Dr Shijia Yu

Associate Lecturer

Shijia Yu specialises in nineteenth-century British popular visual culture, especially the interaction between optical entertainments and print culture. Her doctoral thesis examines the origin and evolution of the English paper peepshow between the 1820s and 1850s. Shijia is also interested in using methods of (experimental) media archaeology and material culture in examining nineteenth-century visual entertainments and print novelties, and she has organised workshops on making the paper peepshow and the phenakistoscope to explore this aspect.  Shijia is currently an Associate Research Fellow at Birkbeck, University of London, based in the Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies. She also sits on the committee of the London Nineteenth-Century Studies Seminar Graduate Strand, where she organises research and professional development events with other committee members.


PhD, History of Art, Birkbeck, University of London
MA, History of Art, University College London
BA, English Studies and History of Art, University of Hong Kong


2022-23Associate Lecturer, Printmaking in an Age of Revolution (BA2), The Courtauld Institute of Art
2021-22, Associate Lecturer, Possibilities of Portraiture (BA1), The Courtauld Institute of Art

Publication list

Journal articles

‘An Amusing Optical Toy for the Hands?: Reassessing Nineteenth-Century British Paper Peepshows through Embodied Knowledge.’ (under review)

Book chapters

‘Exclusivity in Print Meaning-Making of Watering Resorts through Nineteenth-Century English Paper Peepshows.’ (under review)

‘Paper Monument: The Paradoxical Space in the English Thames Tunnel Paper Peepshow, 1825-1843.’ In The Home, Nations and Empire, and Ephemeral Exhibition Spaces: 1750-1918, eds. D. Bauer and C. Murgia, 241-270, Amsterdam University Press


Review of Playful Visions: Optical Toys and the Emergence of Children’s Media Culture (Meredith A. Bak, 2020). Media History 27, no. 3 (2021): 405-407.


Public scholarship

‘An Insight into Handmade Paper Peepshows.’ Victoria and Albert Museum Blog

‘The Terror, the Terror.’ University College Art Museum Blog

‘Art of Social Justice.’ Catalogue of the Journey to Justice online exhibition

‘Stairway to Heaven.’ Interact Magazine (p25-26)

Selected talks and conference talks

Exposing the Medium: Paper Peepshow and the Undermining of Contemporaneity in the 1850s.’ British Association of Victorian Studies Annual Conference (University of Birmingham), 2022
Victorian Sampling Podcast, Episode 5: Media and Making, Crafting Communities, 2022
A Visual Recreation for Hands: Homemade Paper Peepshows and the Role of the Haptic in Nineteenth-Century British Print Culture.’ Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art Research Lunch Series (Paul Mellon Centre, London), 2021
‘A sense of exclusiveness in print: meaning-making of watering resorts through nineteenth-century paper Peepshows.’ A Visitor Attraction: Printing for Tourists Conference (The Centre for Printing History and Culture), 2021
More than Just Looking: The Active Consumption of Theatrical Spectacles in the Nineteenth-Century English Paper Peepshow.’ Visuality and the Theatre in the Long 19th Century Conference (University of Warwick), 2019
Paper Monument: The Thames Tunnel Paper Peepshow and the Questioning of Industrial Structures in the Nineteenth Century.’ Ephemeral Exhibition Spaces Conference (University of Geneva), 2018

Research Interest

  • Nineteenth-century European popular visual culture
  • Optical toys
  • Print culture
  • Multi-sensory experience in visual culture
  • Media history and (Experimental) Media Archaeology
  • Intermediality
  • Nineteenth-century visual media in twenty-first-century museums