History of Art


UCL History of Art welcomes Dr Vivek Gupta on a three-year postdoctoral fellowship

6 September 2023

Dr Vivek Gupta secures prestigious Postdoctoral Fellowship funded by the British Academy.

Dr Vivek Gupta is photographing a old manuscript

Vivek Gupta joins us as British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at UCL History of Art where he researches connected book histories across South, Central, and West Asia (ca. 1100—present). From 2020 to 2023, he served as Postdoctoral Associate at University of Cambridge, where he continues to co-direct a research and exhibition project at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Hindustani Airs: Music, Pleasure, and Cultural Exchange in Courtly Lucknow with Senior Curator, Dr Suzanne Reynolds.

Project - Manuscript as Monument: Scribal Knowledge and the Grammar of Ornament in Muslim South Asia (ca. 1300—1550)

How can we reimagine the embodied experience of manuscripts in sacred spaces of Muslim South Asia? To answer this question, I examine the intermedial relationship between manuscript culture and architecture forged by calligraphy and ornament. I focus on a misdated and endangered Indian Qur’an manuscript, the Gulbarga Qur’an (ca. 1406), and its connections to monuments from the peninsular Deccan region. In consideration of a calligraphic practice indigenous to India known as Bihari and numerous unrecognised forms of medieval ornament, I emphasise the agency of artists and their skills that have been transmitted over generations. In contrast to strict style categories, the concept of scribal knowledge reveals how calligraphers moved between Arabic, Persian, and Indic vernaculars. A study of the Gulbarga Qur’an’s architectonic allusions changes our understanding of both Hindu and Muslim material culture from South Asia and artistic practices across the Indian Ocean from Central and West Asia.

Read the full BA announcement