Julia Secklehner - The Courtauld Institute of Art

Julia Secklehner

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Julia Secklehner

PhD student

Thesis: Frontiers of Identity: The Vienna and Prague Satirical Press in Political Crossfire 1918-1938

Supervised by Klara Kemp-Welch

Funded by a CHASE/AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership, 2015-17.

My research focuses on the ways the satirical press reflected national and ideological frictions at a time and place where socio-political pressures ran exceptionally high: interwar Austria and Czechoslovakia. The two republics, closely connected during the Habsburg reign, were marked by an array of conflicts relating to their new make-up as independent states. Austria, transformed from a multi-national empire into a small, largely homogenous country, was marked by conflicts along political lines, while Czechoslovakia inherited the multi-ethnic character of Austria-Hungary, which led to an intensification of national tensions. In the satirical press, these issues can be explored particularly well, considering is their double function as a form of entertainment and an ideological weapon, which, as we have seen so recently, also contains the power to incite violence. 

An assessment of the satirical landscape of the time shows how increasingly polarised national and political factions were played out in the visual culture of the day and gives due to the development of a specific visual language from an art historical perspective. Some of the research questions I aim to answer are: How did satirical magazines and their readership change between 1918 and 1939? Which kinds of identities were manifested? How were they influenced by socio-political changes and the formation of the two new states? To what extent was the passage towards the far right and extreme left evident, and how did popular visual culture mediate between these political formations and artistic developments?


  • PhD Art History – The Courtauld Institute of Art 2014 – present
  • MPhil (Research) in CzechStudies – The University of Glasgow 2013 – 2017. Thesis: ‘Hybridity, Communism and the Avant-Garde: Irena Blühová and Tina Modotti’. Funded by a Josef Fronek Scholarship Award 2013-2014. Supervised by Dr Jan Čulík and Dr Nathanial Gardner.
  • MA (Hons) Art History and Czech – The University of Glasgow 2009-2013 (First Class Honours)
  • BA(Hons) English Literature – The Open University 2007-2012


  • Teaching Assistant, BA 2 Frameworks for Interpretation, The Courtauld Institute, 2016-17

Research interests

  • Modern and contemporary Central European art and culture

  • European avant-gardes and their networks

  • Nationalism and post-colonialism in the European context

  • Gender Studies

  • Magazine/Media cultures

  • Caricature, drawn satire, and comics


  • Association of Art Historians (AAH)

  • Society of Historians of East European, Eurasian, and Russian Art and Architecture (SHERA)

  • Historians of German, Scandinavian and Central European Art (HGSCEA)

  • British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies (BASE)

  • College Art Association (CAA)

Other academic activity

  • Co-organiser and -curator, Comics Crossroads events series and exhibition (CHASE-funded), University of Kent & The Courtauld Institute of Art, May – October 2016
  • Student Advisory Group, CHASE, 2016-17
  • Research Assistant, Networking the Bloc book project, The Courtauld Institute of Art, London, September 2016
  • Organiser, Second Year Modern & Contemporary PhD Symposium, The Courtauld Institute of Art, 19-20 May 2016
  • Research Assistant, special option MA course, ‘Central European Art and Culture 1918-1956: A Minor Modernism?’ funded by the Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust, April-September 2015
  • Gallery Tutor, The Courtauld Institute Summer School, August 2015
  • Lunchtime Gallery Talks, The Courtauld Gallery, October 2014 and December 2015
  • Organiser, East/Central European Postgraduate Reading Group, The Courtauld Institute of Art, 2015-2016



Conference papers and lectures

  • ‘Radical Pop Culture? Trn and the young Czechoslovak Left of the 1920s’, College Art Association Conference, 15-18 February 2017, New York
  • ‘Viragoes and Feeble Men? Gender stereotypes and the nation in the Austrian satirical press, 1920-1925’ 48th Annual Convention of the ASEEES, 17-20 November 2016, Washington DC
  • ‘Anti-Semitism and the Habsburg Legacy: Austrian Caricature in Crisis’, University of Glasgow Postgraduate Conference ‘Difference: Fear, Fascination, Foreignness’, 24-25 May 2016, Glasgow
  • ‘Fashioning a paper avant-garde: Trn and the politics of modern life’ Modern and Contemporary Second Year PhD Symposium, the Courtauld Institute of Art, 20 May 2016, London
  • Panelist, ‘CENTRAL&CONTEMPORARY – Hungarian Art without Boundaries’, ICA London, 14 May 2016
  • ‘Feeble Austrians, modern Czechs? Notions of ‘the self’ and ‘the other’ in Austrian and Czech satirical magazines, 1918-1925’, CHASE Encounters Conference, 20 November 2015, The Open University, Milton Keynes
  • ‘Frontiers of Identity: Austrian and Czechoslovak Caricature between Tradition and Modernity 1918/1919’, Int. Forum for Doctoral Candidates in East European Art History, 30 April 2015, Humboldt University, Berlin
  • ‘Capturing the Ordinary: Irena Blühová and Photographic Modernism in Slovakia 1925-1936’ The Third Forum of Critical Studies: Asking Big Questions Again, 6-7 February 2015, Florence, Italy



  • Gender(ed) Revolution? Masculinities and Femininities in Irena Blühová’s work’ immediations, the Courtauld Institute of Art Journal of Postgraduate Research, vol.3, no.4 (2015) 
  • Forthcoming in 2018: ‘A Communist Self? Interrogating (self-)portraits in Irena Blühová’s Bauhaus photographs’ in Elizabeth Otto and Patrick Rössler eds. Bauhaus Bodies


Editorial work


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