History of Art


Euan Robson

Euan McCartney Robson



Anglo-Norman Architecture (1066-1133): Trauma, Memory and Meaning

At least since Plato's theory of Forms, and in earnest since Ruskin's 'pathetic fallacy', the ascription of human agency and animation to otherwise inanimate phenomena has been suspect. To our modern sensibilities the living presence of the dead in old ashlar and mortar is much less strongly embodied. And yet, for most of the inhabitants of late eleventh- and early twelfth-century England, buildings could be imbued with something like an inner animus, an essence, or a kind of affective and even apotropaic endowment. Indeed, the study of the Anglo-Norman landscape, not unlike the study of the heavens, was often tantamount to a predictive and prognostic discipline. In a period when the powerful efficacy of relics was well-known, the constituent virtus and potentia of sacred places could often and easily be transmitted between bodies, objects and things, not unlike-as Ronald Finucane once described it-a kind of 'holy radioactivity'. In the same way that signs and language, or identity and gender, have been exposed as cultural constructs, so too have place and space been shorn of any lingering (or comforting) sense of objectivity. In most cultural fields, not least history and literary studies, time has been routinely privileged, yet an ever increasing body of scholarship now advocates for space and place as equivalent means of exegesis. Built space and attitudes to being were of a piece in post-Conquest England, albeit one riddled with manifold tensions and competing ideologies. Its innumerable new castles, churches and cathedral complexes spoke actively to and of their attendants. These buildings regulated movement within themselves, as well as within and between larger power networks and institutions. They gave license to particular ways of living, thinking and acting. And so, in the broadest terms, the aim of this project is to historicise Anglo-Norman space in order to reveal how-and ultimately why-post-Conquest people situated themselves, both within their local communities, as well as within the wider cosmos.


Euan graduated from Chelsea College of Art and Design in 2008. He has worked as a sculptor ever since and has exhibited throughout the UK and variously in the US. After graduating from the University of Glasgow with an MLitt in Early European Art in 2010, he moved to California to join the faculty at the University of Redlands. He lectured on ancient and medieval architecture and taught a studio sculpture course. He returned to London in 2013 to work as a Research Assistant on Fernie's pan-European survey of Romanesque architecture sponsored by the Leverhulme Trust and the British Academy. After Romanesque Architecture: The First Style of the European Age was published by Yale University Press in 2014, he joined UCL to pursue his doctoral research.

Research Interests

Anglo-Norman Architecture; Space and Place; Critical Theory; Thing Theory; Phenomenology; Political Science; Visual Culture.

Research Themes

Thoughts, Beliefs & Philosophy; Language, Linguistics & Literature; Heritage, Histories and Cultures; Art, Design & Architecture; Medieval Visual Culture; Saints.


Undergraduate Core Course 2015-2016

Selected Publications

Exhibition Review. 'Celts, Art and Identity,' British Museum, Object (2016)