Professor Robert Mills
Bob Mills is Professor of Medieval Studies and director of qUCL, UCL's LGBTQ research network. Before joining UCL, he was Senior Lecturer in English at King's College London. Author of Suspended Animation: Pain, Pleasure and Punishment in Medieval Culture (2005) and Seeing Sodomy in the Middle Ages (2015), he has recently completed a project on Derek Jarman's medievalism entitled Derek Jarman's Medieval Modern. Bob is currently working on questions of animality and sovereignty in medieval art.
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Professor of Medieval Studies and Director of LGBTQ Research Network
Dept of History of Art
Faculty of S&HS
Medieval visual culture; representations of pain and punishment; saints; gender and sexuality; animal studies; translation.
Bob's research mainly focuses on the visual culture and literature of England and France between the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries. He has also published on art in the Low Countries, Germany and Italy, and lately he has been turning his attention to painting and sculpture in northern Spain and along the Camino de Santiago. Bob's first book Suspended Animation: Pain, Pleasure and Punishment in Medieval Culture (2005), which came out of his doctoral research, shows this range. An essay collection he co-edited, The Monstrous Middle Ages (2003), demonstrates his commitment to research with a strong interdisciplinary focus.
Bob has longstanding interests in gender and sexuality, both as historical phenomena and critical categories. He has published a number of chapters and articles in this field, contributed the medieval section to A Gay History of Britain (2007), and co-edited Troubled Vision: Gender, Sexuality, and Sight in Medieval Text and Image (2004). Feminist theory, queer studies and LGBT cultural history have always exerted a shaping influence on his research. At King's he was director of the Queer@King's research centre, and he has organized a number of symposia, conferences, research seminars and public events under this heading. He currently directs qUCL, UCL's LGBTQ research network.
Bob's most recent book, Seeing Sodomy in the Middle Ages (2015), explores the relationship between sodomy and motifs of vision and visibility in medieval culture, on the one hand, and those categories we today call 'gender' and 'sexuality,' on the other. Winner of the Society for French Studies R. Gapper Book Prize, Seeing Sodomy foregrounds the role played by translation - visual, textual and cultural - in defining when and how sexual and gender diversity become intelligible. Bob is also interested in issues of translation more generally and 2012 saw the publication another co-edited collection, Rethinking Medieval Translation: Ethics, Politics, Theory.
Bob is now turning his attention to questions of 'the animal' in medieval visual culture and is currently completing a book project on this theme. He also has a developing interest in film and recently completed another book, Derek Jarman's Medieval Modern, which uses Jarman's longstanding interests in medieval art and literature as a window onto topics such as anachronism, periodization and the politics of time.
Teaching and Supervision
Bob teaches a BA special subject on 'Modern Medieval' and an MA special subject on 'Human and Nonhuman in Medieval Art.' He also contributes to the Gender and Sexuality Studies programme at UCL, supervising MA dissertations in this area and giving a class as part of the MA Gender, Society and Representation core course.
In previous years Bob has taught a thematic seminar on 'Regarding Pain' and a course on 'Relics, Saints, Images and Power' for the History of Art BA programme. He has also co-taught the BA course 'Methodologies of Art History' and the MA core course 'Critical Debates and Methods in the History of Art.
Bob is interested in supervising doctoral projects on any aspect of medieval visual culture (broadly defined); research situated at the interface between the visual and the verbal; projects on animals and animality; medievalism and medieval film; Derek Jarman. He is also interested in supervising research on medieval gender and sexuality, as well as work exploring aspects of queer history and art history in any period from a theoretical perspective.
Current PhD students:
Magali Burnichon: Queer Representations on Television (with James Agar, Centre for Multidisciplinary and Intercultural Inquiry).
Eduardo Correia: Images and Literature in Late Medieval England (King's College London, with Sarah Salih).
Euan McCartney Robson: Experiencing English Romanesque Architecture.
Lauren Rozenberg: The Cognitive Phantasm and Material Perception of Christ in Late Medieval Parchment Culture.
Laura Spada, The Body Re-imagined: The Bizzarie di Varie Figure and Other Cycles of Prints in Seventeenth-Century Florence (second supervisor, with Rose Marie San Juan).
Selected past PhD students:
Andy Murray: The Mourners of Philip the Bold's Tomb: Structures of Feeling in the Earlier Valois Burgundian State (with Alison Wright, completed 2015).
Sophia Wilson: Living Objects: Material Culture and Non/Human Transformations in the Literature of Medieval England (King's College London, with Sarah Salih, completed 2015).
Skyler Hijazi: Figurative Bodies, Figural Children: Erotic Economies of Queer Fan Art Online (King's College London, with John Howard, completed 2014).
Wendy Gore: 'Wilful Longing to God': A Lacanian Reading of Julian of Norwich's Texts (King's College London, with Sarah Salih, completed 2013).
Victoria Blud: Louder Than Words: The Performance of the Unspeakable in Old and Middle English Literature (King's College London, with Clare Lees, completed 2009).
Tom Hodgson-Jones: Deposition and the Absolute King: The Confessio Amantis and Gower's Philosophy of Kingship (King's College London, completed 2006).
Bob Mills graduated from the University of Manchester with a BA in Medieval Studies in 1994 and an MA in the History of Art in 1996. He completed his PhD in the Department of History of Art at the University of Cambridge in 2000. The focus of Bob's doctoral research was representations of pain and punishment in medieval art and literature and there has always been an interdisciplinary bent to his profile. Reflecting these interests, Bob taught in the English Department at King's College London for eleven years, before joining the History of Art Department at University College London in 2012.