Photo of Shearer WestProfessor Shearer West

Deputy Vice-Chancellor

Professor of Art History
B.A. (William and Mary), Ph.D. (St. Andrews)
18th-century British and Italian art; Victorian art; European art of the late nineteenth century’ 20th-century German art

+44 (0)114 22 21101

Office hours: Autumn 2015/16 - Monday 2-3pm; Tuesday 3-4pm



Shearer West is Professor of Art History and Deputy Vice-Chancellor. She obtained her B.A. degree in Art History and English at the College of William and Mary in Virginia, and her Ph.D. in Art History at St. Andrews. She worked as an editor for the Grove Dictionary of Art before taking up an academic post in art history at the University of Leicester.

In 1996, she moved to the University of Birmingham as Head of the History of Art Department , then Head of the School of Historical Studies and briefly Acting Head of the College of Arts and Law. She was awarded a personal chair in 2000.

In 2008 she was appointed Director of Research at the Arts and Humanities Research Council where she also chaired the Research Directors Group for RCUK. She was appointed Head of the Humanities Division at Oxford in 2011, where she oversaw the launch of the Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH) and the Ertegun Graduate Scholarship Programme in the Humanities.

She moved to Sheffield in 2015 to be Deputy Vice-Chancellor.

Professional Roles

Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts

Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Fellow of the Royal Historical Society

Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford (2011-15)

Honorary Fellow, Mansfield College, Oxford

Chair of the Association of Art Historians (2001-2004)

Fellowship at the Yale Center for British Art (2003)

Charles J. Cole Fellowship at the Lewis Walpole Library of Yale University (1999)



Professor West is the author or editor of nine books on aspects of eighteenth-, nineteenthand twentieth-century European art, including Portraiture (OUP) and Italian Culture in Northern Europe in the Eighteenth Century (CUP). She has been a Visiting Fellow at Yale
University twice, is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and the Royal Historical Society, and was a member of the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise panel in History of Art.

Research Supervision

She has supervised many Mphil theses and the following Ph.Ds subjects to completion:

  • Jessica Dismorr
  • Barbara Hepworth’s Late Bronzes
  • The Image of Christ in Turn of the Century Viennese Art (AHRB funded)
  • The Aesthetics of Cohesion and Subversion in German Avant-Garde Art
  • Gender, Domestic Textile Production and the Macchiaioli
  • Masculinity and the Image of the Artist in Byrne Jones’ Pygmalion series
  • Visual and Religious Culture in Fuseli’s Swiss Drawings
  • (co-supervised with Prof. William Dodd, University of Birmingham) Johanna Ey and her circle
  • David Hockney: portraits, identity and ‘homosexuality’

Further information on research opportunities within the department.


Authored Books

2004: Portraiture (Oxford: Oxford University Press), 256pp [e.g. review in Independent 30 April 2004]

2000: The Visual Arts in Germany 1890-1937: Utopia and Despair (Manchester: Manchester University Press and Rutgers University Press, 2000), 242pp. [e.g. review in The Art Book]

1993: Fin de Siècle: Art and Society in an Age of Uncertainty (London: Bloomsbury and New York: Overlook Press, 1993), 152pp.

1991: The Image of the Actor: Verbal and Visual Representation in the Age of Garrick and Kemble (London: Pinter Publishers, 1991), 191pp, paperback edition also in 1991. [reviewed TLS 4 October 1991; Theatre Notebook, vol. XLVII, no. 1, 1993; The Year’s Work in English, 1991; and a Swedish journal, entré, no. 2, 1992, p. 88]

1990: Chagall (London: Bison Books, 1990), French translation (Paris: PMI Publications, 1991), 17

Full list of Publications

Public Engagement

Public Engagement and Policy Work

2015: panel speaker on international research collaboration at Global Higher EducationConference in Melbourne

2015: University of Oxford Public Engagement Champion

2014: Invited plenary speaker for UK Research Office (UKRO) conference in Bristol

2014: Invited panellist for Knowledge Exchange in an International Context, roundtable at Southampton University

2014: (with Eva Hoogland), ‘Open Access in the Humanities’, paper for Pan European Networks 

2014: ‘Why the World needs the Humanities’, New Statesman, 27 March 2014 (publication to coincide with British Council ‘Going Global’ conference in Miami)

2014: ‘Humanities Research Leadership in Europe’, commissioned stimulus paper for the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education, 2014

Presented findings of paper at British Academy launch, December 2013 and at LERU invitation only meeting in Brussels, May 2014, as well as Research away day at QMUL and invited by VC of UEA to run a workshop on the paper.

2013: Lead author on Science Europe Humanities Scientific Committee position statement on Open Access in Humanities and Social Sciences, 2013

2013: Invited plenary speaker at conference on ‘Measuring and Maximising Impact’, Melbourne, and invited consultant to the Australian Research Council.

