News from the Faculty of Arts

This month's faculty update is from the Faculty of Arts. Find out about a pair of state-of-the-art research facilities, the academics receiving research fellowships and more.

Arts. VIP lab

The Virtual and Immersive Production Studios

Located in the sound studio of the old Carlton TV Studies (the University’s Kings Meadow Campus site), the Virtual and Immersive Studio is a new specialist production facility to incubate innovation in film, TV and performance arts production and audience engagement.

The Studio enables collaborative research and experimentation through to commercialisation, drawing on multidisciplinary collaborations across Arts, Engineering and Computer Science.

As the Studio develops, we aim to support future inclusive community outreach programmes that facilitate skills and talent development - contributing to the growth of a creative and digital talent and business cluster in Nottingham and addressing a national need for new skills in screen industries. 

The Archaeology Laboratories in Classics and Archaeology

The Department of Classics and Archaeology attracted a significant Arts and Humanities Research Council award to refurbished and upgrade the archaeological labs in early 2023 and will launch the new facilities in July with an ambition to develop a new network of heritage science services, technologies, capabilities, and collections from across the University to support the cultural and heritage sector adapt to climate change. 

Prestigious research fellowships awarded

Eight academics have been awarded nine prestigious national and international research fellowships. Funders include the Arts and Humanities Research Council, British Academy, Gerda Henkel Foundation, Leverhulme Trust and Loeb Classical Library Foundation.

The academics, from across the Faculty of Arts, have secured over half a million pounds in funding for their projects:

Frequently asked questions

Dr Nick Baron (Gerda Henkel Foundation Fellowship and Leverhulme Research Fellowship), Associate Professor in History: The Power of Maps: Cartography and Cultural Revolution in the USSR, 1917-1957.

This project investigates the cultural role of cartography in the USSR, from the Revolution to Sputnik. It asks *what maps meant* and *why they mattered* within Soviet ideological, political, and social discourses and in everyday life, and relates Soviet cartographic culture to wider international contexts.

It is based on 15 years of visits to Russian archives and libraries, analysing maps, atlases, archival documents, and a rich variety of cultural sources, from art, architecture, photography, and film to literature, diaries, and memoirs. The resulting monograph will be the first archives-based, interdisciplinary, comparative study of Soviet mapping.

It will argue that Soviet culture construed cartography as a means not only of producing and projecting the regime’s worldview but also of recreating citizens’ sense of space, time, and self: maps not only mediated reality, but remade it. By illuminating the culturally-transformative power of cartography, the project will furnish innovative, timely, and telling new perspectives on Soviet history, the making of twentieth-century modernity, and the sources of post Soviet Russia's neo-imperialist spatial imagination and self-identity.

Dr Peter Darby (Leverhulme Research Fellowship), Assistant Professor in History: Northumbrian letters in the Age of Bede (c. 673–735).

This project interrogates the epistolary writings produced in Northumbria in its ‘Golden Age’ of learning, during which the kingdom's scholars laid the foundations for the Carolingian Renaissance. Letters were crucial for circulating information within the kingdom and also served as its primary means of communication with the wider world.

The fellowship will generate a monograph which, for the first time, defines and contextualises the crucial contribution made by Northumbria to Latin epistolography. This contribution involved the repurposing of classical and Christian templates, the introduction of new letter writing techniques, and the redefinition of women’s roles in medieval epistolary networks.

Dr Matthew Duncombe (Loeb Classical Library Foundation), Associate Professor in Philosophy: How Euclides, Eubulides, Stilpo and Diodorus transformed Eleaticism after Socrates: the first monograph and English edition of the Megaric and Dialectical Schools.

After Socrates' death in 399BCE, many of his followers founded philosophical schools. Some have been thoroughly studied, such as the Cynics and Cyrenaics. However, the Megarics and Dialecticians, especially Euclides, Eubulides, Stilpo and Diodorus, have been neglected.

This neglect is despite their historical significance: Plato and Aristotle reacted to these schools while Stoicism, Scepticism and Epicureanism developed under their influence. Nor does philosophical insignificance explain the neglect: Megarics developed enduring philosophical problems, such as the Liar Paradox ('this sentence is false'), while Dialecticians articulated key philosophical positions, such as fatalism and atomism.

Dr Lucy Jones (British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship), Associate Professor in English: Language and LGBTQ+ Youth: Analysing Marginalised Identities through an Intersectional Lens.

