History of Art


Ivan Knapp

PhD supervisor: Professor Mignon Nixon
Working title for PhD: 'Meme-work: Psychoanalysis and the alt-right'

My thesis attempts to elaborate the psychic dynamics of the alt-right by reading certain of its visual objects, in particular memes, as well as artworks which touch on alt-right sensibilities, through psychoanalytic theories of dreams, the group and male hysteria. I ask, What can the psychoanalytic vocabularies these theories provide surface of the ‘work’ these objects perform, participate in, or contest? The thesis thus considers how certain historical figurations of online sociality are legible to what psychoanalytic theorists have characterized as pathologies of everyday life at the level of fantasy, gender, and the psychic life of groups. Using the languages of psychoanalysis alongside those of art history, this research forwards theorizations of gender and the group that entangle new technological affordances and digital ecologies.

This PhD project is fully funded by the London Arts and Humanities Partnership (AHRC).


  • PGTA, History of Art, undergraduate core course, University College London (2019)
  • Lecture and seminar convenor, Academy of Media Arts, Cologne (2019)
  • Lecture and seminar convenor, University of Edinburgh (2018)


  • ‘A betamale is being beaten’, Object, 21. 2019 


  • Peer review, International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 102, 2021


  • Freud Museum, London, 2020, Psychoanalysis “Post-truth”: US Election Special, moderator of artist panel.
  • University College London, Centre for the Study of Contemporary Art, 2020, convenor Futures.
  • University College London, Institute for Advance Studies, 2019, co-convenor Virtual Spaces: Metaphor and Materiality.
  • Edinburgh University and Edinburgh College of Art, 2018, Art & Violence Now, conference paper on ‘Meme-work.’