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Dr William Kynan-Wilson

Profile summary

Professional biography

 

BA History of Art (Cambridge), MPhil History of Art (Cambridge), and PhD History of Art (Cambridge).

 

I am a historian and an art historian interested in the relationship between texts and images in the medieval and early modern periods. More precisely, much of my teaching and research is concerned with ideas and images of Rome in the Middle Ages, and the Ottoman Renaissance in a global context.

Before joining the Open University in 2021, I was a Lecturer in the History of Art at the University of Bristol and before that a Lecturer in History at Aalborg University in Denmark. I have held research fellowships at the Freie Universität and the Forum Transregionale Studien in Berlin, and Aalborg University. I have also been a visiting research fellow at the Skilliter Centre for Ottoman Studies in Cambridge, the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, and the Danish Academy in Rome.

 

Research interests

My research explores cultural exchange in the medieval and early modern periods, working at the intersection of art historical studies, literature, and cultural history. I am particularly interested in the relationship between travel literature and visual culture in the Mediterranean world.

My first area of interest concerns Anglo-Roman cultural encounters in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. My work examines Anglo-Norman descriptions of the city and its art and architecture as well as analysing medieval uses of classical culture in both its material and literary forms. I have published widely on this topic with particular reference to writers such as William of Malmesbury, Master Gregory, Gerald of Wales, Thomas of Marlborough, and Matthew Paris.

My second area of research concerns European-Ottoman encounters in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. I focus on a genre of book known as an Ottoman costume album. These manuscripts survive in great numbers and they provide a rich and complex insight into the Ottoman world, Orientalism, and early modern ideas of fashioning and self-fashioning. I am currently writing the first monograph dedicated to these costume books; it will include a catalogue detailing more than 250 albums of which approximately 130 were previously unknown. I am also editing several unpublished travel accounts of the Ottoman empire written by English travellers in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

My research has been recognised by academic prizes from the University of Cambridge and the Carlsberg Foundation, as well as research grants and awards from: Trinity College, Cambridge; the Bibliographical Society (UK); the British Academy and Leverhulme Trust; the Gennadius Library in Athens; the British Institute in Ankara; the Danish Academy in Rome; the Institute of Historical Research; and the Danish Council for Independent Research.

My most recent book is an edited volume of essays that examines Henry of Blois, one of the most significant figures in twelfth-century Europe and a patron of the arts integral to discussions of the ‘twelfth-century Renaissance’ (Henry of Blois: New Interpretations, Boydell & Brewer: 2021; co-edited with John Munns).

 

Teaching interests

I have a wide range of teaching interests and a passion for delivering inspiring and innovative teaching. I have previously taught at the Universities of Cambridge, Bristol, and Aalborg. I have also been a Guest Lecturer for the Victoria & Albert Museum and the Royal College of Art, and for the Sutton Trust. In 2021, I was nominated for two different university teaching awards by my students at the University of Bristol.

At the Open University, I work on a range of modules including the level 2 course Exploring Art and Visual Culture (A226) and the level 3 course Art and its Global Histories (A344). I am a member of the module production team for A226R and A336.

 

PhD Supervision

I warmly welcome enquiries from potential applicants interested in pursuing a PhD in Art History. I am particularly interested in working with students who want to engage with visual and material culture across traditional disciplinary boundaries and/or any of the following topics: Ottoman art; art in medieval England; travel texts and images; costume books; the early modern body; and the reception of classical culture in the medieval period.

 

Impact and engagement

I am passionate about using art history to engage with new and diverse audiences. I am especially excited about working with museums and heritage organisations to this end. In 2011, I curated the first exhibition devoted to Ottoman costume books in the United Kingdom (Images of the East, Cambridge), and I have contributed to major exhibitions at the British Museum and the Minneapolis Institute of Art, as well as being an historical consultant for Sotheby’s Islamic Art Department, Antiquariat InLibris in Vienna, and BBC-Starz Television Productions.

I am a member of the Editorial Board for the journal Classica et Mediaevalia and the Open Arts Journal. I am also a member of the Societas Latina Daniae which promotes Latin language, literature, and culture in Denmark.

