Community profile

Dr Beth Williamson

Beth Williamson

Senior Lecturer
History of Art

I studied History at Oxford and then did a MA and PhD in History of Art at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London. I was always keen on the relation between History and History of Art. In 1998, I applied for the position at Bristol and I was particularly attracted by the fact that not only would I be a member of a History of Art department, but would also be part of the Centre for Medieval Studies; I'm a medievalist and I wanted to work with colleagues in other areas of Medieval Studies.

“The History of Art Department is quite small, which means that students get to know each other and get to know the staff. We get very highly qualified students, but those who work hard really develop further during their time here. The best students are willing to read widely and to be responsible for their own learning. Quite a bit of the teaching is done in seminars, and the students are encouraged to work together and to interact with each other and with the academic staff during teaching sessions.

“At the moment, I am working on art and music and their place in religious devotion in the Middle Ages. I have always been interested in how religious behaviour was shaped and fashioned, and how people used art, buildings and material culture in their religious activities. The research interest in music is new to my work, however. I am looking at sound studies and the idea of soundscape to investigate the way that the background of sound, and an engagement with sound, had an effect on religious experience in the middle ages. Naturally this project benefits from contact with my colleagues in medieval history, medieval religion and medieval music within the Centre for Medieval Studies. It relates closely to certain aspects of a collaborative project on 'The Medieval West' that I am helping to organise with my colleagues James Clark (History) and Elizabeth Archibald (English). This kind of exchange and collaboration is one of the things that I like best about working in the Faculty of Arts.”