This research develops a new framework for the sociolinguistic analysis of intersectionality, whereby factors such as gender, race, and age combine to marginalise speakers in unique ways. It demonstrates how sociolinguists can account for this in their analyses of identity construction. The framework builds upon discourse analysis of interview data with LGBTQ+ youth, which has already been collected via ethnographic fieldwork (funded through a BA Small Grant).

The analysis explores the links between the young people’s lived experiences and their positioning of themselves, through their language use, in relation to the wider world. Through an exploration of how the young people communicate multifaceted and variable aspects of their identity, the intersectional framework will be outlined and demonstrated. The research will also enhance understanding of the language of LGBTQ+ identity and the intersectional nature of structural inequality through a series of public engagement interventions developed in partnership with the young people.

Dr Simon Malloch (Loeb Classical Library Foundation), Associate Professor in Classics and Archaeology: The Annals of Tacitus, book 12.

This project will bring to completion my comprehensive study of Tacitus’ narrative of the principate of Claudius. My edition of Annals 12 will form a ‘sequel’ to The Annals of Tacitus, book 11, which was published by Cambridge in the same series in 2013. This critical edition offered advanced students and scholars a newly-edited Latin text and full commentary on textual, linguistic, literary, historiographical, and a wide range of historical subjects and issues arising from the narrative. It was received positively by scholars around the world. For example, A. Ramírez de Verger (Spain) wrote in Bryn Mawr Classical Review (USA), ‘at a time when we are witnessing a certain decline in the critical edition of classical texts and philological commentaries, we must heartily welcome works as outstanding as this volume by Malloch’, while D. Wardle (South Africa) in Ancient History Bulletin (USA) and S. Bartera (USA) in Histos (UK) declared that it was the new standard edition of Annals 11. I like to think that my current project will also become the standard point of reference for Annals 12.

Dr Henry Parkes (Arts and Humanities Research Council), Associate Professor in Music: Music in the Shadows: Staging Medieval Night Worship 800-1300.

This fellowship sets out to explore medieval traditions of singing and praying by night, as cultivated in churches across Western Europe between 800 and 1300. Although little known today, the form of daily worship known as the Night Office was a towering presence in pre-modern religious life. Long, dramatic, musically challenging, and often a site of artistic creativity, it was also physically arduous for those who rose from their sleep to perform it each night.

As the first cultural study of night worship in medieval Europe, my project will nurture an entirely new area in musicological and interdisciplinary medieval research, pioneering innovative methods to achieve its goals.

Dr Lara Pucci (Leverhulme Research Fellowship), Assistant Professor in Cultures, Media and Visual Studies: Visual Cultures of Landscape in the Fascist Imaginar.

Throughout the period of Fascist rule in Italy (1922-43), Italian landscapes were heavily politicised by the regime. From the claiming of the mountain landscapes that had been nationalised by World War I, to the discourse of internal colonialism that framed land reclamation projects, and the projection of overseas colonial ambitions onto the peninsula’s extensive coastline, Italy’s land mass was appropriated by Fascism in both concrete and symbolic terms. This research examines how art and visual culture shaped Fascist conceptions of the Italian landscape in order to investigate the function of landscape within Fascism's political project.

Dr Edmund Stuart (Gerda Henkel Foundation Fellowship – personal award), Assistant Professor in Classics and Archaeology: The Tyrant’s Progress: A Comparative History of Ancient Greek Tyranny (c. 600-200 BC) and Twentieth Century Personalist Dictatorships.

This project is the first ever comparative historical study of ancient Greek tyranny and modern personalist dictatorships. The aims are a) to revise radically our understanding of Greek tyranny through the first systematic employment of comparative data from modern regimes and b) to prompt a reassessment of modern dictatorships that is grounded in ancient political theory.

My hypothesis is that the monopolisation of power produces broadly similar cross-cultural and cross-temporal patterns of behaviour, which are rational and, to some extent, predictable. This research aims to demonstrate that patterns similar to those described by ancient theorists can be empirically demonstrated in both ancient historical accounts of tyranny and the (more abundant) modern data concerning regimes where power has been highly personalised. If so, ancient political theory becomes a potentially significant model for autocratic behaviour.

Promising young academics recognised

Four Leverhulme Early Career Fellowships have also recently been awarded to promising young academics. The three-year fellowships are co-funded by the university and were awarded across a broad range of projects:

Frequently asked questions

Dr Chloe Julius (hosted by the Department of Cultures, Media and Visual Studies): Barbara Rose and the critique of American art after the 1960s.

