James Alexander Cameron - The Courtauld Institute of Art

James Alexander Cameron

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Dr James Alexander Cameron

Associate Lecturer; Research Forum Administrative Assistant (communications) Tuesday - Thursday

Thesis: ‘Sedilia in Medieval England’ – submitted December 2014, successfully examined February 2015

Supervised by Prof. Joanna Cannon and Prof. David Park

My thesis was on sedilia, the seats for the priest, deacon and subdeacon. In English churches, sedilia frequently take the form of three stone niches built into the south wall by an altar, surmounted by arches and separated by shafts. A full survey of the corpus of sedilia in England and Wales (c.1,300 objects) has allowed me to give a narrative of their origins, spread, and development as a site of display. This database was constructed by crowd-sourcing images from the Internet, some sent to me. If you would like to help complete the database, see here for a list of missing sedilia (along with some I have poor images of).

The thesis is available in its entirety on Academia.edu.

My future research will consider the larger questions raised by my thesis by looking at the English chancel as a genre, and how initial choices in form became essential attributes of a national style.


  • Courtauld Institute of Art: 10/2011 – 2015: PhD in the History of Art
    “Sedilia in English Churches”: Supervised by Prof. David Park and Dr Joanna Cannon.
  • Courtauld Institute of Art: 10/2010 – 06/2011: MA in the History of Art
    Course: “Artists and Friars: The Renewal of Painting in Italy in the 13th and 14th centuries” (Dr Joanna Cannon) (Distinction)
    Dissertation: The Harington Tomb in Cartmel Priory: Making, agency and audience (Distinction)
  • University of Manchester: 09/2006 – 06/2009: BA Art History and Visual Studies (First Class)
    Dissertation: “The Fourteenth Century Choir Stalls of Lancaster Priory”
    Awards: Roger Jones Memorial Prize for Academic Excellence 2007/8 – £200 prize.
    Outstanding Academic Achievement Award 2008/9 – Awarded to top 30 performing graduands of the University. £1000 prize.


  • Summer 2017, An introduction to English church architecture, Morley College.
  • Autumn 2016 – Spring 2017: Teaching assistant, BA2 Frameworks, The Courtauld Institute of Art.
  • Autumn 2016, Associate lecturer, BA1 course on Westminster Abbey, The Courtauld Institute of Art.
  • Autumn 2015, MA methodology teaching assistant (two groups of MA students), The Courtauld Institute of Art.
  • Four lunchtime talks in the Courtauld Gallery, 2013-4.
  • Summer school tour in the Courtauld Gallery, 2014.
  • Led and organised visits to Temple Church; and Charterhouse/St Bartholomew the Great, autumn 2013.
  • Led and co-organised UAE Church Crawl to Temple, St Bartholomew the Great, St Helen’s Bishopgate and Holy Trinity Priory Aldgate, summer 2014.

Research interests

  • Gothic Architecture
  • Medieval Art
  • Church architecture and ecclesiology
  • Liturgy
  • Parish churches
  • Style and the development of genre


Conference papers

  • “Microarchitectural reflexivity in the design of sedilia and choir stalls”, Misericordia International biennial conference: Choir stalls and their workshops, Griefswald, 23-26 June 2016.
  • “Crossing the threshold: The layperson’s experience in the parish church chancel”, Pilgrimage: Location and Imagination – Cambridgeshire Historic Churches Trust annual conference, Wolfson College, Cambridge, 16th April 2016.
  • Modes of modo et forma in the fourteenth-century English Parish Church“, A day seminar in celebration of the work of Dr Richard K. Morris, The Courtauld Institute of Art (organised by the British Archaeological Association), 20th February 2016.
  • “Architecture & Ritual: the English Parish Church Chancel” Morley Medieval Society, Morley College, Lambeth, 20 November 2015.
  • “Sedila in English churches: the consolidation of a genre” Society of Architectural Historians annual graduate student conference, Edinburgh, 11 April 2015.
  • Sedilia in English churches: the invention of a genre through function and formMicroarchitecture and Miniaturized Representations of Buildings: Different Scales for Different Materials? Paris, Institut national d’histoire de l’art, 8-10 December 2014.
  • “The Englishness of English Sedilia” Invention and Imagination in British Art, 600 – 1500 British Museum/Paul Mellon Institute, 1st November 2014.
  • “Real Priests sit on stone: Witnessing sedilia in England’s churches” Material Witness Valedictorial Event, 8th July 2014.
  • “Competing for dextra cornu magnum altaris: funerary monuments and liturgical seating in English churches” Fifty Years after Panofsky’s Tomb Sculpture: New Approaches, New Material. Courtauld Institute of Art, 22 June 2014.
  • “Sedilia in English Churches: The development of an idea” History of Art Lecture series, Warburg Institute. 9th June 2014.
  • “Bums on seats: Between material and documentary evidence in the study of parish church sedilia” “Flaws” London Medieval Graduate Network conference 2014, UCL, 29th May 2014.
  • “Sedilia in English Churches” Lunchtime Research Seminar, Mellon Centre for British Art, London. 21st Feb 2014.
  • “The Judgement on the Harington Tomb at Cartmel Priory” – 18th Annual Medieval Postgraduate Student Colloquium, Courtauld Institute of Art, 2nd Feb 2013.
  • “The Eleanor Crosses: Heralding a new style” – London Cultural Connections King’s College London, 16th Oct 2012. Awarded first prize: £100

Other academic activity

  • Council member and co-Honorary Study Days Organiser, British Archaeological Association.
  • Member of Courtauld Postgraduate Advisory Group (PAG), 2012-15.
  • Editor of Courtauld Critics of exhibition reviews on the Research Forum blog, 2012-5.
  • Founding designer of MedievalArtResearch.com
  • Regular blogger on the Research Forum’s Research Rhythms, 2012-5.
  • A column on London churches in every issue from the first two years the Courtauld’s student newspaper The Courtauldian.
  • Organiser of December 2013 round-table seminar of the London Medieval Graduate Network at Somerset House.
  • Becoming a Public Intellectual, Open University programme, CHASE initiative, 2013/4. Participant.
  • Material Witness, University of Kent programme, CHASE initiative 2013/4, 2014/5. Participant

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