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Dr Suzannah Biernoff

Senior Lecturer in Modern and Contemporary Visual Culture

BA (University of Sydney), PhD (University of Technology, Sydney)


Suzannah joined Birkbeck in 2007, having previously taught on the Visual Culture programme at Middlesex University and at Chelsea College of Art and Design. Since completing her PhD in Sydney, Australia, her publications have spanned medieval and modern history. Her first monograph, Sight and Embodiment in the Middle Ages, was published in Palgrave’s New Middle Ages series in 2002. Recent publications, supported by a Wellcome Trust Research Leave Award from 2007-10, pursue the themes of embodiment and visual anxiety through the modern period. Portraits of Violence: War and the Aesthetics of Disfigurement will be published in early 2017 by The University of Michigan Press in their series Corporealities: Discourses of Disability. The project is distinctive in its attention to the face – which has tended to be overlooked in histories of the body – and in its use of visual sources as historical documents, from clinical photographs and life drawings to portrait masks and photo albums; sources that complicate and at times contradict the written record of injury and repair.

Suzannah is co-director, with Dr Joanne Winning, of Birkbeck’s Medical Humanities Research Group, and teaches two MA options in the School of Arts: Fashioning the Body and Exhibiting the Body. In 2014 she was awarded a Wellcome Trust Small Grant in Medical Humanities for Visualising Illness: a programme of events that brought together 20 stakeholders with an interest in visual first-person responses to illness and pain, from a range of professional and disciplinary backgrounds, including clinicians, art therapists, artists, and art historians. Other research collaborations include an Advisory role on the AHRC Likeness and Facial Recognition Network (2010-11); membership of the AHRC Alternate Spaces of the Great War network (2013-14); and the INTERREG (European Regional Development Fund) 1914FACES2014 research network examining the medical, cultural and artistic legacy of les Gueules cassés in Europe and North America. She is currently collaborating on the multi-institutional Effaced project with the charity Changing Faces and researchers at Swansea, Cardiff, Exeter, Nottingham and Reading. Supported by a Wellcome Trust Seed Award, Effaced explores the social and cultural significance of disfigurement from antiquity to the present day.

Suzannah was recently awarded a Birkbeck Wellcome Trust ISSF mid-career fellowship and will be on research leave in 2016-17.

Contact details


Mailing address

Department of History of Art
School of Arts
Birkbeck, University of London
43 Gordon Square
London WC1H 0PD

About Dr Suzannah Biernoff