PhD History of Art
During her undergraduate and Master’s degrees, Christina Bradstreet had read the work of Birkbeck’s Professor of History of Art, Lynda Nead. Christina says: “I had admired Lynda Nead’s work and felt that there were synergies with my research interests so it was my ambition to work with her. From my first interview with her, she understood exactly what I was trying to achieve with my thesis and was extraordinarily insightful and helpful.
‘Early on in my studies, Professor Nead encouraged me to join the advisory board for the Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies. I also became Editorial Assistant for the journal 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century. The opportunity to be on an academic panel, organising conferences and prizes and to project manage the journal was hugely helpful for my career.
‘During my PhD I gave lots of conference papers, starting off through the Association of Art Historians’ ‘New Voices’ events, which provide emerging academics with a supportive forum in which to practise delivering papers. From there I moved on to giving papers at academic conferences around the theme of the senses, as my thesis was on smell in nineteenth-century art. I also undertook some teaching at undergraduate level.
‘Having a PhD has been instrumental in getting each of the roles that I have had since graduating. In my final semester I became a teacher of A Level History of Art, and then went on to become the Director of the Careers Service at Sotheby’s Institute of Art, helping students to get jobs in the arts market.
‘I am now Courses and Events Programmer at the National Gallery, organising courses, study days and special events. These range from a Renaissance hairdressing workshop to a series on Life Lessons from the Old Masters, looking at how paintings are relevant to contemporary audiences. I also teach on our programmes, so it’s a real mix of creative programming and teaching.
‘Having a PhD, and the networks and teaching experience that I gained at Birkbeck, really helps in my role.
‘During my PhD I just loved immersing myself in my research. But I also gained confidence from teaching, having a presence at committee meetings, presenting and organising conferences. All of those things have become a part of what I do now.’