This project explores the critique of American art after the 1960s through the intellectual contribution of art historian, critic and curator Barbara Rose. During the 1960s, Rose was one of the most well-read and vocal defenders of American art, yet her subsequent disillusionment caused her work to fall out of favour.

In providing the first in-depth study of Rose’s unique intellectual trajectory, my project will pick up this forgotten but crucial strain of the historiography of American art. Underpinned by original archival research, the resulting monograph will advance an art history constituted by its critics as well as its champions.

Dr Marco Panato (hosted by the Departments of History and Classics and Archaeology): Between Land and Sea: Marshes and Society in Early Medieval Italy (500-1100).

My project considers, for the first time, how and why early medieval Italian coastal marshes promoted interaction between sea and land and influenced the new socio-economic patterns of the post-Roman world. Using methodologies developed in northern European contexts, I will analyse the Vetricella and Luni-Pisa marshlands (Liguria-Tuscany), comparing them with the well-studied Adriatic lagoons, highlighting differences/similarities.

Published historical documents and archaeological records will be paired with recently available geomorphological-palaeo-environmental reconstructions to explore alternative human-environment relationships that led to 11th-12th-century socio-economic/urban growth and evaluate how communities reacted to environmental changes and risks, expanding our knowledge of early medieval Italian coastal ecologies.

Dr Sasha Rasmussen (hosted by Department of History): Behind Closed Doors: Homosocial Spaces and Women’s Intimacy in Russia, 1900-1928.

Behind Closed Doors traces how female intimacy was forged, expressed, fractured, and remade amidst the violent social and political upheavals of the revolutionary period. Focusing on St Petersburg and the Baltic region, it employs both textual and visual sources to explore the homosocial settings and physical spaces which facilitated intimate connections between women.

This project represents a fundamental rethinking of the revolutionary experience, told through its most human aspect: it seeks to illuminate the contours of women’s intimate lives, and in doing so, interrogates the interconnections between power and private life in time of conflict and radical transformation.

Dr Thea Sommerschield (hosted by the Department of Classics and Archaeology): Connecting the Past: deep neural networks for ancient Greek networks.

This project uses Artificial Intelligence to study networks of Greek migration in the archaic-classical periods, examining on an unprecedented scale the epigraphic evidence for overseas settlement. Inscriptions document the connections between Greek cities and their settlements abroad, but the nature, directionality and effects of these interactions have not been comprehensively investigated.

Machine Learning models trained on thousands of inscriptions are receptive to these epigraphic connections: I will undertake the first quantitative analysis and historical interpretation of the patterns of practice identified by state-of-the-art AI models across the entire digitised epigraphic record, retracing Mediterranean networks through expected and unexpected settlement events.

Svenja Adolphs completes the first stage of her important work on health inequalities

Professor Svenja Adolphs (School of English) is leading a cross-institution interdisciplinary team in research on health inequality. Her most recent project looks at the recent surge in popularity of wild swimming and the significant opportunity to leverage and scale the use of blue spaces as community assets to combat health inequalities.  

Working with partners including Swim England, Black Swimming Association, The National Trust, Freshwater Biological Association, UK Centre for Hydrology and Ecology, Leicestershire County Council, Social Prescribing at Partners Health, and Thrive health content developers, the team has been developing an evidence base on the health benefits of wild swimming and exploring how that can be used in inclusive communication and public messaging, and what kind of mechanisms and relationships need to be formed and formalised to enable inclusive access to blue spaces.

Anna Greenwood secures a Wellcome Discovery award: Kicking the Habit: Historicising ‘Addictive’ Sport Sponsorship in Britain, 1965-2025

Professor Anna Greenwood (Department of History), working with colleagues in the University of Glasgow and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine has secured a multimillion-pound award to explore sports sponsorship by the addictive industries of tobacco, alcohol and gambling and the resultant pressures placed on health services and damage to lives.

This important project will be the first to systematically map and analyse professional sport sponsorship from a historical perspective. While tobacco sponsorship is no longer legal, sports fans are still routinely exposed to sponsorship by the alcohol and gambling industries.

Marketing is shown to directly impact the behaviours of those vulnerable to health harms, prompting unplanned betting in nine out of ten people experiencing gambling problems. Stimulated by the 2021-22 UK governmental gambling review (that includes an examination of sponsorship), the team will analyse the tobacco, alcohol, and gambling industries’ relationships with five professional sports (football, rugby, cricket, formula one, tennis).