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Dr Zoe Opacic

  • Overview



    Zoë Opacic was appointed lecturer in History and Theory of Architecture in 2004 and is currently senior lecturer at the Department of History of Art.

    She received her BA and MA at the Courtauld Institute of Art, where she also completed her PhD (2003). Her doctoral thesis on the Emmaus Monastery in Prague, focused on the relationship between that religious institution, its cultural and urban context, as well as its role in the displays of relics in Medieval Prague.

    Previously, her MA thesis on St Thomas' church in Winchelsea also investigated correlated issues of religious architecture, town planning and royal patronage.

    She has taught courses at Morley College and the Courtauld Institute of Art and, prior to her appointment at Birkbeck, she was a junior research fellow at the University of Cambridge. She has since lectured widely in UK and abroad.

    Between 2015 and 2016 she was Leverhulme research fellow working on the book project Architecture and Spectacle in the Late Medieval City.


    • BA, Courtauld Institute of Art
    • MA, Courtauld Institute of Art
    • PhD, Courtauld Institute of Art

    Visiting posts

    Professional activities

    Editor of the Journal of the British Archaeological Association (2015-2018)

    Organiser of the Architecture, Space and Society Centre.

    Curator of the exhibition: 'Diamond Vaults' at the Architectural Association (November-December, 2005)

    External examiner: University of York, Courtauld Institute of Art, UCL, University of Warwick,  Central European University, Budapest.

    Peer reviewer for a large number of journals including: Studies in Iconography, Speculum, Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte, Convivium, IKON, JONA (Journal of the North Atlantic), Mellon Studies in British Art, Medieval and Early Modern Material Culture online (MEMO), The Sculpture Journal.


    Staging Urbanity in the Late medieval City: the examples of Prague and Nuremberg, Conference; Urbanities: History, Concept Uses, University of Erfurt and Max Weber Institute, Ettersburg, November, 2022

    The Chapel of Our Lady of the Assumption at Spišský Štvrtok and its International Context (with Alexandra Gajewski), BAA conference Košice: Medieval Art and Architecture in Eastern Slovakia July 2022

    Member of the International Review panel of the Czech Academy of Sciences and of the Austrian Academy

    The impact of Brexit on the Higher Education in the UK and it European Connexions, 36 Congress of German Art Historians, Forum ‘Exchange Across Barriers: Researching British Art Post-Brexit organised by the Forum Art History of Britain and Ireland, March 2022

    Death and Commemoration in late-medieval Vienna,  Max Weber Institute, University of Erfurt (Project: Religion and Urbanity Reciprocal Formations), July 2020

    Monachi Sclaui nigri ordinis de Crawacie? Charles IV and Dalmatia, Conference Carolo IV e L’Italia, Istituto Storico Italiano per il Medioevo/ Deutsches Historisches Institut, Rome 2019

    Krakow, Prague and Vienna as new Capitals, 94th Annual Meeting of the Medieval Academy of America: The Global Turn in medieval Studies, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, 7-9th March, 2019

    Places of Greater Safety: Imperial Treasures and Treasuries in the Holy Roman Empire, Conference: Secret Spaces: Medieval Sacristies, Vestries, Treasure Rooms and their Contents, Society of Antiquaries of London, 25th February, 2019

    Respondent at the conference Religion and Urbanity: Theorising Mutual Formations, Augustinerkloster, Erfurt, 6-8 November 2018

    Between Private Devotion and State Piety: The making of religious landscape in the Imperial Cities of Central Europe, The European Association for the Study of Religions, Bern May 2018

    Re-Shaping Cultural memory: The Cult of Slavonic Saints in 14th-Century Bohemia, International Medieval Congress, Leeds, July, 2018

    'Awake thou that Sleepest': the Resurrection of Mary Magdalene in Central Europe, lecture, British Archaeological Association, 7 March, 2017.

    From the Cattle Market to Charles Square - the development of a Town Square in Central Europe, Workshop: Towns as Living Spaces: Static and Dynamic Aspects of urban Topography, Institut für österreichische Geschichtsforschung (Universität Wien) and Institut für Realienkunde des Mittelalters und der frühen Neuzeit (Universität Salzburg), 4-6 October, 2017.

    Palace on the Hill: Prague's Hrad and Krakow's Wawel as Seats of Power in Medieval Central Europe, International Medieval Congress, Leeds, 3-6 July, 2017.

    Charles IV: Architectural Legacy and Modern Urban Environment. Panel discussion, London Festival of Architecture, London St Ethelburga Centre, 7th June, 2016

    New Towns and their Legacy in Late Medieval Central Europe,MECERN conference, 'Unity and Diversity in medieval (Central) Europe', Olomouc 31 March - 2 April, 2016

    Prague's New Town and Religious Plurality under Charles IV. Conference 'Charles IV: An Emperor in Europe (1316-2016)', University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, 14 October, 2016

    Architecture of medieval Buda in Context, discussion panel on the occasion of the launch of 'Medieval Buda in Context' (Brill, 2016), Central European University, Budapest, 23 September, 2016

    Charles at 700 - an Emperor on Display. Public lecture, Prague, National Gallery 15 September, 2016

    Cui Bono? The Founding and the Funding of Medieval Religious Institutions under Charles IV. International workshop: Secular and Ecclesiastical Networks in Medieval Central Europe ca. 1100-1400, University of Vienna, 9 June, 2017.

    'Through me Kings Rule': A Curious History of the Imperial Coronation Regalia. Conference: Collections and Collecting Ancient, Medieval and Byzantine Art, Christie's Education, London, 23 March, 2017.

