Jeremy Tanner

Jeremy is on sabbatical during 2013-14

Research Interests

  • Sociological and anthropological approaches to art: development of the concept of expressive symbolism in Parsonian action theory, through synthesis with structuralism, pragmatism (Peirce, Mead) and ethology.
  • Comparative approaches to ancient, especially Greek and Roman art: variation in processes of institutional and cultural differentiation in artistic systems (Greece, China, India, early modern Europe); comparative religious iconography; comparative approaches to portraiture
  • Art and archaeology: art as material culture; art and the representation of the past; tourism, heritage and the recycling of the classical past from the Renaissance to today.

Research Directory Records


  • Faces Across the North Sea: Viking Art in Norway and England 700-1300. Collaborative Project between the Institute of Archaeology UCL, and the Institute of Archaeology University of Trondheim.

Educational Background

  • BA Classics, Cambridge University 1987
  • Thouron Scholar, University of Pennsylvania 1987/8, Graduate Studies in Anthropology, Communications and Sociology
  • 1990 MA Sociology, University of Pennsylvania
  • 1990-1996: Graduate Studies in Social and Political Science and Classics, University of Cambridge
  • 1996 PhD, University of Cambridge, The Invention of Art History: Religion, Society and Artistic Differentiation in Comparative Historical Perspective.
  • Tanner, J.  (2013). Figuring out death: sculpture and agency at the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus and the tomb of the First Emperor of China. In Chua, L. and Elliot M  (Eds.). Distributed Objects: Meaning and Mattering after Alfred Gell (pp.58-87). London UK: Berghahn.
  •  Tanner, J. J. (2011). The body, expressive culture and social interaction: integrating art history and action theory. In Lidz, Victor ed. Talcott Parsons. International Library of Essays in Classical Sociology. (pp.523-562). London UK: Ashgate. (Reprint of Tanner 2000).
  • Tanner, J. (2011). "Race in classical art", Apollo Vol. clxxiii, no. 584: 24-29
  • Tanner, J. (2010). "Michael Baxandall and the sociological interpretation of art", Cultural Sociology 4.2: 231-56. (Winner of the Sage Cultural Sociology Prize).
  • Tanner, J. (2010). "Race and representation in ancient art: Black Athena and after", in David Bindman and Henry Louis Gates jr. eds. The Image of the Black in Western Art, volume 1: From the Pharaohs the Fall of the Roman Empire. Harvard, Belknap Press. Pp. 1-39.
  • Tanner, J. (2010). "A muvesz szociologiaja", Korunk XXI.5: 40-46. (Hungarian translation of "The sociology of the artist", in J. Tanner ed. 2003. The Sociology of Art: a Reader. Routledge, London. Pp. 105-111).
  • Tanner, J. (2010). "Aesthetics and art history writing in comparative historical perspective", Arethusa 43.2: 267-88.
  • Tanner, J. (2009). "Ancient Greece: early China. Sino-hellenic studies and comparative approaches to the classical world", Journal of Hellenic Studies 129: 89-109
  • Tanner, J. (2009). "Karl Mannheim and Alois Riegl: from art history to the sociology of culture", Art History 32.4: 755-784.
  • Tanner, J. (2007). Portraits and agency: a comparative view. in Osborne,R., Tanner, J. (ed.) Art's Agency and Art History. New Interventions in Art History series. London and New York: Blackwells, 1-226. ISBN: 9781405135375
  • Tanner ,J., Osborne, R. (2007), Art's Agency and Art History,New Interventions in Art History series. London and New York: Blackwells. ISBN: 9781405135375.
  • Tanner, J., Osborne, R. (2007). Introduction: 'Art and agency' and art history. in Osborne, R., Tanner, J. (ed.) Art's Agency and Art History. New Interventions in Art History series. London and New York: Blackwells. ISBN: 9781405135375
  • Tanner, J. (2006), The Invention of Art History in Ancient Greece: Religion, Society and Artistic Rationalisation, Cambridge Classical Monographs series. London: Cambridge University Press.
  • Tanner, J. (2005). Rationalists, fetishists and art lovers: action theory and the comparative analysis of high cultural institutions. Chapter 10 in Fox, R. C., Lidz, V. M. , Bershady, H. J. (ed.) After Parsons: A Theory of Social Action for the Twenty First Century. New York: Russel Sage Foundation, 179-207. ISBN: 0-87154-269-2
  • Tanner, J. (2004). "Archaeology and art", co-authored with Raymond Corbey and Robert Layton, in J. Bintliff ed). A Companion to Archaelogy. (Oxford, Blackwells) pp. 367-79.
  • Tanner, J. (ed.) (2003). The Sociology of Art: a Reader. Routledge.
  • Tanner, J. (2003). 'Finding the Egyptian in early Greek art', in Roger Mathews and Cornelia Roemer (eds.) Ancient Perspectives on Egypt, UCL Press, pp. 115-143.
  • Tanner, J. (2001). Nature, culture and the body in classical Greek religious art', World Archaeology 33: 257-76.
  • Tanner, J. (2000). The body, expressive culture and social interaction: integrating art history and action theory, in H Staubmann & H Wenzel (eds), Talcott Parsons: zur Aktualitaet eines Theorienprogramms. Oesterreichische Zeitschrift fur Soziologie, Sonderband 6, 285-323
  • Tanner, J. (2000). Portraits, patrons and power in the late Roman Republic, The Journal of Roman Studies, XC, 18-50
  • Tanner, J, (2000). Social structure, cultural rationalisation and aesthetic judgement in classical Greece, in N K Rutter & B Sparkes (eds), Word and Image in Ancient Greece. Edinburgh Leventis Studies I, 183-205. Edinburgh University Press
  • Tanner, J. (1999). Culture, Social structure and the status of visual artists, Proceeedings of the Cambridge Philological Society, 45, 136-175
  • Tanner, J. (1996). Augustus, Patron of the arts, in The Dictionary of Art. Macmillan
  • Tanner, J. Collecting, Museums and the Politics of Knowledge in Late Modern Society, Review article in The Cambridge Review, 115(2324), 83-87
  • Tanner, J. (1994). Shifting paradigms in Classical Art History, Review article in Antiquity, 68(260), 650-5
  • Tanner, J. (1992). Art as expressive symbolism (with comments by C Renfrew, I Hodder and A Schnapp), Cambridge Archaeological Journal, 2(2), 167-90

