Professor Helen Hills
Professor of Art History



BA Hons (Oxon), MA & PhD (Courtauld Institute, Lond.)

Helen Hills is Professor of History of Art. She studied History at the University of Oxford before turning to History of Art at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London (MA with Distinction) where she also did her Ph.D. Her doctorate study of inlaid marble decoration in Sicily later became her first book, Marmi Mischi Siciliani: Invenzione e Identità (Società Messinese di Storia Patria, 1999), the basis of a trajectory which includes over 50 articles and 8 books of which the most recent is The Matter of Miracles. Neapolitan Architecture & Sanctity (Manchester University Press: October 2016).

Helen Hills taught at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA and at the University of Manchester, UK before joining the History of Art Department at York as Anniversary Reader in 2005. She was promoted to Professor in 2008.

Academic Year 2017-18​
Helen Hills will be Senior Visiting Fellow at Villa I Tatti, The Harvard Center for Italian Renaissance Studies in Autumn 2017.
Helen Hills has been awarded a Leverhulme Research Fellowship and will be on academic leave 2017-18.

Principal research interests include: Baroque art and architecture, especially in Italy; baroque theory; architectural history and theory; gender, religion and art; materiality; silver; urbanism including post-industrialism in the UK.

In 2014 Helen Hills was Ruth and Clarence Kennedy Professor of Renaissance Studies at Smith College, Massachusetts. She has been Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Universities of Stockholm (Sweden), Boulder-Colorado (USA), and Emory (USA).

Helen Hills has published extensively in the field of architectural history and theory, baroque, gender and sexuality and contemporary visual culture, including scholarly monographs, edited books, chapters and articles. Amongst her books, Invisible City: The Architecture of Devotion in Seventeenth-Century Neapolitan Convents (Oxford University Press, 2004) was awarded the Best Book Prize in 2004 by the USA Society for the Study of Early Modern Women. Rethinking the Baroque (Ashgate, 2011) offers essays by leading scholars from art history, philosophy, and literature studies to reconsider the potential of ‘baroque’; New Approaches to Naples (2013). ​She is co-founder and present organizer of the Neapolitan Network, an exchange and meeting point for scholars of Neapolitan culture from all over the world which developed from an AHRC-funded Network in 2010. The recipient of numerous distinguished research awards and scholarships from the AHRC, British Academy and the Getty, Helen has given keynote addresses and papers at conferences and research seminars from Adelaide in Australia to Santiago in Chile to Harvard in USA.

Departmental roles

  • Director of the Sculpture Studies Research School (2016-17)
  • Co-ordinator of Erasmus / Study Abroad / Visiting Students (HoA) (2016-)
  • Research Concordat Officer (2015-present)
  • Director of Postdoctoral Research Fellows & Writing Competition (2015-present)
  • University of York Athena Swan Committee & Forum Delegate (2016-present)
  • Equality Champion 2015-16
  • Equal Opportunities Officer 2015-16
  • Research Mentor to Dr H. Vorholt
  • Director, LFA-Art History Programmes, (2013-14)
  • Chair, Departmental Research Committee (2006-7, 2008-2012)
  • Department Management Team (2008-2012)
  • Library Officer (2006-7, 2008-09)
  • Representative on Digitization programme (2007-9)

University roles

  • Member of the University of York Athena Swan Committee & Forum
  • University Research Forum (2007- 2012)
  • Advisory Committee for Arts & Humanities for Promotions (2010- present)
  • University Research Committee (2007-10)
  • Director of Postdoctoral Research, including the Writing Competition (HoA)
  • Research Concordat Officer (HoA)
  • Director of the Sculpture Studies Research School (HoA)
  • Co-ordinator of Erasmus / Study Abroad / Visiting Students (HoA)
  • Member of the University of York Athena Swan Committee & Forum



Principal research interests include:

  • Baroque art and architecture, especially in Italy
  • Baroque theory
  • architectural history and theory
  • feminism, gender, sexuality
  • religion and art
  • materiality & materials of art and architecture
  • decoration/adornment and discourses of excess
  • silver
  • urbanism including post-industrialism in the UK
  • southern Italy and meridionalismo
  • the veil
  • music & architecture
  • affect and art

Helen is interested in hosting Postdoctoral Researchers and European Fellowships for established researchers with interests related to these fields.

