Dr Freya Gowrley

Postdoctoral Research Fellow in History

Freya Growler in a classroom.


College of Arts, Humanities and Education

Research centre

Identity, Culture and Representation Research Centre






I am an art historian and Postdoctoral Fellow in History at the University of Derby. Previously, I was a Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art Postdoctoral Fellow, a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Edinburgh’s Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, and a Visiting Lecturer in the University of Edinburgh’s History of Art department, where I received my PhD in 2016. 

I have held short-term research fellowships at Yale Center for British Art, the Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library, the Huntington Library, and the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin. In the 2018-19 and the 2019-20 academic years, I will take up short term fellowships from the University of St Andrews, the Library Company of Philadelphia, the Wolfsonian Museum, the Winterthur Museum, and the Terra Foundation for American Art. 

Research interests

My research focuses on the relationship between identity and visual and material culture in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Britain and North America, exploring this connection through three key sites: the home, the collaged object, and the body. I am currently revising my doctoral thesis for publication as a monograph exploring the role of emotions and social relations in the material culture of the eighteenth-century home, as well as working on research projects on collage made between 1680 and 1912, and on eighteenth-century corpulence. 


Membership of professional bodies

I recently joined the Association for Art History’s Doctoral and Early Career Researcher Network Project Board, serving as an Early Career Representative. If you have ideas about how better to support postgraduate and early career art historians, please get in touch. 


Recent conferences

I have presented aspects of my research at a range of conferences, events, and invited talks. Below are my most recent speaking engagements: 

From 2015-2017 I co-convened Edinburgh’s Eighteenth-Century Research Seminars, and I have organised and convened several conferences and events at the University of Edinburgh; on behalf of the Association of Art Historians’ Student Members Committee; and sessions at a range of disciplinary conferences. With Dr Cole Collins, I currently co-convene the Collage Research Network, which hosts a blog, newsletter, and events on the topic of collage. Below are the most recent events that I have been involved with: 

Conferences and Workshops:

Conference Sessions:

Experience in industry

Aspects from my research on collage made before 1900 informed the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art exhibition, Cut & Paste: 400 Years of Collage (2019), and can also be found in a chapter on 'Collage before Modernism' in the exhibition’s catalogue

I am currently working as a consultant on an exhibition on the history of love, to be held in Edinburgh in 2020. 

Additional interests and activities

I am a regular contributor to the British Society of Eighteenth-Century Studies' 'Criticks' page, and I have written book and exhibition reviews for West 86th: A Journal of Decorative Arts, Design History and Material Culture, the Nineteenth-Century Studies Association, the Journal of Eighteenth-Century Studies, the Women’s Studies Group 1558 – 1837, the Review of English Studies, Eighteenth-Century Fiction, and the Journal of Design History


Recent publications