Tilly Scantlebury - The Courtauld Institute of Art

Tilly Scantlebury

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Tilly Scantlebury

PhD student

Queer Tactics: Families and Futures in American Art from 1990 to now

Supervised by Dr Jo Applin
Funded by AHRC / CHASE 

Chapter One considers three photographic portrait series by American photographer Catherine Opie: Being and Having (1991), Domestic (1998), and Self-Portrait Series (1993-2003). Tracing Opie’s relationship with photography and classical art, as well as the LGBTQAI+ and leather community she has been part of, I argue that her portraits provide us not only with different ways to imagine bonds of kinship and maternal subjectivity, but also with a queer iconography.   

Chapter Two focuses on A.K. Summers’ graphic novel Pregnant Butch (2014), charting the ways pregnancy is culturally scripted as both feminine and heterosexual, and how masculine pregnancy complicates and expands these compulsive and oppressive associations. I also interrogate the specificity of the graphic novel and memoir, and explore why this medium is particularly suited to telling queer stories. I argue that through the medium of the graphic novel, we are not only presented with alternative versions of the pregnant body, but Summers is also able to figure new ways of seeing herself – expanding her idea of butch and our idea of pregnancy in turn.

Chapter Three takes an aesthetic shift away from the explicitly representational mode of Opie and Summers, who figured expanded notions of community and family, and turns to the abstract sculptural and textual practice of Harry Dodge. Using Dodge’s 2015 sculptural series Consent-not-to-be-a-single-being as a framework, alongside his 2020 memoir My Meteorite, I argue that Dodge’s art makes a claim for the relationality of everyone and everything, expanding notions of community and family to their most abstract and potentially radical point.


  • PhD The Courtauld Institute of Art, (2017 – present)
    AHRC/CHASE funded.
  • MA History of Art, Courtauld Institute of Art, Distinction. (2015 – 2016)
    – Special Option: ‘Sex and Violence in American Art, 1960-Now’ with Professor Mignon Nixon.
    – Thesis Title: Bisexuality & Louise Bourgeois: precarious objects and the unmanageable subject. An anxious encounter with Avenza and Avenza Revisited (1968-69).
  • BA Art History, University College London, First Class Honours. (2012 – 2015)



  • 2015, The Dean’s List: awarded to the top 5% of graduating students, to recognise academic achievement substantially above the requirements of a first class degree.
  • 2014, Frances Stracey Sessional Prize: awarded for gaining the top marks of the year.


Research Interests:

  • Feminism
  • Queer Theory
  • Bisexuality
  • Gender and Subjectivity
  • Materiality
  • Modern and Contemporary art


  • Wrote and delivered ‘Art and Queer Theory’ and ‘Art and Feminism’ for the Insights into Art History workshops (Winter 2020).
  • Art History Summer University, introduction to Art History for Year 12 students (Summer 2020).
  • BA and Graduate Diploma Foundations Course, ‘Modern and Contemporary Art’ teaching assistant, The Courtauld Institute of Art. (Summer 2019)
  • Guest lecturer, ‘Queer Subjects’ for 1st year BA and Graduate Diploma students (Summer 2019).
  • MA Core Methodology Course, The Courtauld Institute of Art (Autumn 2018).

Other Academic Activity:


Conference Papers:  

  • ‘Queering the experience of pregnancy and parenthood: A. K. Summers’ Pregnant Butch’, Second Year PhD Symposium, June 2019.
  • Being and Having, Looking and Living: Catherine Opie’s Being and Having series and the Queer Communal Experience, paper given at ‘Experience and American Art’ Conference, organised by Professor David Peters Corbett (Courtauld) and Professor Alexander Nemerov (Stanford University), March 2018.

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