The fifth round of Oxford University Gardens, Libraries and Museums Collaborative Doctoral Partnerships began in October 2020, in partnership with the University of Bristol; and Queen Mary University of London (QMUL), Birkbeck and the Institute of English Studies, School of Advanced Study (all part of the University of London). Further details of their research can be found by following the links below:
The Duchess of Botany: Mary Somerset, Jacob Bobart, and the Formation of the Oxford Botanic Garden
Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) and University of Oxford Botanic Garden and Arboretum (OBGA)
The studentship directly complements attention to OBGA’s heritage in preparation for celebrating the Botanic Garden’s 400th anniversary in 2021 by exploring key aspects of its early history. Research will examine the material and intellectual networks that supported the development of its plant collections and institutional structures during the later seventeenth century, with a particular focus on two intriguing figures: the elite female botanical collector, Mary Somerset, Duchess of Beaufort; and the Botanic Garden’s second superintendent, Jacob Bobart the younger.
Biocultural knowledge, power and poetics in South American featherwork
Birkbeck, University of London and Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford
The focus of this doctoral project is on South American featherwork in the Pitt Rivers Museum (PRM) collections. While visitors gazing at the featherwork displays in the PRM might marvel at the sheer variety of objects’ forms, sizes and colours, the multitude of links between particular artefacts, peoples and places remain hidden; visitors are unable to discern and trace specific object histories, meanings and geographies. Exploring South American featherwork in the PRM collections, this interdisciplinary, practice-based doctoral project will seek to develop ways of telling histories of specific objects that shed light not only on the historical processes of collection in the field and the ‘lives’ of the objects in the museum, but also on contemporary debates on Indigenous cultural identity, sovereignty and heritage rights, as well as the dynamic relationships among Indigenous peoples, birds, and environments. This pioneering interdisciplinary project aims to provide understanding of these feathered objects as historical biocultural objects, which afford ways of telling the histories in which biodiversity emerges.
Creating the first Europeans
The University of Bristol (Department of Classics and Ancient History) and Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, University of Oxford (Department of Antiquities)
Over 100 years ago Sir Arthur Evans began excavating The Palace of Minos at Knossos, discovering a Bronze Age culture that he dubbed 'Minoan'. He presented Minoan Crete as the first European civilisation, a modern, sophisticated and imperialistic society. This vision was outlined in numerous publications, especially 'The Palace of Minos' (1921-35), and through contemporary displays in the Ashmolean Museum and beyond. The Palace of Minos was the name Evans gave the monumental building he excavated and reconstructed in concrete. Both publication and archaeological site still stand as a monument to Evans' work but recently many of his ideas have faced scrutiny.
By examining Evans's unpublished writings, publications and acquisitions held in the Sir Arthur Evans Archive at the Ashmolean, the student will assess how Evans' vision of the Minoans developed in the early 1900s. Main research questions: To what extent did Sir Arthur Evans' vision of the Minoans change over time and why? What was the role of the objects in Evans' possession in forming this vision? Conversely, how did his vision affect the presentation and publication of Minoan material culture?
Early Modern Copper Plates at the Bodleian Libraries
The Institute of English Studies (School of Advanced Study, University of London) and Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford
Research will examine the origins and curatorial history of engraved and etched copper plates within the Bodleian’s collections, addressing historical and contemporary questions raised by the preservation of these three-dimensional printing matrices within a special collections library. The focus will be on 750 engraved and etched copper plates from the 17th and 18th centuries, part of the major collection of medieval manuscripts, books, and other antiquarian material bequeathed by Richard Rawlinson (1690-1755). The Rawlinson copper plates are part of a larger group of over 2000 intaglio printing plates preserved in the Bodleian Libraries.