Staff profile

Dr Ian Neal

Senior Lecturer: Visual Culture


Art and Design


College of Arts, Humanities and Education


School of Arts


Markeaton Street, Derby Campus



My research interests are in British art and illustration of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. I have looked at the relationship between writing on the unconscious in emergent British psychology of the nineteenth century and the concurrent popular trope of depictions of figures in states of daydream, trance and hypnotism. I have also published work on the artist and illustrator John Minton; in particular Minton’s mid-century illustration work and its relationship with Neo-Romanticism in fine art. My aims are to help develop new theoretical inquiry into the discipline of illustration, which has largely remained under the shadow of fine art scholarship.

I am module leader for historical and theoretical modules on various design disciplines at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. These come under the rubric of Visual Culture, a disciplinary field, which accommodates the historical and theoretical investigation of art and design disciplines. My objectives are to complement students’ burgeoning practical skills with intellectual inquiry around art and design disciplines, which is meaningful, purposeful and enlightening.

I believe strongly that the development of critical skills and scholarly study is an integral aspect for the education of illustrators, artists and designers.

Teaching responsibilities

I teach on a range of courses, primarily delivering historical and theoretical modules to undergraduate and postgraduate art and design students.

Research interests

My research interests are in the history and theory of British art and visual cultures. My doctoral research focussed on representations of day dreaming and reverie in British art, 1848-1890. Reverie had a notable currency in Victorian art, yet, its significance has largely been overlooked by art historians. My thesis examined the functions of reverie and contended that its semantic flexibility was seized on by artists in order to expand conventional expectations of narrative. 

My recent interests are in the history and theorisation of illustration. Unlike fine art and certain design disciplines, there is a paucity of scholarship on illustration. I'm currently working on a book which advances the ways in which illustration as a discipline can be theorised. Some commentators note how it sits somewhere between fine art and graphic design; while this description is rather woolly, it offers a starting point to scrutinise this space 'in between' disciplines and to question its usefulness. 


Additional interests and activities

Musician / Composer / Music Production

Currently working on a fourth album. My previous three albums have all been influenced by various instrumental genres and coloured by my interest in 1970s progressive rock, alongside both classical music and contemporary electronica.

In the media

Ian Neal speaking on BBC Radio Derby about the concept of reverie and daydreaming.


Recent publications

Neal, I. (2018) Illustrating Corsica: The modernist landscapes of John Minton’s Time Was Away. Journal of Illustration. Volume 5 Number 1