phd-cover.jpgA book about the PhD degree in studio art, as it is practiced around the world.

The book's cover in the US edition. This is one of Jo-Anne Duggan's Impossible Gaze series of photographs made inside museums. Her PhD dissertation and artwork are sampled in the book. (Cover design by the editor, who got no credit for it.) 

The book's cover in the original Irish edition. This book is available through Printed Project in Ireland; Artists with PhDs is rewritten and expanded for the U.S. and Canadian contexts, where theses discussions are newer and less well formed.

A painting by Ruth Waller, one of the artists whose dissertations are excerpted in the book. Waller is an example of how a contemporary practice can be informed by doctorate-level work. "As my research developed," she explains,  "I was fascinated to find myself immersed in the late medieval world-view," and she began to think about "how painters gave visual form to theology. While this naturally involved investigating the narratives depicted and the pictorial devices employed in relating these episodes, I was also led to consider how the late medieval painter might have thought about the nature of perception itself and the role of painting within this devotional cosmology."

Artists with PhDs: On the New Doctoral Degree in Studio Art

Second definitive edition, 2014

This book is intended as a comprehensive introduction to the subject. Part 1 includes definitive essays by specialists and observers of the PhD, including the first list of PhD programs around the world. Part 2 presents extracts from PhD dissertations in Japan, South Africa, Australia, and elsewhere.


Table of Contents

A Glossary of Terms

Part One: Theories and Histories

1: James Elkins, “Six Cultures of the PhD Around the World”
2: James Elkins, “List of PhD Programs Around the World”
3: Judith Mottram, “Researching the PhD in Art and Design:
        What Is It, And Why Do a PhD in Art and Design?”
4: Charles Harrison, “When Management Speaks…”
5: Victor Burgin, “Thoughts on ‘Research’ Degrees in Visual Arts Departments”
6: Timothy Emlyn Jones, “The PhD in Studio Art Revisited”
7: George Smith, “The Artist-Philosopher and the New Philosophy”
8: Iain Biggs, “Singing Across Thresholds”
9: Timothy Emlyn Jones, “The Studio Art Doctorate in America”
10: Mick Wilson, “Four Theses Attempting to Revise the Terms of a Debate”
11: Henk Slager, “Experimental Aesthetics”
12: Hilde Van Gelder and Jan Baetens, “The Future of the Doctorate in the Arts”
13: James Elkins, “Fourteen Reasons to Mistrust the PhD”
14: Judith Mottram, “Notes in Response to the Fourteen Reasons”
15: James Elkins, “Positive Ideas for PhD Programs”
16: Jonathan Dronsfield, “Writing as Practice:
        Notes on Materiality of Theory for Practice-Based PhDs
17: Mick Wilson, “Between Apparatus and Ethos:
        On Building a Research Pedagogy in the Arts

Part Two: Examples

18: Fritha Langerman (University of Cape Town, South Africa)
19: Ruth Waller (School of Art, Australian National University, Canberra; MA)
20: Kyoko Nakamura (Tokyo Geidai)
21: Yuki Matsueda (Tokyo Geidai)
22: María Mencía (Chelsea College of Art and Design /
         University of the Arts, London)
23: Uriel Orlow (University of the Arts, London)
24: Phoebe von Held (University College London / Slade School of Art)
25: Marcela Quiroga Garza (Universidad de las Américas Puebla, Mexico)
26: Qi Zhen (Central Academy of Fine Art, Beijing)

The book is on Amazon; there is also a dedicated online site, which has my chapters from the book (1, 2, 13, and 15). Studying the PhD is an endless work in progress, so all comments and suggestions are welcome via the contact form on this website.

The book was first published in a smaller edition, with fewer chapters; it does not say "Second Edition" on the cover. If you buy used copies, for example through Amazon, be careful not to get the first edition.


Sue Lovegrove's dissertation explores Aboriginal painting; it is part of the larger issue of PhDs that are in fields only tangentially related to the art student's practices. Lovegrove wrote: "My motivation and viewpoint throughout the research was as an artist rather than as a theorist, and what I hoped to do was understand how an Aboriginal woman might perceive the land around her and how she might perceive the pictorial space of the canvas. It was really an investigation in what determines Aboriginal aesthetics." The result is a new kind of practice, one that needs to be evaluated by both academic (in this case, anthropological) and artistic criteria.