UCL Faculty of Arts & Humanities


60 seconds with... Mechthild Fend

3 February 2020

Meet Mechthild Fend, Professor of History of Art, UCL Department of History of Art. Mechthild will be delivering her Inaugural Lecture 'The Pathological Image', on Wednesday 29 April. Read on for a sneak preview...

The Pathological Image

Tell us a little about your research...

I specialise in French eighteenth-century art and visual culture. My work is driven by a feminist perspective and an interest in the complex relationship between body and image. I have been concerned with the historical interactions between art and science, and my work is situated between the history of art and the history of medicine. My last book entitled Fleshing out Surfaces. Skin in French Art and Medicine, 1650–1950, engaged with skin, flesh tones and skin colour. My interest in the history of dermatology and dermatological imagery derived from the research for this book and has broadened into my current project on the pathological image. 

Why is your research important?

Art historical research is both imaginative and precise, I think is important to share this mode of thinking. With my historical work, for example on androgyny or skin colour, I hope to open the possibility of seeing things otherwise.

What inspires you in your work?

Art inspires me as do scholarly books and articles that I read, archives inspire me too. I also get a lot inspiration from my students; seminar discussions often contribute to generating and reshaping my research questions.

What has been your most memorable career moment so far?

This is impossible to say, there have been many memorable moments: starting my first post-doc, the possibility of working at the Max-Planck-Institute for the History of Science in Berlin. Joining UCL was certainly one of the memorable moments, and I still remember my first departmental meeting and the self-awareness with which I saw myself sitting there with both a sense of surprise and happiness.

What passions/hobbies do you have outside of work?

All kinds of social activities: seeing friends and seeing exhibitions or movies with them, theatre, cooking and eating, Tai Chi, ballroom dancing, hiking, and finally running to get exhausted and refresh my mind.

What book is currently on your bedside table?

Joseph Conrad, The Secret Agent.

Register on Eventbrite for Mechthild's lecture

Image: Robert Carswell, 'Blue disease', 1830, UCL Library, Special Collections. © UCL Library Services

Inaugural Lecture Series 2019/20

This lecture is part of the 2019/20 series for UCL's Faculty of Arts & Humanities and Faculty of Social & Historical Sciences. The series provides an opportunity to recognise and celebrate the achievements of our professors who are undertaking research and scholarship of international significance, and offers an insight into the strength and vitality of the arts, humanities and social sciences at UCL.

All our lectures are free to attend and open to all. You don't have to be a UCL staff member or student to come along.

Lectures begin at 18:30 and are typically one hour long. A drinks reception will follow, to which everyone is welcome to join.

We look forward to meeting you at one of our events.

Take a look at the full programme below and register your place on our Inaugural Lectures Eventbrite page.