Meg Bernstein - The Courtauld Institute of Art

Meg Bernstein

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Meg Bernstein

Samuel H. Kress Pre-Doctoral Institutional Fellow, 2015-2017; Associate Lecturer

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20 Jan

Thesis: Civil Service: English Parish Church Architecture, 1150-1300

Supervised by Professor Meredith Cohen (UCLA)

My thesis examines the typological changes that occur in English parish churches over the course of the thirteenth century, particularly in the spaces associated with the laity. In particular, I aim to counter the assumption that parish church architecture in this period derives dominantly from friary churches, and argue instead for a change in architectural typology driven by social and economic factors, as well as from civic architecture and competition. Additionally, I will engage with scholarly dialogues that position parish church architecture in this period along the hall church type as well as their relationship with the so-called “great church,” arguing for a separate morphology of the parish church stemming from civic and vernacular architecture.

Alongside my thesis project, I am constructing, with software developer Zeina Dajani, a parish church database, which I hope will enable more systematic study of parish church architecture. This database, still at the beginning stages, will allow for other researchers to submit (with credit) their data. The goal of this project is to enhance scholars’ abilities to compare buildings throughout the country, and critically engage with the data, identifying both secured and conjectural dating and their sources. Given the enormous size of the data set, this project will be ongoing past my 2018 thesis submission.


  • AB Smith College 2008 (History of Art & English)
  • MA University of Massachusetts, Amherst 2011 (Art History)
  • MAR Yale Divinity School/Institute of Sacred Music, 2013 (Religion & Visual Art)
  • PhD University of California, Los Angeles (Art History) – in progress


  • Associate Lecturer, The Courtauld Institute of Art
    BA1: Westminster Abbey (S2017)
  • Teaching Fellow, UCLA (2015-present)
    The Art of Death in the Middle Ages (self-designed lecture course, summer 2016)
    Paris Past and Present (TA for four-week study abroad program in Paris, includes introduction to Medieval Art, Medieval Paris, and Gothic Art and Architecture, summers 2015/16)
  • Teaching Associate, UCLA (2014-15)
    Medieval Art (F2014)
    Renaissance and Baroque Art and Thought in Europe and the Americas (W2015)
    Indian Art (S2015)
  • Teaching Assistant, UMass (2010-11)
    Modern Art
    Junior Year Writing for Art History
    Twentieth Century Architecture (reader)
  • Teaching Assistant, University of Kansas (2008-9)
    Intro to Western Art I
    Intro to Western Art II

Research interests

  • English gothic architecture
  • Norman architecture
  • parish churches
  • mendicant architecture
  • historiography
  • urbanism

Conference papers

  • 2017. “Show some decorum: elevation and the ‘parish church mode,'” Towards an Art History of the Parish Church, 1200-1399, The Courtauld Institute of Art, UK
  • 2017. “Power, Display, and Agency in the Thirteenth-Century English Parish Church,” Medieval Settlement Research Group Spring Conference, University of Newcastle, UK
  • 2017. “The British Aisles: Lateral Expansion in English Parish Churches, 1150-1250,” Ecclesiastical History Society Postgraduate Colloquium, Magdalene College, University of Cambridge, UK
  • 2016.“Diagnosing Jean Bony’s ‘Friar-Parish-Church Syndrome,’” Art History Works in Progress Seminar, University of Cambridge, UK
  • 2015. “A Stone’s Throw: Durham’s Late Eleventh-Century Building Projects,” International Congress on Medieval Studies, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI
  • 2014. “Localizing Sanctity: Paris, Louis IX’s Sainte-Chapelle, and The Reliquary of Saints Maxian, Lucian, and Julian,” International Congress on Medieval Studies, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI
  • 2013. “The Development of Blackfriars Architecture in England,” Southeastern College Art Conference, University of North Carolina, Greensboro
  • “Le Corbusier’s Chapelle de Notre-Dame-du-Haut and The Philips Pavilion: Musical Intersections in Post Modern Aesthetic,” Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT (presented with Scott Mello)
  • 2012. “Spinning Chartres: Interpreting Images of Textile Labor on the Transept Sculpture of Chartres Cathedral,” Vagantes Medieval Graduate Student Conference, Indiana University, Bloomington

Recent publications

  • Review of Arts of the Medieval Cathedrals: Studies on Architecture, Stained Glass, and Sculpture in Honor of Anne Prache (Nolan and Sandon, Eds.) in Hortulus: The Online Graduate Journal of Medieval Studies, in volume 12, number 2, 2016.
  • Reviews in Comitatus: A Journal of Medieval and Renaissance StudiesUrban Bodies: Communical Health in Late Medieval English Towns and Cities, Carole Rawcliffe (The Boydell Press 2013) in volume 46, 2015.
    The Medieval Salento: Art and Identity in Southern Italy, Linda Safran (University of Pennsylvania Press 2014) in volume 46, 2015.
    The Ancestors of Christ Windows at Canterbury Cathedral, Jeffrey Weaver and Madeline H. Caviness (Getty Publications 2013) in volume 45, 2014.

Fellowships and honours

  • 2015 Dissertation travel award, Department of Art History, UCLA
  • 2015 Patricia McCarron McGinn Memorial Award, Department of Art History, UCLA
  • 2015 Conference Scholarship (full), British Archaeological Association, Peterborough
  • 2014 Conference Scholarship (full), British Archaeological Association, Aberdeen
  • 2013-2015 Graduate Dean’s Scholar Award, Graduate Division, UCLA
  • 2013 Edwin Stanley Seder Prize, Yale Institute of Sacred Music
  • 2012-2013 Dominique de Menil Scholar for the Visual Arts, Yale Institute of Sacred Music
  • 2011-2013 Merit Scholarship, Yale Institute of Sacred Music

Other academic activity

  • 2017. Co-convenor (with Dr James Alexander Cameron) of Towards an Art History of the Parish Church, 1200-1399, two-day conference at The Courtauld Institute of Art sponsored by the Sackler Research Forum and the Paul Mellon Centre
  • 2017. Tour guide, Courtauld Friends visit to Westminster Abbey
  • 2017. Co-convenor (with Imogen Tedbury) of Medieval Collaborations, The Courtauld Institute of Art’s 22nd Annual Medieval Postgraduate Colloquium
  • 2016. Co-organiser (with Dr Fern Insh) of CAD for Architectural History workshop, Digital Art History Research Group (#DAHRG), The Courtauld Institute of Art
  • 2015-2018. Board Member, Graduate Student Committee, International Center for Medieval Art (ICMA)
  • 2015. Contributor, Medieval Art Research Blog
  • 2015. Graduate Student Liaison, Renaissance/Early Modern Faculty Search, Department of Art History, UCLA
  • 2014-2015. Editorial Board, Comitatus: A Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, UCLA
  • 2014-15. Graduate Research Assistant/3D Modeler, Paris Past and Present, UCLA Art History & Center for Digital Humanities
  • 2014. Co-Chair, (Re)mediation, UCLA 49th Annual Art History Graduate Student Association Symposium
  • Member of: Association Villard de Honnecourt for the Interdisciplinary Study of Technology, Science, and Art; British Archaeological Association; College Art Association; International Center of Medieval Art

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