Distinguished Visiting Professorships

  • Smith College, Mass., USA: Ruth and Clarence Kennedy Professor in Renaissance Studies: Aug-Dec 2014
  • ​University of Colorado-Boulder, USA: Distinguished Visiting Professor: April 2014.
  • Emory University, USA: Distinguished Visiting Professor, Department of Art: April 2013
  • The University of Stockholm, Sweden, Department of History of Art: February 2008.



Helen Hills has published extensively in her fields, including eight books and over 50 articles.

8) Hills, H., The Matter of Miracles. Neapolitan Baroque Architecture & Sanctity, Manchester University Press, 2016; 656pp; 72 b&w ills; 49 col. pls.

7) Calaresu  M & H. Hills (eds), New Approaches to Naples 1500-1800: The Power of Place, Ashgate: 2013.

An outcome of AHRC-sponsored 'Exoticizing Vesuvius' Workshop Award. (‘provides a significant contribution to the study of Naples’s cultural history’ Renaissance Quarterly).

6) Hills, H., (ed.), Rethinking the Baroque, Aldershot: Ashgate, 2011. 243pp. 25 col. pls. 40 b&w ills.With essays by leading scholars from art history, philosophy, literature studies to reconsider the potential of ‘baroque’ (Mieke Bal, Andrew Benjamin, Howard Caygill, Tom Conley, Alina Payne). With support from the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art for the plates in colour.‘This book’s greatest contribution is that it prompts historians of Baroque art and architecture to look again at the term and its implications, and with the aid of Deleuze’s ‘fold’ reassess the period through the prism of its very construction and history as an archive worthy of study.’ (Burlington Magazine).'Rethinking the Baroque from a serious, scholarly point of view, is a well- needed enterprise, and this collection of essays by some of the most important thinkers of our time marvelously tackles the task. (Renaissance Quarterly). ‘Hills’s purpose in assembling such a vibrant and diffuse collection of essays on the baroque was to ‘trouble the smooth waters of a linear historicism’ (p. 91), and this collection certainly succeeds in doing that and building on Walter Benjamin’s complicating notions of historical time and the nature of fate, as well as expanding understandings of baroque culture and rejecting early modern pre-eminence.’ EV Devlin (Univ of Cambridge), The Seventeenth Century 28:1, 100-103:

5) Invisible City: The Architecture of Devotion in Seventeenth-Century Neapolitan Convents, Oxford University Press, 268 pp.44 b. & w. & 10 col. plates. 2004. Best Book Prize, 2004, Society for the Study of Early Modern Women, USA; Weiss /Brown Award in support of outstanding works of scholarship of European culture pre- 1700, The Newberry Library, Chicago. Widely and favourably reviewed in academic journals in the UK, USA and Italy, including Napoli Nobilissima (‘indispensable’); Women’s Art Journal; Rivista Storica Italiana; Reviews of New Books (‘Hills’ extraordinary study is a nuanced and innovative incarnation of the secular city from its sacred recesses that should have broad appeal and wide-ranging influence. Invisible City is a brilliant, stunning book’); Church History (‘a very important exploration of the complex nexus between sacred architecture, gender relations, and lineage politics…wonderful’), Renaissance Quarterly; Confraternitas (‘a meticulously researched and well-crafted analysis of the complex interrelationships between gender, social class, and monastic architecture […] What results from this masterful synthesis is a model for excavating the complexities of premodern convent life and suggestions of intriguing possibilities for future research’), Urban History (‘pioneering’); and the Institute of Historical Research on-line book reviews (‘marvelously interesting’). Reviewers noted that the book will stimulate scholarship in its own and related fields and approaches.

Impact (a): This book formed the inspiration for Clausura Sconfinata, a performance of contemporary dance and early modern conventual music, directed by Julia Pond, performed by the prestigious New York dance company, the Isadora Duncan Dance Company and the Cappella Artemisia (an early modern music ensemble based in Bologna, Italy), world-premiered in Narni, Italy in 2009 and subsequently performed elsewhere in Italy.

