Carey Gibbons - The Courtauld Institute of Art

Carey Gibbons

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Carey Gibbons

PhD student

Thesis: ‘The Limits of the Body in Victorian Illustration: Arthur Hughes and Frederick Sandys’

Supervised by Prof. Caroline Arscott

My dissertation research covers the field of Victorian illustration, with a focus on Arthur Hughes and Frederick Sandys, two artists associated with the Pre-Raphaelites. I am discussing their illustrations together and in relation to the texts they illustrated in order to explore different approaches to issues of identity, subjectivity, and bodily representation from 1850-1915. Hughes and Sandys construct a subject that is continually resituated, as stable categories and relationships—such as masculine and feminine, animate and inanimate, adult and child, and mind and body—are repeatedly challenged. My research examines the ways in which the two artists sought to overcome the limits of the body, connecting their artistic practices to explorations of materiality and substance, the body’s metamorphic potential, the body’s ability to escape its own boundaries, and possibilities for expansion or replication. My approach is very interdisciplinary, not simply engaging with the illustrations but also analyzing the accompanying texts—including works by Christina Rossetti, George MacDonald, Alfred Tennyson, and Thomas Hughes—and discussing the images in relation to Victorian science, religion, and gender constructions. The dissertation also covers other imagery of the period, ranging from weather maps to astronomical drawings, and considers the influence of other British artists such as Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Blake, and Edward Lear.


  • M.A., History of Art, Courtauld Institute of Art, 2010
  • B.A., Columbia University, 2003 (Major: Art History, Concentration: Anthropology)


Research interests

  • Victorian art
  • illustration
  • drawing
  • prints
  • book arts
  • visual and material culture
  • fantasy and children’s literature

Conference papers

  • “Feminizing and Vitalizing the Illustrated Gift Book: Arthur Hughes’s Illustrations for Tennyson’s Enoch Arden” at “Material Cultures/Material Worlds,” Nineteenth-Century Studies Association annual conference, Boston (March 27, 2015)
  • “Grasping the Elusive: Pre-Raphaelite Personifications of the Wind and Victorian Weather Maps” at the College Art Association annual conference, NYC, Session: “Science Is Measurement? Nineteenth-Century Science, Art, and Visual Culture” (Feb. 12, 2015)
  • Bringing the Book to Life: Arthur Hughes’s Illustrations for Tennyson’s Enoch Arden” at “Readers, Purveyors, Creators, and Users: Studying Victorian Print Consumption” conference, Moore Institute for Research in the Humanities and Social Studies, National University of Ireland, Galway (June 17, 2014)
  • “Mapping the Invisible and the Multivalent: Arthur Hughes’s Illustrations for George MacDonald’s At the Back of the North Wind” at the Modern Language Association annual convention, Chicago, Session: “Pre-Raphaelite, Aesthetic, and Fin de Siècle Children’s Literature” (January 11, 2014)
  • “Rethinking Art and the Book: The Rise of Altered Book Sculptures in Contemporary Exhibition Spaces and Online Marketplaces” at the “Resurrecting the Book” conference, Library of Birmingham, UK (Nov. 16, 2013)
  • “The Angelic and the Astronomical in Arthur Hughes’s Periodical Illustrations” at “Pre-Raphaelitism: Past, Present, and Future” conference, Ashmolean Museum and St. John’s College, Oxford, UK (Sept. 14, 2013)
  • “Desire and Appetite in Illustrations by Arthur Hughes and Frederick Sandys for Christina Rossetti” at the Courtauld Institute of Art Annual Postgraduate Symposium, London (March 7, 2013)
  • “The Persistence of the Multivalent Female in Illustrations for George MacDonald’s At the Back of the North Wind from 1871 – the Present” at “Victorian Persistence: Persistence in/of Victorian Culture” conference, Université Paris Diderot (Dec. 7, 2012)
  • “Reimagining the Form of the Book: Su Blackwell’s Book Sculptures” at the “Beyond the Book” conference, University of Roehampton, London (Nov. 10, 2012)
  • “Searching for the Self: Arthur Hughes’s Illustrations for George MacDonald’s Phantastes,” Research Forum, Courtauld Institute of Art, London (May 21, 2012)

Recent publications

Book chapters

  • “Reimagining the Form of the Book: Su Blackwell’s Book Sculptures,” in Beyond the Book: Transforming Children’s Literature, eds. Bridget Carrington and Jennifer Harding (Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2014).

Exhibition reviews

Other academic activity

  • Co-organizer, Courtauld Institute of Art 2013 Postgraduate Symposium, London
  • Member of: Association of Art Historians, College Art Association, Ninteenth-Century Studies Association, British Association for Victorian Studies, Printing Historical Society, Association of Print Scholars, Bibliographical Society of America, SHARP (Society for the History of Authorship, Reading, and Publishing)

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