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Biographical details

I have a background in practical photography, but after working for a number of years (I started as a teenager assisting photographer Maria Mulas in Milan) and studying for a BA in Photography, Film and Television at the London College of Printing (now LCC), I realised I was more interested in thinking and researching existing photographs than making new ones, so I studied for an MA in History of Art at Birkbeck. Writing my first essay made me realise that this was a much more joyous and rewarding way to explore my fascination with photography and the different ways and modes in which people interact with it, physically and intellectually.

My PhD, with Professor Lynda Nead, examined nineteenth-century women's albums, in particular those combining photography with other media and using forms of photo-collage. It has been published as Women's Albums and Photography in Victorian England: Ladies, Mothers and Flirts (Ashgate, 2007). This work also features in Playing with Pictures: The Art of Victorian Photocollage, the catalogue of the exhibition organised by the Art Institute of Chicago (Yale University Press, 2009).

I have been appointed full-time at Birkbeck in 2003, where I have convened The Photobook, an AHRC-funded research network for a series of workshops, a conference (April 2009), and a collected volume now published by IB Tauris. I teach the history and theory of photography with undergraduate and postgraduate students ('with' because for me, teaching, learning and research work best as a collective and collaborative activity); convene the MA in History of Art with Photography, one of the few in the country; and I co-direct, with Steve Edwards, the History and Theory of Photography Research Centre at Birkbeck. I am on the editorial board of the journals History of PhotographyArt History, and Photographies.

Over a handful of closely analysed case studies, spanning from 1847 to the present, my monograph on Sculptural Photographs: From the Calotype to Digital Technologies (Bloomsbury, 2018), explores how sculpture has been not only a beautiful and convenient subject matter for photographs, or commercial and cultural opportunities for photographers in the market for art reproductions, but also an exemplar for thinking about photography as a medium based on mechanical means of production. Rooted in an understanding of the practical, social and aesthetic implications of photographic as well as sculptural technologies, my study demonstrates that photographs of sculpture are particularly useful in revealing how photography’s changing materialities shape the meaning of images as they are made, circulated, looked at, written about and handled at different historical moments.

Preliminary versions of some of this materials have been published in 'The Sculptural Photograph in the Nineteenth Century', a special issue of History of Photography I guest edited (Volume 37, Issue 4, November 2013).