Impact (b): This book is cited as inspiration for Sarah Dunant's award-winning novel Sacred Hearts (Virago, 2009) 'A masterfully created tale of convent life' (The Guardian).

4) P. Gouk & H. Hills (eds), Representing Emotions: New Connections in the Histories of Art, Music and Medicine, Aldershot: Ashgate, 2005. ‘important […] well-ordered, well-edited, and contemplative about its role in the production of histories of emotions’ (Medical History), and as having ‘more riches here than I am able to describe’ (Sixteenth Century Journal).

3) Helen Hills (ed.), Architecture and the Politics of Gender in Early Modern Europe, Aldershot: Ashgate, 2003. ‘Pioneering’ in proposing that ‘the built environment is a more fruitful subject of enquiry for gender (than painting), arguing that architecture organises all aspects of life spatially through the body’ (Urban History). The Women’s Art Journal noted this collection as ‘innovative’, and that I brought together all the leading authors in this area.

2) M. Crinson, H. Hills, & N. Rudd, (eds.), Fabrications: New Art and Urban Memory in Manchester, Manchester: UMiM, 2002.

1) H Hills, Marmi Mischi Siciliani: Invenzione e Identità (Inlaid polychromatic marble decoration in early modern Sicily: Invention and identity), Società Messinese di Storia Patria, Scholarly monograph series, Messina, 1999. 457pp.


Funded Speakers to York

Helen was responsible for bringing to York Professor Joseph Connors, Director Villa I Tatti for the Patrides Lecture; Professor  Andrew Benjamin (Monash University , Australia) as Distinguished Visiting Speaker in January 2011 and Professor Alexei Lidov, Distinguished Visiting Professor 1 May-30 June 2011.



  • Leverhulme Research Fellowship 2017-18: Helen will be on research leave from Sep 2017 until Jan 2019


Research group(s)


  • 2017 Autumn: Senior Visiting Fellow: Villa I Tatti (Harvard Centre for Renaissance Studies)
  • 2017-18: Leverhulme Research Fellowship
  • 2012-14: British Academy Small Grant (£9875)
  • 2008-09: PI for AHRC Workshops Award ‘Exoticizing Vesuvius’ (Topography & Culture in Neapolitan History c.1500-present: with Dr M Calaresu, Cambridge
  • 2008-09: AHRC Research Leave Scheme Award 2008-09
  • 2005-07: British Academy Research Readership
  • 2003: Balsdon Fellowship, British School in Rome
  • 2002: AHRB Matching Leave Award
  • 2000-02: ‘Urban Memory in Manchester: the Fabrication of the Post-Industrial’, AHRB, £79,296. With Mark Crinson & Frank Salmon
  • 1998-99: ‘Convent architecture, gender, and power’, J. Paul Getty Postdoctoral Fellow in the History of Arts and the Humanities
  • 1998-99, Research Fellowship at the Centre Canadien d'Architecture. Awarded but declined
  • 1997: ‘Mapping Early Modern Italian Cities: Maps as Inscriptions of Power’, Review Committee for Grants from the Endowment Committee of the College for Scholarly Publications and Performances, UNC-CH
  • many small awards from UNC-CH; University of Manchester & University of York


Helen welcomes enquiries from students wanting to undertake research in areas related to her research interests (especially baroque architecture, Italian baroque sculpture & painting, relationships between holiness & architecture or genders /sexualities and urbanism / architecture). She is interested in hosting Postdoctoral Research fellows and European Marie Curie Fellows who are undertaking research in any area connected to her own research interests.


Prospective PhD candidates may like to consult the History of Art Funding webpage,  The British School at Rome; Italian Cultural Association's website "Il Circolo"; , for details of available scholarships. Early Modern Architecture also provides resources and funding news.