 

Publications

Smiling, Laughing and Joking in Papal Rome: Thomas of Marlborough and Gerald of Wales at the Court of Pope Innocent III (1198-1216) (2018-10)
Kynan-Wilson, William and Fonnesberg-Schmidt, Iben
Papers of the British School at Rome, 86 (pp. 153-181)


Subverting a Papal Message? Master Gregory’s use of the Mirabilia urbis Romae (2018)
Kynan-Wilson, William
Journal of Medieval History, 44(3) (pp. 347-364)


Framing papal communication in the central Middle Ages (2018)
Althoff, Gerd; Fonnesberg-Schmidt, Iben and Kynan-Wilson, William
Journal of Medieval History, 44(3) (pp. 251-260)


Mira Romanorum artifitia: William of Malmesbury and the Romano-British Remains at Carlisle (2012)
Kynan-Wilson, William
Essays in Medieval Studies, 28 (pp. 35-49)


Uniting the Strands: David Jones’ Quia per Incarnati (2007)
Kynan-Wilson, William
The David Jones Journal, 6 (pp. 97-114)


Henry of Blois and the construction of Roman identity (2021-02)
Kynan-Wilson, William
In: Kynan-Wilson, William and Munns, J. M. eds. Henry of Blois: New Interpretations (pp. 185-208)
ISBN : 9781783275748 | Publisher : Boydell & Brewer | Published : Woodbridge


Introduction: Approaches to Henry of Blois (2021-02)
Kynan-Wilson, William and Munns, J. M.
In: Kynan-Wilson, William and Munns, J. M. eds. Henry of Blois: New Interpretations (pp. 1-25)
ISBN : 9781783275748 | Publisher : Boydell & Brewer | Published : Woodbridge


The Origins of Orientalism: A Plurality of Orients and Occidents (c.1500-1800) (2019-10-31)
Kynan-Wilson, William
In: Greenwood, William and de Guise, Lucien eds. Inspired by the East: How the Islamic World Influenced Western Art (pp. 32-43)
ISBN : 9780714111933 | Publisher : British Museum | Published : London


Looking East catalogue entries (2019-10-31)
Kynan-Wilson, William
In: Greenwood, William and de Guise, Lucien eds. Inspired by the East: How the Islamic World Influenced Western Art (pp. 112-135)
ISBN : 9780714111933 | Publisher : British Museum | Published : London


Play and performance in Ottoman costume albums (2019-06-06)
Kynan-Wilson, William
In: Boyar, Ebru and Fleet, Kate eds. Entertainment among the Ottomans (pp. 62-89)
ISBN : 9789004273665 | Publisher : Brill | Published : Leiden


‘Painted by the Turcks themselves’: Reading Peter Mundy’s Ottoman Costume Album in Context (2017-11-15)
Kynan-Wilson, William
In: Babaie, Sussan and Gibson, Melanie eds. The Mercantile Effect: On Art and Exchange in the Islamicate World (pp. 38-50)
ISBN : 978-1909942103 | Publisher : Gingko Library | Published : London


The Ottoman Imagery of Jacopo Ligozzi (2017-01-09)
Kynan-Wilson, William
In: Arfioli, Maurizio and Caroscio, Marta eds. The Grand Ducal Medici and the Levant: Material Culture, Diplomacy, and Imagery in the Early Modern Mediterranean. The Medici Archive Project (3) (pp. 101-111)
ISBN : 978-1-909400-36-8 | Publisher : Brepolis | Published : Turnhout


Roman Identity in William of Malmesbury’s Historical Writings (2017)
Kynan-Wilson, William
In: Thomson, R. M.; Dolmans, E. and Winkler, E. eds. Discovering William of Malmesbury (pp. 81-91)
Publisher : Boydell & Brewer | Published : Woodbridge


Costume Albums (2017)
William, Kynan-Wilson
In: Fleet, Kate; Kramer, Gudrun; Matringe, Denis; Nawas, John and Rowson, Everett eds. The Encyclopaedia of Islam (3rd edition) (pp. 25-27)
Publisher : Brill


The Papacy and Communication in the Central Middle Ages (2021-03-01)
Kynan-Wilson, William; Fonnesberg-Schmidt, Iben; Opitz-Trotman, Gesine and Lauge Christensen, Emil eds.
ISBN : 9780367684365 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : London


Henry of Blois: New Interpretations (2021-02-19)
Kynan-Wilson, William and Munns, J. M. eds.
ISBN : 9781783275748 | Publisher : Boydell & Brewer | Published : Woodbridge