skip to content

Cambridge AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership - Student Profiles


PhD research

The early modern period bears witness to a wealth of images, from portraits and satires to mythological episodes, depicting gender ambiguous figures and fashions. In English Literature and History, this period attracted some of the first scholarship on cross-dressing, androgyny, and gender inversion, in particular surrounding the phenomenon of boy actors on the Shakespearean stage. Yet gender ambiguous figures in early modern art have traditionally gone overlooked, or else their comprehension has suffered from modern misunderstandings. This thesis reframes the discussion around ambiguity, in order to encourage an understanding of these works that is fully informed by their historical and artistic context. 


These ideas are explored in English and French art. Being geographically close, culturally connected, yet varying greatly in their approach to gender ambiguity, these locations form ideal case studies for this method. Ultimately, this thesis seeks to provide a context for how these images may have been received by contemporaries, when written accounts of their reception do not always exist. This framework provides a period-appropriate way to account for gender ambiguity in art that maintains the essentially ambiguous character that challenged contemporaries, sometimes representing a thrilling interpretative challenge, other times a transgressive force that needed to be contained. 





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.



My interests extend to early modern European visual and material culture in general, especially portraiture and prints. 

Teaching and Supervisions


I supervise Display of Art, a third year module about the history and politics of museums and other collections, and the special subject, Tudor Visual Culture, in the History of Art department.

Department: History of Art
Supervisor: Dr Alexander Marr
College: Downing
AHRC subject area: History of Art
Title of thesis: Gender Ambiguity in Early Modern English and French Art