Global Surrealism: Tracing International Networks - AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award - The Courtauld Institute of Art

Global Surrealism: Tracing International Networks – AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award

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Global Surrealism: Tracing International Networks – AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award

Global Surrealism: Tracing International Networks – AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award

Ibaye 1950 Wifredo Lam 1902-1982 Purchased 1952

A collaboration between Courtauld Institute of Art and Tate providing a fully funded AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnership Award starting September 2017.

Principal supervisor: Dr. Gavin Parkinson (The Courtauld Institute of Art); second supervisor: Dr Matthew Gale (Tate)

For enquiries, please contact Dr Gavin Parkinson at

The Courtauld Institute of Art and Tate

AHRC COLLABORATIVE Doctoral Award commencing October 2017

Research Project: Global Surrealism: Tracing International Networks

Principal supervisor: Dr. Gavin Parkinson (The Courtauld Institute of Art); second supervisor: Dr Matthew Gale (Tate)

The Courtauld Institute of Art and Tate invite applications for a full-time collaborative PhD studentship, funded for 3.5 years by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, to commence in October 2017.

The proposed doctoral research will examine the complex international networks and modes of transmission that shaped the growth of surrealism in many parts of the world from the 1920s to the 1960s. Looking in depth at areas beyond France, Britain and America, the doctorate will re-evaluate the reach, transmission and hybridisation of the surrealist movement when studied through its international connections, drawing on the theories and studies of postcolonialism, orientialism and globalism. The doctorate will also contribute to the planning of a major exhibition on this subject at Tate Modern, scheduled for 2020.

In recent years surrealism has been seen as multi-centered but studies of the wider geographies of the movement have tended to maintain and reinforce the centrality of Paris. This doctoral project will aim to test this notion, examining the transnational interconnections that linked groups and individuals and rethinking conventional understandings of the international character of surrealism. Original research into the movement’s longevity and persistence in the later 1930s and into the 1960s, which was sustained in large measure through international exhibitions, periodicals and personal communications, will help create more complex understandings of the notion of a ‘global’ surrealism and in so doing may lead to a fresh understanding of the movement’s impact and influence.

Many approaches are possible but in general terms the student will be expected to investigate:
•      issues arising from the geographical de-centering of surrealism through an investigation of the role of key participants and fellow-travellers.
•      the differences and shared concerns of the positions taken by individuals, groups or networks in one centre in relation to those in others, so as to identify local as well as shared characteristics.
•      how far the exigencies of cultural and political specificity were reflected in the ways in which surrealism was understood and manifested.
•      to what extent and in what ways was surrealism seen as vital and relevant outside of Europe and North America, particularly in the post-war period.
In exploring these themes, the student will elucidate fresh cultural constellations and reposition neglected artists and groupings through detailed archival study and close study of individual artworks.
In addition, the student will engage with tasks at Tate that will furnish him or her with the sorts of experience and practical skills that could subsequently be taken into the workplace, especially in the museum and heritage sector, and would also benefit the gallery and the wider research community. These include:
•       working with Tate curators in new research towards a major exhibition of ‘Global Surrealism’ (title to be confirmed).
•       preparing c.30 summary online texts on surrealist works in Tate’s expanding international collection that relate to the areas of research.
•       selecting archival material and preparing texts in preparation for the exhibition or for publication on Tate’s website as part of Tate’s scholarly activities.

Entry criteria

We invite applications from candidates with a strong academic background in modern art associated with surrealism, archival skills and a clear and engaging research proposal that can be developed through the available research supervision. The candidate must have an excellent command of English, both spoken and written, and it would be advantageous to have a good knowledge of one or more other languages. The candidate should show evidence of an ability to write about artworks for a specialist and for non-specialist audiences in an engaging and accessible way. Successful applicants are expected to have a good first degree (at least 2.1, or international equivalent) in a relevant field of humanities, and have obtained, or are currently working towards a Masters degree at Merit or Distinction level or international equivalent.

The award is subject to the AHRC’s terms, to which applicants should refer before applying (see the Research Funding Guide The studentship is funded through the AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnership programme, and includes tuition fees up to the standard Home/EU amount and an annual maintenance grant. Note that overseas students are not eligible for AHRC awards (except under specific circumstances) and EU students need to assess whether they are eligible for fees and maintenance or fees only. Details of current maintenance and fee rates can be found on the ‘Current Research Awards’ page on the AHRC website ( The AHRC doctoral award does not include funds for travel but please note that the student will be able to apply for external grants that would help to enable travel in the region.

The successful student will join a large cohort of Collaborative Doctoral Partnership award students at Tate, as well as the thriving postgraduate community at The Courtauld Institute of Art. For more information about doctoral students at Tate see

You should also contact the Courtauld’s Admissions Team at


How to Apply

Applications should be made by email to at The Courtauld Institute of Art and should include the following documents as electronic attachments:

•       a covering letter, stating why you are applying for this particular collaborative opportunity and why you think your academic interests qualify you for this award.
•       a research proposal of c.1,000 words in length.
•       a curriculum vitae.
•       a transcript of your qualifications to date (and anticipated results if still studying for an MA).
•        if relevant, proof of English language proficiency
•       a writing sample (e.g. MA essay or dissertation; images may be omitted if the document is too large otherwise to send by email).
•       contact details for two referees.
Please ensure the files are labeled as follows: ‘surname, first name, application component (e.g. writing sample / CV).

Closing date:  27 April 2017
Interview date: 11 May 2107, at Tate Modern

Courtauld Course Lecturer

Gavin Parkinson

Gavin Parkinson was a BA student in Manchester,  then completed his MA at The Courtauld in 1997,  followed by a PhD in 2000. After lecturing at Birkbeck College and the University of Oxford he joined The Courtauld teaching staff as a Lecturer in 2008 and became a Senior Lecturer in 2014.

Gavin’s teaching and writing are concerned with European art and visual culture of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries with a special interest in French Surrealism. His books are: Futures of Surrealism: Myth, Science Fiction and Fantastic Art in France 1936-69 (Yale University Press, 2015); Surrealism, Art and Modern Science: Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, Epistemology (Yale University Press, 2008); and The Duchamp Book (Tate Publishing, 2008). He  is  just completing a book on the Surrealist reception of late nineteenth century art, entitled Enchanted Ground: Surrealist Appraisals of Fin de Siècle Painting.

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