Tilly Scantlebury - The Courtauld Institute of Art

Tilly Scantlebury

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Tilly Scantlebury

PhD student

A Queer Rethinking: Community and Exclusion in American Art since 1990

Supervised by Dr Jo Applin
Funded by AHRC / CHASE 

This thesis draws on a series of artistic case studies of communities, families, domestic spaces and mothers, in order to provide a queer rethinking of the structures they inhabit. A set of key research questions guide my investigation: how do queer communities function as families? What does an alternative domestic space look like? In what ways are the desires of the maternal subject perverse? What can a queer future look like?

Chapter 1 considers three photographic portrait series by American photographer Catherine Opie: Being and Having (1991), Domestic, (1998) and Self-Portrait Series (1993 – 2003). 

Chapter 2 focuses on A.K. Summers’ graphic novel Pregnant Butch (2014), charting the ways the ‘butch’ body is culturally at odds with the ‘femme’ experience of pregnancy. 


  • PhD The Courtauld Institute of Art, (2017 – present)
    AHRC/CHASE funded.
  • MA History of Art, Courtauld Institute of Art, Distinction. (2015 – 2016)
    – Special Option: ‘Sex and Violence in American Art, 1960-Now’ with Professor Mignon Nixon.
    – Thesis Title: Bisexuality & Louise Bourgeois: precarious objects and the unmanageable subject. An anxious encounter with Avenza and Avenza Revisited (1968-69).
  • BA Art History, University College London, First Class Honours. (2012 – 2015)


  • 2015, The Dean’s List: awarded to the top 5% of graduating students, to recognise academic achievement substantially above the requirements of a first class degree. 
  • 2014, Frances Stracey Sessional Prize: awarded for gaining the top marks of the year.


  • MA Core Methodology Course (Autumn 2018), The Courtauld Institute of Art.
  • BA and Graduate Diploma Foundations Course, ‘Modern and Contemporary Art’ teaching assistant (Summer 2019), The Courtauld Institute of Art.

Other Academic Activity:

  • Editorial Board, immediations
  • Teaching Assistant for Art History Link Up, fast track AS course
  • Gender, Sexuality & Violence Research Network

Conference Papers:  

  • Being and Having, Looking and Living: Catherine Opie’s Being and Having series and the Queer Communal Experience, paper given at ‘Experience and American Art’ Conference, organised by Professor David Peters Corbett (Courtauld) and Professor Alexander Nemerov (Stanford University), March 2018.

Research Interests:

  • Feminism
  • Queer Theory
  • Bisexuality
  • Gender and Subjectivity
  • Materiality 
  • Modern and Contemporary art

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