Dr Emma Merkling

Associate Lecturer and Postdoctoral Fellow

I specialise in interdisciplinary research on late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century art, science, and the occult in Britain and the US.

My PhD thesis focused on the spiritualist art and automatic writings of English artist Evelyn De Morgan (1855–1919) in relation to late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century physics, mathematics, psychology, philosophy of science, statistics, and psychical research.

Currently, I am working on an INSBS-funded grant project exploring the scientific investigation of the medium Mina ‘Margery’ Crandon (c. 1925) in relation to stereoscopic photography, history of medicine, and observation and validation practices. I am also working on a book project, The Victorian Idyll in Art and Literature: Ecology, Matter, Form (Routledge, forthcoming), with Dr Thomas Hughes. Centring ecological and queer readings, this collection of essays rethinks the ‘idyllic’ by establishing the nature, lineaments, and significance of the idyll as a formal mode in nineteenth-century British culture.

I co-host Drawing Blood, a podcast about visual culture, the history of science and medicine, and the macabre.


Education

  • PhD History of Art, The Courtauld Institute of Art (2017 – 2021): ‘Imponderable: Physics, Mathematics, Psychical Research, and Evelyn De Morgan’s Spiritualist Art, 1885–1910’, supervised by Professor Caroline Arscott and examined by Professor Sally Shuttleworth and Dr Suzannah Biernoff
  • MA History of Art, The Courtauld Institute of Art (2017): ‘The Sensate Body: Consciousness in Albert Moore’s Art’
  • BA Art History and Archaeology, Columbia College, Columbia University (2015)

Postdoctoral and Doctoral Fellowships

Teaching

  • 2021 – 2022: Associate Lecturer, Body Politics: Art, Gender and Class in the Victorian Metropolis (BA3), The Courtauld Institute of Art
  • 2020: Teaching Assistant, Summer University: ‘Art and Identity’ (pre-BA, non-selective state schools), The Courtauld Institute of Art
  • 2019 – 2020: Teaching Assistant, Core Methodologies (MA), The Courtauld Institute of Art
  • 2019 – 2020: Guest Lecturer, Victorian Science and Aesthetic Movement Art (MA), The Courtauld Institute of Art
  • 2017 – 2018: Guest Lecturer, Victorian Science and Aesthetic Movement Art (MA), The Courtauld Institute of Art

Grants and Awards

  • Seed Funding Research Grant for the project ‘Biomedicine and Belief: Spiritualism, Observation, and Margery Crandon’s Extraordinary Body c. 1920–35′, International Research Network for the Study of Science and Belief in Society (2022–23)
  • Oppenheimer Memorial Trust Grant for International Study (2017–2020)
  • Lord Jacob Rothschild Scholarship, The Courtauld Institute of Art (2018–2020)
  • Research Support Grant for project ‘Evelyn De Morgan in Florence, 1895–1914,’ Paul Mellon Centre (2019)
  • Friends of The Courtauld Institute of Art Scholarship, The Courtauld Institute of Art (2017–2018)
  • Paule Vézelay Award for Best Dissertation in Modern and Contemporary Art, The Courtauld Institute of Art (2017)
  • Edmond J. Safra Scholarship, The Courtauld Institute of Art (2016–2018)
  • Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society, Columbia University (2015)

Publications

Books

  • Thomas Hughes and Emma Merkling (eds), The Victorian Idyll in Art and Literature: Ecology, Matter, Form (Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge), forthcoming.

Chapters

  • Emma Merkling, ‘Photographic Idyll: Temporality, Queer Subjects, and an Ecological Erotics in Julia Margaret Cameron’s Maud‘, in The Victorian Idyll in Art and Literature: Ecology, Matter, Form, ed. by Thomas Hughes and Emma Merkling (Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge), forthcoming 2023.
  • Emma Merkling, ‘“Symbols Bewitched”: Evelyn De Morgan’s Symbolic Logic’, in Evelyn and William De Morgan: A Marriage of Arts and Crafts, ed. by Margaretta S. Frederick (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2022), pp. 129–39.

Articles and reviews

Online Essays and Other Media

Conference Papers and Invited Lectures

  • ‘Science in the Séance Room: Stereographs, Medical Men, and the Testing of “Margery” Crandon’s Extraordinary Body, c. 1925’, with the Gender and Sexuality Research Group (The Courtauld Institute of Art), 14 November 2022 (forthcoming; book here)
  • ‘Spirits and the Material World: Spiritualism, Technology, and the Testing of Physical Mediums 1870–1940’, The Science of Things Spiritual: A Symposium (Lily Dale Assembly), 2022
  • ‘Science, Séance, Stereoscopy: The Extraordinary Archives of “Margery” Crandon’, American Archives in British Archives Conference at the Centre for American Art (The Courtauld Institute of Art), 2022
  • ‘The Occult History of the X-Ray’, Science Museum Lates, 2021
  • ‘Ghost-Written: Art, Spirit Transcripts, and the Limits of Embodiment c. 1900’, Art Writing and the Body (Goldsmiths, University of London), 2021
  • ‘Self as Boundless Surface: Ether and Alternative Geometries in Evelyn De Morgan’s Portrait of her Husband (1909)’, New Directions in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Art (Digital Seminar Series), 2020
  • ‘Bodily Rhythms, Albert Moore’s Beads (1875), and Victorian Physiology’, The British Association of Victorian Studies Annual Conference (University of Dundee), 2019
  • ‘Formal Logic and the Real in Evelyn De Morgan’s Art and Spirit Writings’, Science and Spiritualism, 1750-1930 (Leeds Trinity University), 2019
  • ‘Formal Logic and the Real in Evelyn De Morgan’s Art and Spirit Writings’, Evelyn De Morgan Centenary Symposium: Feminist, Spiritualist, Pacifist Radical (Guildhall Art Gallery), 2019
  • ‘Energy and Exhaustion: Entropy in the Work of Tennyson, Evelyn De Morgan, and H. G. Wells’, with Dr Melissa Dickson (Birmingham), Shows of London (King’s College London), 2018
  • ‘The Idyllic in Julia Margaret Cameron’s Maud (1875)’, Midsummer Idyll Symposium (The Courtauld Institute of Art), 2018
  • ‘Entropy, Eternity, and the “Heat Death” of the Universe in Evelyn De Morgan’s Mermaid Paintings’, The British Association of Victorian Studies Annual Conference (University of Exeter), 2018
  • ‘Energy Physics and Water in Evelyn De Morgan’s Mermaid Paintings’, The London Nineteenth Century Studies Graduate Conference (University of London), 2018
  • ‘Bodily Rhythms, Albert Moore’s Beads (1875), and Victorian Physiology’, Rethinking Albert Moore Conference (University of York), 2017

Professional Experience

Research Interests

  • Nineteenth-century art
  • Spiritualist art
  • Nineteenth-century history of science and alternative science
  • History of physics, mathematics, psychical research, physiological psychology, medicine, philosophy of science, ecology
  • Symbolism
  • Fin-de-siècle painting
  • History and theory of photography
  • Women artists
  • Spiritualism and occult history
  • History of magic

Citations