Professor Alixe Bovey, FSA FRHistS

Dean and Deputy Director; Head of Research

I am The Courtauld’s Dean and Deputy Director and a member of the History of Art department.
As Dean and Deputy Director, I belong to The Courtauld’s senior management team, and lead the academic strategy and the departments that make up our Academic Directorate, including History of Art, Conservation, Student and Academic Services, Library Services, Research, and Public Programmes. 
I am a specialist in the art and culture of the Middle Ages, with active interests in illuminated manuscripts, visual storytelling, and the relationship between myth and material culture across historical periods and geographical boundaries. I teach The Courtauld’s MA History of Art special option The Supernatural Middle Ages: Images of the Extraordinary
My current research project explores the mythic history of Britain, focusing especially on the material legacy of the indigenous race of giants who were (according to Geoffrey of Monmouth’s mid-12th century history) exterminated by the refugees from the Trojan war who founded the British nation. This project focuses especially on their material presence in the pageantry, legends, and identity of the City of London, and considers why and how they were made, and reimagined, over hundreds of years.
The relationship between humanities disciplines, material objects, and creative practice is a central theme in my work. In 2013, with funding from the AHRC, I founded Material Witness, a training programme for humanities research students in the CHASE doctoral training consortium. Then based at the University of Kent and now at The Courtauld, this programme is supported directly by CHASE, and brings together students from across this consortium of universities to develop critical and practical skills that enable the sophisticated interpretation of material artefacts. (Read the blog for the 2018/19 season.) 
I am also keenly interested in the interface between art history and practice, especially the ways that historical understanding can be enhanced by creative experience. This has inspired a diverse programme of activities under the #CourtauldDraw umbrella, including regular life drawing classes, collaborative drawing events, practical workshops, artist talks and research events in the Research Forum programme.
After an undergraduate degree in History and Medieval Studies at the University of Victoria in Canada (1995), I came to The Courtauld Institute of Art for an MA (1996) and PhD (2000). I spent four years as a curator of manuscripts at the British Library (2000-2004) before moving to the School of History and the Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies at the University of Kent (2004-2014). I joined The Courtauld as Head of Research in 2015 and have been Dean and Deputy Director since 2020.
I am a trustee of the Association for Art History, and a member of Canterbury Cathedral’s Fabric Advisory Committee, and the Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England


PhD supervision

Current

  • Laura Feigen, ‘Migrations from the Margin: Hebrew Manuscripts & Jewish Expulsion 1290-1500’
  • Teresa Lane, ‘“A sublime mystery”: the Trinity in the Visual, Intellectual and Devotional Culture of England, 950–1150’
  • Laura Melin, ‘The Art of Persuasion: Usurpation and Legitimisation in Fifteenth-Century Genealogical Rolls’

    Recently completed

  • Maggie Crosland, ‘Considering Utility and Adaptation in the Grandes Heures of Philip the Bold’, supervised with Prof. Susie Nash (2020)
  • Sophie Kelly, ‘Imagining the Unimaginable: The iconography of the Trinity in English Medieval Art, c. 1200-1350’, CHASE funded, supervised with Dr Emily Guerry (University of Kent, 2018)
  • Naomi Speakman, ‘Gothic Ivory Carvings of the British Museum: Interpretations, Forgeries and Collectors’, AHRC funded (CDA scheme), supervised with Prof. John Lowden and Dr Dora Thornton (The Courtauld Institute of Art, 2019)

Research interests

  • Medieval Art, with a focus on northern Europe, c. 1100-1500
  • The interplay between myth and material culture
  • Illuminated manuscripts
  • Pictorial narrative and word-image relations
  • The role of the visual arts in public ritual and private devotion
> Alixe’s Research Activity

Citations