    The Luxembourgs: the making and unmaking of a great European dynasty. Late medieval Europe seminar, Oxford, Corpus Christi College, 24 February, 2016

    From Sacroscape to Cityscape: Images of Central European Towns in Late Medieval Sources. Od veduty k fotografii. Inscenování města v jeho historii, Clam-Gallas Palace, Prague, 6-7 October, 2015

    A Tale of Three Cities: Architecture and Spectacle in Prague, Krakow and Vienna. Keynote lecture, Urbanity and Society in the Middle Ages, University of York, King's Manor, 22 May, 2015

    Peter Parler: the Emperor's Architect and the creation of Late Gothic Style. ULEMHAS, 13 April, 2015

    The Resurrection Tympanum and the Cult of Mary Magdalene in Late Medieval Vienna, The Renaissance Society of America Conference, Berlin 26-28 March, 2015

    A Dream of a Great Empire: Charles IV's Slavonic 'programme' reconsidered. International Medieval Congress, Leeds, 7-10 July, 2014

    Respondent at the conference Städte im lateinischen Westen und im griechischen Osten.Topographie, Recht, Religion, Vienna and Leoben, 20-23 May, 2014

    The Architecture of Ritual in Central Europe. The Art of Ritual: Object, Image & Space in Medieval & Early Modern Europe, Institute of Historical Research, London, 17th May, 2014

    Great Cities Need Ceremonies: Vienna’s Stephansplatz and the Topography of Late Medieval Piety. Medieval Visual Culture Seminar, St Catherine's College, Oxford, 6th May, 2014

    Town planning under the Luxembourg dynasty and its European context .Heilige, Helden, Wüteriche. Verflochtene Herrschaftsstile im langen Jahrhundert der Luxemburger, Heidelberg, 30 September- 2 October, 2013

    Prague under the Luxembourgs: Constructing a Central European Capital. Czech Scholars Day, Czech Embassy, London, October, 2013

    The City and Spectacle in Late Medieval Europe. UCL Interdisciplinary Medieval and Renaissance Seminar, May 2011

    Vienna's Heiltumstuhl: the sacred topography of Stehpansplatz and its context. Kunst & Geschichte, St. Stephan in Wien, International conference, Vienna, 5 - 8 June, 2011

    Architecture and Ceremony in the Piast and Jagellonian Krakow. British Archaeological Association Conference, Krakow 3-7th July, 2011

    Fit for a King: Håkonshallen and contemporary royal residences. Lecture on the occasion of 750th anniversary of Norwegian royal palace in Bergen, 9-16 September, 2011

    New Rome? Prague as the Capital of the Holy Roman Empire. Centre for Medieval Studies, Bergen, 2009

    O Happy Lance! Imperial Relics and their Display in Late Medieval Europe. Cambridge Medieval Seminar, 2009

    Passages of Space and Time in Late Medieval Prague. Kinetics of the Sacred Colloquium, Ann Arbor, 2006

    Professional memberships

    • Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries

    Honours and awards

  • Research


    Research interests

    • Late medieval art and architecture
    • Central Europe
    • Medieval cities and urbanism
    • Patronage of the courts
    • The relationship between architecture and ritual

    Research Centres and Institutes

  • Supervision and teaching

    Supervision and teaching


    Current doctoral researchers


    Doctoral alumni since 2013-14



    Zoe teaches on the following courses:

    • Art History: a Survey (BA History of Art, 1st year)
    • Materials and Processes in Art (BA History of Art, 1st year)
    • Debates in Art History (BA History of Art 1st year)
    • Architecture and Society in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance (2nd year course)
    • Gothic Cathedral (BA History of Art 3rd  year)
    • Art and the Sacred (BA History of Art 3rd year)
    • Architecture and Spectacle in Late Medieval Europe (Option module for MA History of Art and MA History of Architecture)
    • Gothic in England: Architecture, Liturgy and Identity 1170- 1360 (Option module for MA History of Art and MA Medieval Literature and Culture)
    • Frameworks: Histories and Theories of Art (MA History of Art)

    Teaching modules

    • MA Dissertation (AHVM019D7)
    • Gothic in England: Architecture, Liturgy and Identity 1170-1360 (ARVC002S7)
    • Doing Art History (ARVC206S4)
    • Research Portfolio (ARVC221S5)
    • Research Portfolio (ARVC221S5)
    • Art and Society in the Middle Ages and Renaissance (ARVC239S5)
    • Frameworks: Histories and Theories of Art, Architecture, Photography (ARVC247S7)
    • Research Exercise (ARVC282S7)
    • Research Exercise (ARVC282S7)
    • The Gothic Cathedral (ARVC300H6)
    • The Gothic Cathedral (ARVC300H6)
  • Publications




    Book Review

    Book Section

  • Business and community

    Business and community


    In Conversation with Zoë Opačić, which explored the world of medieval architecture (Sam Fogg Gallery and YouTube, October 2020)

    In this interview, Zoë Opačić, discusses her current research into how royalty, religion and relics impacted town planning and architecture, and thus changed the shape of major cities in central Europe (MECERN podcast December 2022)

    Programme on the 750 Years of Håkonshallen in Bergen (Norwegian television, September 2011)

    Object in Focus - Tracery from Canterbury Cathedral with Zoe Opacic (Sam Fogg and YouTube October 2022)

    Lecture on the Cult of Mary Magdalene in Central Europe at the British Archaeological Association (BAA and You Tube, March, 2018)

    Summer university “Urban Governance and Civic Participation in Words and Stone" taught at Budapest, Brno and Prague (YouTube July 2022)

    Lecture on Places of Greater Safety: Imperial treasuries of the Holy Roman Empire (The Society of Antiquaries and Youtube, Feb 2019) 

    Lecture on the Diamond Vaults (Architectural Association, June 2005)