Current Students

  • Felipe Armstong Human representation in Rapa Nui Art. Discussing personhood through aesthetic (joint supervision with Sue Hamilton)
  • Victoria Donnellan The role of collections of classical antiquities in UK regional museums (joint supervision with Theano Moussouri)
  • Matilda Duncker Egyptianising funerary monuments in Victorian Britain: a social analysis (joint supervision with David Wengrow)
  • Oliver Lown Colonial art in the iron age Mediterranean from a comparative Perspective: Greece, Rome and Phoenicia (joint supervision with Corinna Riva)
  • Sanja Vucetic Patterns of iconographic representations of human sexual activity and mythological erotic pursuits on Roman terracotta mould-made lamps and Terra Sigillata (joint supervision with Andrew Gardner)

Second Supervisor

  • Tessa Robinson The cultural and social significance of knots amongst the Ancient Maya (principal supervisor Elizabeth Graham)

Previous Students

  • Sue Brunning The 'Living' sword in Anglo-Saxon England and Scandinavia c.500-1100: An interdisciplinary study (principal supervisor Andrew Reynolds)
  • Dimitra Christidou Does 'pointing at' in museum exhibitions make a point?: Research of visitors' embodied responses and their use in measuring participation and meaning - making (principal supervisor Theano Moussouri)
  • Sophy Downes The aesthetics of Empire in Athens and Persia (joint supervision with Amelie Kuhrt (History), second supervisor David Wengrow)
  • Ahmed Mekawy Ouda Weret-hekau "great of magic" in the religious landscape of ancient Egypt (principal supervisor Stephen Quirke)
  • Susan Poole Gender roles and relations in the Aegean Bronze Age interpreted from the gestures, postures and inter-relational placement depicted in the imagery of frescoes, glyptics and three-dimensional artefacts (joint supervision with Cyprian Broodbank)

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