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Research at St Andrews

Stephanie O'Rourke


Stephanie O'Rourke
Postal address:
School of Art History
79 North Street
St Andrews
United Kingdom


Direct phone: +44 (0)1334 462358

Research overview

Stephanie O’Rourke specializes in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century European visual culture, particularly in relation to scientific knowledge, spectatorship, and media technologies. Her publications on this can be found in RepresentationsArt HistoryEighteenth-Century Studies, Journal18 and elsewhere. 

Her first book (Art, Science and the Body in Early Romanticism, Cambridge University Press) examines the relationship between art and the production of scientific knowledge at the dawn of the nineteenth century. Focusing on the work of Henry Fuseli, Philippe de Loutherbourg, and Anne-Louis Girodet, the book reveals how each artist engaged with the visual, structural, and conceptual features of popular scientific discourses. In doing so, it identifies some of the ways that artworks were critical actors in a larger epistemological transformation taking place at the twilight of European Enlightenment. 

She currently working on a second book funded by Research Fellowship from the Leverhulme Trust and a Saltire Fellowship from the Royal Society of Edinburgh. It examines how late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century European artists engaged with changing ideas about the history of the natural world -- and how these ideas shaped, in turn, their understanding of human history. Focusing on a handful of artists from Britain, France, and Germany, it explores how landscape painting was embedded in two, interconnected discourses: scientific debates about Earth's 'deep history', on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the formation of 'history' as a humanistic, academic discipline.

Her research has been supported by grants and fellowships from the Social Science Research Council, the Yale Center for British Art, the Royal Academy, the Pierre and Tana Matisse Foundation, and elsewhere. From 2013-14 she was a Mellon-funded research fellow at The Museum of Modern Art, where she worked primarily on the exhibition 'Degas: A Strange New Beauty' (2016).

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