PhD Supervision in Progress

  • Valeria Viola, Chapels in Aristocratic Domestic Residences in 18C Palermo'. Commenced Oct 2016.
  • Martin Nixon, ‘The Baroque Towns built in the Val di Noto Area of Sicily 1700-1780’. Awarded the 2011 John Fleming Prize for research in Eastern Sicily. Viva: April 2017: Minor corrections.
  • Josephine Neil, 'Is a visual apophaticism at work in Spanish and Neapolitan Counter-Reformation Painting, and how did it influence the way divine presence and action was perceived?' Department of Theology and Religious Studies, King's College London. April 2012-present. PhD co-supervisor with Prof. Ben Quash.
  • Maria-Anna Aristova, ‘The Problem of Ornament in Early Modern Architecture’. October 2014- present.


PhDs Supervised & Awarded

  • Bogdan Cornea, '"Why tear me from myself?": The Depiction of Flaying in the Art of Jusepe de Ribera': External Examiner Rose Marie San Juan (UCL): PhD Awarded 2015; University of York Humanities Research Centre  Postdoctoral Fellowship: 2016-17

  • Elizabeth Chew, PhD on 'Female art patronage and collecting in 17th-century Britain' (advisor 1995-99) Examinations passed 1995; PhD awarded Dec 1999. Now Curator at Thomas Jefferson Museum at Monticello, USA.
  • Alex Pilcher, 'Mythologies of Foundation in Renaissance Florence, c.1450-c.1550', Feb 1998-Sep 1998 (PhD co-supervisor). PhD submitted Oct 98. PhD awarded 1999 
  • Alice Sanger, 'Women of Power: Studies in the patronage of Medici Grand Duchesses and Regentesses 1656-1650'. Feb 1998-May 1999 (submitted) (PhD co-supervisor ). PhD awarded 2000; now Lecturer at the Open University
  • V. Whitfield, 'Portraiture of industrialists in 18thC Britain', temporary supervisor during illness of Prof. Marcia Pointon, Nov 00-Jul 01. PhD awarded Jun 02 
  • Alessandra Pompili, 'An insula in Ostia'. Aug 03-Feb 05 (PhD co-supervisor with Prof. R Ling). Awarded PhD Jul 07
  • Charlotte Poulton, 'The representation of music in early modern Italian painting' (Part-time USA) Viva Examination Oct 2009: PhD awarded with minor corrections (External Examiner: Professor Robert Kendrick, Department of Music, University of Chicago). Lecturer in Art Histor, Brigham Young University
  • Helen served on PhD committees at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and supervised successful completion of PhD Baroque Examinations of a further 14 students


Selected publications

Helen Hills has published widely in History of Art and related disciplinary and interdisciplinary fields, including 8 books and over 47 articles.




