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Cambridge AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership - Student Profiles



I graduated with a Double Starred First Class BA degree in History of Art from King's College, Cambridge in 2015, staying to complete the MPhil in History of Art and Architecture with Distinction. My MPhil thesis looked at various uses of undulating, frilly clouds as bordering devices in Gothic portal sculpture, arguing this common trope to have signalled a transition between different material and ontological states. Vapour, which was considered by scholastic thinkers to be half-way between something and nothing, often served as a visual liaison between corporeal and immaterial elements of complex compositions. 

My PhD research will investigate issues of pictorial depth, realism, and perspective in a broad corpus of thirteenth-century relief sculpture from France and England. It will focus on key examples such as the Chartres Cathedral jubé. It will interrogate nineteenth-century paradigms of 'realism' and narrative 'depth', and asses the extent to which these concepts still dominate our view of these pre-modern modes of representation. 

Other Academic Interests

I am interested in nineteenth- and twentieth-century receptions of medieval art and craft, and corresponding attempts to revive traditional craft practices in order to alleviate poverty, from William Morris to very contemporary examples of the same sentiment such as the Turquoise Mountain Project in Kabul. I am also interested in the tradition of English 'place' writing of the Roger Deakin school, and in the continuing role of various conceptions of the pre-modern in shaping discussion of sustainability and ecology. 

Department: History of Art and Architecture
Supervisor: Professor Paul Binski
College: King's College
AHRC Subject Area: History of Art
Title of Thesis: (Provisional) Relief Sculpture and Perspective in Thirteenth-Century France
 Robert  Hawkins