History of Art


Professor Robert Mills



Robert Mills

Bob Mills is Professor of Medieval Studies and Head of the History of Art Department. Between 2015 and 2018 he directed qUCL, UCL's LGBTQ research network. Bob's books include Suspended Animation: Pain, Pleasure and Punishment in Medieval Culture (2005), Seeing Sodomy in the Middle Ages (2015) and Derek Jarman's Medieval Modern (2018). Bob is currently working on questions of animality and sovereignty in medieval art.

Bob has been a member of LESG, UCL’s LGBTQ+ Steering Group, since 2013 and is proud to be Out@UCL. Read more about Bob’s interests in LGBTQ+ equalities at WeAreOut@UCL. 

Contact Details

Office: 202, 20 Gordon Square
Office Hours: Tuesdays 2.30-3.30pm (term-time only)
+44 (0)20 3108 4020 (internal 54020)
Email: robert.mills@ucl.ac.uk


Professor of Medieval Studies and Head of Department
Dept of History of Art
Faculty of S&HS

Research Themes

Medieval visual culture; representations of pain and punishment; saints; gender and sexuality; animal studies; translation.

Art Design and Architecture


Research Summary

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 directed qUCL, UCL's LGBTQ research network, between 2015 and 2018.

Bob's 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 PrizeSeeing 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 his most recent book, Derek Jarman's Medieval Modern (2018), uses Jarman's longstanding interests in medieval art and literature as a window onto topics such as anachronism, periodization and the politics of time.


Selected Publications


Teaching and Supervision

Bob currently teaches the BA period option ‘Imagining Jerusalem in the Middle Ages’.

In previous years Bob has taught a thematic seminar on 'Regarding Pain' and a module 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', and offered MA special subjects on 'Modern Medieval: Reception, Revival, Replication' and 'Human and Nonhuman in Medieval Art'.

In the past Bob has contributed 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. He also set up the interdisciplinary Masters module 'Critical Introduction to Sexuality Studies', taught with colleagues attached to the qUCL research network that he helped found.

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:

Claire Hollis: Queer History in the 16-18 School History Curriculum: An Action Research Case Study (UCL Institute of Education, secondary supervisor with Arthur Chapman and Rebecca Jennings).

Will Ballantyne-Reid: Derek Jarman, Painter: Activism, Archives and Ephemera (primary supervisor).

Millie Hornton-InschRace, Gender and Textiles in Eleventh- and Twelfth-Century England (joint supervisor, with Clare Lees, Institute of English Studies, University of London).

Matilde Mosterts de Banfield: Rethinking the Premodern Pax: Medieval/Modern Transhistorical Dialogues (primary supervisor).

Louis ShankarLoving and Dying In The Shadow of Forward Motion: A Psychoanalytic Analysis of the Art, Writing and Activism of David Wojnarowicz (joint supervisor, with Mignon Nixon).

Baylee Woodley: Forsaken Femininities: The Long History of Femininity from Medieval to Modern and from Monstrous to Divine (primary supervisor).

Selected past PhD students:

Edward Christie: Mobilising Post-War Eco Art History Against the Climate Crisis (primary supervisor, with Mark Maslin, Geography Department).

Eduardo Correia: Images and Literature in Late Medieval England (King's College London, joint supervisor with Sarah Salih).

Michael Green: H.D. and Artists After (1970 to Present) (second supervisor, with Mignon Nixon).

Rosalind Hayes: Circulated and Consumed: Tracing Animal Lives in the Visual Culture of British Meat Supply Chains, c. 1880-1910 (second supervisor, with Richard Taws).

Melek Karatas: “Illuminatrix libri jurata”: Reading Image and Gender in the Illuminated Roman de la rose Manuscripts of the Montbaston Atelier (1330–1360) (King's College London, second supervisor with Simon Gaunt).

Lauren Rozenberg‘Bere in thy mynde’: Phantasms, Parchment and Late Medieval Visual Culture.

Laura SpadaThe Body Re-imagined: The Bizzarie di Varie Figure and Other Cycles of Prints in Seventeenth-Century Florence (second supervisor, with Rose Marie San Juan).

Euan McCartney RobsonExperiencing English Romanesque Architecture.

Magali BurnichonQueer Representations on Television (with James Agar, Centre for Multidisciplinary and Intercultural Inquiry).

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. He became Professor of Medieval Studies in 2017 and Head of Department in 2019.