Full publications list

Scholarly and Refereed Journal Articles

  • 'Beyond Mere Containment: The Neapolitan Treasury Chapel of San Gennaro and the Matter of Materials', California Italian Studies Journal, 2012, 3 (1), pp.1-21.
  • 'The Uses of Images: TJ Clark & WG Sebald', Melilah: Manchester Journal of Jewish Studies, 2012, vol.2, pp.57-80.  
  •  ‘Urbanism in Siena: A Polite Tale of Patronage, Profit and Power’, Art History, Summer 2010, pp.551-554.
  •  ‘The Face is a mirror of the soul: frontispieces and the production of sanctity in post-Tridentine Naples’, Art History, vol. 31(4), 2008, pp. 547-574.*
  • ‘Demure Transgression: Portraying Female “Saints” in post-Tridentine Italy’, Early Modern Women: An Interdisciplinary Journal, vol.3, Fall 2008, pp. 153-208.*
  • ‘The Baroque: Beads in A Rosary or Folds in Time’, Fabrications – Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians ANZ, vol. 17(2), 2008, pp. 48-71.*
  • ‘Indeterminacy and Architectural History: Deterritorializing Cosimo Fanzago’, field, vol. 1, September 2007,
  • ‘Too Much Propaganda’ Oxford Art Journal, vol. 29 (3), 2006, pp. 446-452.
  • ‘What’s In a Relic?’, Oxford Art Journal, vol. 28 (1), 2005, pp. 119-124.
  • ‘“Enamelled with the Blood of a Noble Lineage”: Tracing Noble Blood and Female Holiness in Early Modern Neapolitan Convents and their Architecture’, Church History: Studies in Christianity and Culture, 73(1), 2004, pp. 1-40.*
  • ‘The Veiled Body: within the folds of early modern Neapolitan convent architecture’, Oxford Art Journal, vol 27 (3), 2004, pp. 269-290.*
  • ‘Deciphering the Hieroglyphics of the Modern Metropolis', Oxford Art Journal, vol.26 (2), 2003, pp. 181-186.
  • ‘The Fetishized Past: Post-industrial Manchester and Interstitial Spaces', with Tyrer, P., Visual Culture in Britain, vol.3 (2), 2002, pp. 103-118.*
  • ‘Cities and Virgins: Female Aristocratic Convents in Early Modern Naples and Palermo', Oxford Art Journal, vol.22 (1), 1999, pp. 29-54.*
  • ‘The Road Not Taken', Oxford Art Journal, vol. 20(1), 1997, pp. 95-99.
  • ‘Villa Palagonia in Bagheria near Palermo', Daidalos, 28, June 1998, pp. 34-44.
  • ‘Centri e Periferie: Decorazioni ecclesiastiche in marmi intarsiati nella Palermo del XVII secolo', Arte Cristiana, 1996, pp. 405-419.*
  • ‘Mapping the Early Modern City', Urban History, 23, 1996, pp. 145-170.*
  • ‘Spanish Influence on Sicilian Baroque Architecture', Ricerche di Storia dell'Arte, 58, 1996, pp. 65-95.*
  • ‘The Making of an Art-Historical Super Power?’, Oxford Art Journal, 18(1), 1995, pp. 137-140.
  • ‘Iconography & Ideology: Aristocracy, Immaculacy and Virginity in Seventeenth-century Palermo', Oxford Art Journal, Vol.17(2), 1994, pp. 16-31.


