Historical Studies at Bristol consist of two subject areas, History of Art and History, which each have their own degree programme, though students are encouraged to treat staff across the departments as a collective resource. What is distinctive about both in combination is the way in which their research is made outward-looking, directed both into the activities of students and to audiences and partners outside as well as within the academic system. This characteristic is manifested in a number of different ways:
- In degree programmes which aim to turn students into practising historians and art historians by the time that they graduate, enabling them to learn the essential skills of professionals and to research and write history and art history for themselves.
- In a broad spectrum of engagement with public bodies and arenas, including English Heritage, various museums and art galleries, schools, writers’ groups, government departments and film and television companies. We have a 'Public History' pathway to the History MA programme and hold an annual festival of history, Past Matters, for the citizens of Bristol and friends. A parallel strand in the History of Art MA offers a number of curatorial units in collaboration with museum partners locally and nationally.
- In an interest in major themes which cut across chronological and disciplinary boundaries in research and teaching, such as the environment, the body, and visual and material culture.
- In the continued development of a broad span of subjects for teaching and research, allowing plenty of choice to students and staff alike, with particular strengths in the medieval and early modern, modern and contemporary periods, and in imperial and colonial history.
- In a participation in the widest possible spans of academic collaboration and association, including a particular input into the World University Network.
- Staff and postgraduate students in the Department of History of Art are engaged in a wide range of individual and collaborative research activity. The Department plays a key role in University research initiatives, and in developments with collaborators across a wide range of institutions, nationally and internationally.
There are critical masses of activity in a number of areas (medieval visual culture, interrelationships in art and music and European Modernism especially) and these are complemented by research on other themes and periods.
Research themes include
- Medieval and Renaissance art
- 17th-century Italian art
- Modernisms (including British modern and contemporary art)
- Audio-visual culture
- Soviet visual culture
- German Expressionism
- Art and Writing