2013: Invited chair for debate at ‘Academic Leaders in Wales’ conference for Leadership Foundation for Higher Education, 2013.

2013: Editor of LERU policy note for advice to the European Commission, ‘Essential SSH Research for the Societal Challenges: Secure, Clean and Efficient Energy’,

2013: author of blog ‘A good humanities degree has real value and opens the door to a wide range of career prospects’, LSE British Politics and Policy Blog (invited contribution), 31 July

2013, [also interviewed about the same report ‘Humanities Graduates and the British Economy: the Hidden Impact’ (July 2013) in Financial Times, The Australian, Chronicle of Higher Education, The Conversation UK and others]

2012: Speaker on the Value of Humanities in Cafe Humanities event held in a coffee shop in Tel Aviv, March 2012.

2012: Plenary panel speaker at Engage 2012 conference of the National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement

2011: ‘The Public Value of Victorian Studies’, Journal of Victorian Studies Online, 7 October 2011 ( )

2005: Expert commentator for BBC2 documentary on Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss, aired April

2005 (other experts included John Malkovich and Germaine Greer).

Administrative Duties

International Roles of Responsibility

  • Panel speaker on international research collaboration at Global Higher Education Conference in Melbourne (October 2015)
  • Appointed to be part of international delegation for Global Social Sciences and Humanities summit in Leiden (November 2014)
  • Appointed external reviewer for the University of Sydney Social Science submission to the Excellence for Research in Australia (ERA) assessment (September 2014)
  • Appointed member of University of Vienna Social Sciences Faculty Advisory Board (2014)
  • Jury member of the Netherlands Spinoza Award (‘the Nobel Prize of the Netherlands’ (2013-16)
  • Jury member of Flemish Odysseus Science Award (2014)
  • Appointed LERU humanities representative of the Climate Change Advisory Group for Horizon 2020 European Research Programme (2013)
  • Appointed external reviewer for the Social Science Faculty at the University of Vienna (2013)
  • UK Humanities representative on the Humanities Scientific Committee of Science Europe (2012-15)
  • Panellist for Norwegian Research Council (2012-)
  • Member of the Social Sciences and Humanities Community of the League of European Research Universities (LERU) (2012-)
  • Member of Directorate-General of Research, External Advisory Group on the Social Sciences and Humanities research Programme of the European Commission (2011-13)

National Committee and Research Council Work

Research Assessment Exercise (RAE):

  • Member of RAE 2008 Sub-Panel 64: History of Art, Architecture and Design.
  • Appointed member of Expert Panel for development of the REF (2009).

Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC):

  • Appointed member of AHRC Europe Advisory Group, 2014
  • Member of Panel 2 (Visual Arts and Media) for AHRC postgraduate grants (2004-2007), appointed Convenor of the Panel 2005, with a place on the AHRC Postgraduate Panel (involved with strategic discussions leading up to introduction of the block grant partnership scheme).
  • Member of AHRC Peer Review College (2005-2008 and 2012-).
  • Panel co-chair for ESRC/AHRC Connected Communities programme call (2011-12)
  • Member of AHRC Creative and Performing Arts Fellowship Panel (2005, 2006).
  • Member of AHRC Commissioning Panel for Phase 2 of Research Centres (2006).
  • Chair of Research Workshops in Museums and Galleries Panel (2006, 2007).
  • Member of Working Group on Decision-making changes in AHRC.
  • Member of International Advisory Group.

Advisory and Editorial Boards

  • Appointed member of Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art Advisory Council (2013-16).
  • Member of Editorial Advisory Board of Times Higher Education (THE) (2011-) and Judge of the THE University awards (2011-15).
  • Member of HEFCE committee on Strategically Important and Vulnerable Subjects (SIVS) (2012-present).
  • Member of Advisory Board for School of Advanced Study, University of London (2011-14) and subsequently member of the Advisory Committee with the remit to report to HEFCE (2014-17).
  • Member of the International Advisory Board for Eighteenth Century Studies (2007-present).
  • Consultant for ‘Careers for Arts Ph.D. students’, online course, London; Epigeum, 2007.
  • Member of Executive Committee of British Society for Eighteenth Century Studies (2006-2009).
  • Member of Advisory Board for Thomson/Gale’s online publication of nineteenth-century British periodicals (2004-2006).
  • Member of Grants Advisory Board for Paul Mellon Centre, London (2001-2005).
  • Member of Grant Panel for British Federation of Women Graduates (2003-2004).
  • Member of Editorial Board of Birmingham University Press (1998-2001), Chair of Board from 2001.
  • Member of the Editorial Boards for the Journal of Victorian Culture (1996-2001), Art History (2001-04) and Journal for Eighteenth Century Studies (2014-19).