  • 'The Neapolitan Seggi as Patrons of Religious Architecture (PDF  , 867kb)', in Grit Heidemann, Tanja Michalsky (eds): Ordnungen des sozialen Raumes. Die Quartieri, Sestieri und Seggi in den fruehneuzeitlichen Staedten Italiens, Berlin: Reimer 2012, pp.159-188.
  • ‘”The Face is a mirror of the soul’: Frontispieces and the production of sanctity in post-tridentine Naples’, in Art and Architecture in Naples, 1266-1713, eds. Cordelia Warr & Janis Elliott, Wiley-Blackwell, 2010, 125-151.*
  • ‘How to Look like a Counter-Reformation Saint’, in Exploring Cultural Histories: Essays in Honour of Peter Burke, M. Calaresu, F. De Vivo, J.P. Rubies (eds), Farnham: Ashgate, 2010, 207-230.
  • ‘“The Face is a mirror of the soul”: Frontispieces and the Production of Sanctity in Post-Tridentine Naples’, in Art and Architecture in Naples, 1266-1713, eds. Cordelia Warr & Janis Elliott, Wiley-Blackwell, 2010, 125-151.
  • ‘The Housing of Institutional Architecture: searching for a domestic holy in post-Tridentine Italian convents’, in eds. S Cavallo, S Evangelisti, Domestic and Institutional Interiors, Ashgate, 2009, 119-152.
  • ‘Abitare l’architettura istituzionale: alla ricerca del sacro domestico nei monasteri post-tridentini italiani’, in ed. Candace Smith, Soror Mea Sponsa Mea: Arte e musica nei conventi femminili in Italia tra Cinque e Seicento, Bologna: Il Poligrafo, 2009, 23-48. Winner of the 2010 SSEMW (USA) Arts and Media Project Award competition
  • ‘« Négociation » du pouvoir en Italie post-Tridentine : gender, architecture, et puissance’, in Femmes de pouvoir et pouvoir des femmes dans l’Occident medieval et moderne, eds. Armel Nayt-Dubois & Emmanuelle Santinelli-Foltz: Lez Valenciennes n.41-42, 2009, 151-162.*
  • ‘Nuns and Relics: Spiritual Authority in post-Tridentine southern Italy’, in ed. Cordula van Wyhe, Female Monasticism in Early Modern Euurope, Ashgate, 2008, 11-39.
  • ‘Architecture of Difference: The Secret of the Religious Architectural Body’, in Gender, Religion, Human Rights in Europe, Rome: Herder, 245-262, 2006.
  • ‘Architecture and Spiritual Life in Tridentine Naples’, in Valerio, A., (ed.), I Luoghi della Memoria: Istituti religiosi femminili a Napoli dal IV al XVI secolo, FPV per la Storia delle Donne: Naples, 35-51, 2006.
  • 'Alberti and Affetti: Architecture and Edification’, in Gouk P & Hills, H. (ed)., Representing Emotions: New Connections in the Histories of Art, Music and Medicine, Aldershot: Ashgate, 89-108, 2004.
  • ‘Towards Histories of Emotions’, with P. Gouk, in Gouk P & Hills, H. (ed)., Representing Emotions: New Connections in the Histories of Art, Music and Medicine, Aldershot: Ashgate,15-34, 2004.
  •  ‘Theorizing the relationship between architecture and gender in early modern Europe’, in Hills, H. (ed.), Architecture and the Politics of Gender in Early Modern Europe. Aldershot: Ashgate, 3-23, 2003.
  •  ‘Half-Forgotten Streets: Architecture and Amnesia in Manchester’, in Crinson, M, Hills, H., & Rudd, N., (ed.), Fabrications: New Art and Urban Memory in Manchester, Manchester: UMiM, 32-39, 2002.
  • ‘Architecture as Metaphor for the Body: the Case of Female Aristocratic Convents in Early Modern Italy', in Durning, L., and Wrigley, R. (ed.), Gender & Architecture: History, Interpretation, Practice, Chichester & New York, John Wiley & Sons., 67-112, 2000.
  • ‘Monasteri Femminili aristocratici a Napoli e a Palermo nella prima età moderna e la "Conventualizzazione" della Città', in Fiume, G., (ed.), Il santo patrono e la città: San Benedetto il Moro: culti, devozioni, strategie di età moderna, Venice: Marsilio, Venice, 68-80, 2000.
  • ‘The Convent in the City; the Choir in the Convent: Female convent churches in Baroque Palermo and Naples', in de Moura Sobral, L. & Booth, D., Struggle for Synthesis: The Total Work of Art in the 17th and 18th Centuries: Proceedings of Conference, Braga 1996, vol. I, Lisbon: Ministerio da Cultura, 177-194, 1999.
  • ‘Convents in the city; choirs in the convents: Aristocratic female convents and urbanism in early modern Palermo and Naples' in Trigilia, L., (ed.), Annali del Barocco in Sicilia: Pompeo Picherali: Architettura e Città fra XVII e XVIII Secolo, Rome, 61-76, 1998.
  • ‘Commonplaces: the Woman in the Street: Text and Image in the work of Jenny Holzer and Barbara Kruger', in Mills, S., (ed.), Language and Gender: Interdisciplinary Perspectives, (New York: Longman, 1995) pp. 240-256.
  • ‘The Immaculate Conception in Seventeenth-Century Palermitan Iconography', Archivio Storico Siciliano, ser.IV, vol.X, 1994, pp. 181-230.*
  • 'La Cappella del Crocifisso nella Cattedrale di Monreale in Madonna', M.L., & Trigilia, T., (ed.), Barocco Mediterraneo: Sicilia, Lecce, Sardegna, Spagna, (Rome: Istituto poligrafico e Zecca dello Stato, Libreria dello Stato, 1992) pp.61-76.

