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Cambridge AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership - Student Profiles



I graduated with a First Class BA degree in History of Art from Cambridge in 2016. I began to focus on early modern gender construction in my third year dissertation, which situated an androgynous portrait within the broader fascination with gender play in the French court, c.1575. I decided to take this work further, staying to complete the MPhil in History of Art and Architecture. While French material reappeared in one of my shorter essays on Francesco Primaticcio’s frescoes at Fontainebleau, my thesis explored women in masculine clothing in early modern English visual culture.


My PhD will develop these themes, in the form of a comparative study of cross-dressing in northern art, from England, the Netherlands, France and parts of Germany. I will explore cross-dressing as a representational and performative strategy in art and society, foregrounding the social significance of clothing. My focus on northern art is partly spurred by the richness of the popular imagery in these areas, as I will examine the interplay of elite and popular images of cross-dressing, in order to highlight its meanings in a variety of contexts.


Other academic interests


My interests extend to early modern European visual and material culture in general, especially portraiture and prints. I am also interested in early modern court culture, theatre and literary criticism relating to this period. I have a broader interest in clothing, and in particular its role in gender construction and performance, beyond the early modern period.


Department: History of Art
Supervisor: Dr Alexander Marr
College: Downing
AHRC subject area: History of Art
Title of thesis: Cross-dressing in Art and Culture in Early Modern Northern Europe, c.1500-1650
 Alice  Blow