistant”.


The social lives of paintings in 16th century Venice

Magda Michalska with Dr Elsje van Kessel

The purpose of this project was to research and order the best possible images to illustrate Elsje van Kessel’s monograph The Lives of Paintings: Presence, Agency and Likeness in Venetian Art of the Sixteenth Century (De Gruyter, 2017). Magda was able to apply her expert knowledge of Italian and various other European languages in her search for illustrations and acquired hands-on experience in the production of an art-historical book.


Autobiographies of 20th century Women Artists

Lucia Hawkes with Dr Linda Goddard

Lucia Hawkes is a third-year Art History Honours student. She won the O.E. Saunders Prize and was on the Dean's List for 2014-2015. To assist Dr Linda Goddard's research into artists' writings, Lucia explored autobiographies, memoirs, and other types of life writing by 20th century women artists, compiling an extensive bibliography of primary and secondary sources. Linda has been using this bibliographic resource for a journal article that she is writing.


Printmaking in Scotland in the 18th Century

Isabelle Mooney with Ann Gunn

The assistantship was to construct databases of Scottish printmakers and illustrated books for a website, the main outcome of an RSE-funded research workshop project. Isabelle used a variety of library and digital sources, including the Edinburgh Directories of 1773-1785, to compile Excel databases. In addition to acquiring new knowledge and research skills, Isabelle also attended one of the workshops to meet curators.


Alexis Berg, Forger of Medieval Bindings and Objects

Stephanie Hammer with Professor Kathryn Rudy

Stephanie Hammer completed research through the URAS program in New York City in summer 2017. At the Metropolitan Museum Archives and in the Morgan Library, she investigated forger of medieval bindings and other metal objects which were made by a Belgian named Alexis Berg in the 19th century. Hammer was able to determine where and when Alexis Berg worked, and who some of his collaborators were. Hammer’s findings make an important contribution to Professor Rudy’s long-term study about medieval forgeries.


Medieval and Renaissance Furniture Database

Réka Krizbai with Dr Agnès Bos, spring 2019

The aim of the project was to launch and implement a new image database dedicated to Medieval and Renaissance furniture, useful for future research and publication projects in that field. This database is hosted by the University of St Andrews Image database. Réka entered and described in the database pictures of pieces of furniture kept in various locations. She has successfully carried out the task, learning and using the relevant vocabulary.