All other publications

  • ‘Bramshill House, Hampshire', Country Life, Part I Oct.10, 1985, pp.1011-1016 & Part II, Oct 17, 1985, pp.1095-1099.
  • ‘The Art and Architecture of Sicily', Blue Guide to Sicily, London: A& C Black, New York: WW Norton, 1988, 12-27.
  • Review of L Nochlin, The Politics of Vision and B Taylor's Eve & the New Jerusalem Women's Art Magazine No.46, pp.26-27
  • ‘The Art and Architecture of Sicily', Blue Guide to Sicily, revised version, A& C Black, New York: WW Norton, 1993, 14-30.
  • ‘Andrea Pozzo’, ‘Angelo Italia’, ‘Baldassare Longhena’; ‘S Maria della Salute, Venice’; ‘the Quattro Canti, Palermo’, International Dictionary of Architects and Architecture, London & Chicago: St James’ Press, 1993, pp.524-527; 598-9; 693-4; 713-16.
  • ‘Palermo: History & Urban Development’ , Encyclopaedia of Italian Renaissance and Mannerist Art: Vol. 2: Macagnino to Zucchi, Grove Encyclopaedia of European Art, London: Macmillan, 2000, 840-6 (& 6 other entries).
  • ‘Form Follows Funding’, review of Amelia Jones (ed.), The Feminism and Visual Culture Reader, Routledge: London & New York, second edition, 2010,

Reviews of Single Academic Books:

Helen has reviewed numerous books for a range of journals including:

Church History, Sixteenth century Studies, Journal of European History, Women's Art Magazine, The Times Higher Education Supplement, The Sociological Review, Word & Image, Art History, Oxford Art Journal, Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Renaissance Quarterly, Burlington Magazine, Journal of Early Modern History.

Exhibition Reviews:

  • 1994: `The Baroque in Portugal Exhibition, National Gallery of Art, Washington DC', Eighteenth Century Studies, May, pp.487-490


  • Co-organizer & Co-curator, Fabrications: New Art and Urban Memory in Manchester. Included commisioning 6 new pieces of art from 6 contemporary artists. Cube Gallery, Manchester. 11 September - 2 November 2002.


  • Miraculous Affects: Inventing Corpses in Baroque Italy
    Opening Keynote Lecture,'Emotion, Ritual and Power in Europe: 1200 to the Present'. International Collaboratory held at the University of Adelaide, Australia​ in February 2014. A podcast of Helen's keynote address is available:

TV and Radio:

  • ​The Blood Miracle of San Gennaro
    An interview discussion with Ewart Shaw ​on Radio Adelaide ​10 February 2014 is available here.





 Helen's students from 'Critical Architecture' module 2016

Helen's MA students examine baroque cabinets at the V&A



A group of upper level students at Mount Grace Priory during Helen's Architecture, Gender & Sexuality module.

A group of upper level students at Mount Grace Priory during Helen's Architecture, Gender & Sexuality module.

I have taught at all levels at the Universities of Keele and Manchester in the UK, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the USA, and Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada.

Helen Hill's tutor group at the Bar Convent

Students in Helen's Museology tutor group at the Bar Convent

BA Undergraduate modules include:

  • The City & the Subject in Early Modern Europe
  • Architecture, Gender and Sexuality
  • Critical Approaches to the Baroque
  • Seeing the City
  • Architectural Theory
  • Architecture & Memory
  • Historiography & Theory
  • Introduction to Architecture
  • Masculinities & Femininities in Baroque Art
  • Space as Property and the Properties of Space



MA modules include:

  • Rethinking the Baroque
  • Advanced Problems in Baroque Art
  • Redeeming Matter
  • Space as Property and the Properties of Space



A group of upper level students at Mount Grace Priory during Helen's Architecture, Gender & Sexuality module.


Helen welcomes inquiries for potential PhDs in line with her research interests. She is also happy to host Postdoctoral Researchers and European Fellowships for established reseachers with similar interests.


Receiving the HRC Prize

Bogdan Cornea, one of Helen's PhD students, receives a prize for his presentation on his PhD topic at the Humanities Research Centre, University of York, in July 2014. Photograph Ian Martindale

Other teaching

Visiting Professorships



Two of Helen's PhD students at a research event she ran at Compton Verney

External activities

Editorial duties

Consultant Editor of the Open Arts Journal (Open University Press): Feb 2013-present

Scientific Committee Member Arte - Architettura - Città e Territorio.(with Alicia Cámara Muñoz (UNED – Madrid) Maria Concetta Di Natale (Università di Palermo) Marco Rosario Nobile (Università di Palermo) Dany Sandron (Université de Paris - Sorbonne)

Regular reader for
Art Bulletin, Art History, Journal of Hispanic Studies, Konsthistorisk tidskrift, Eighteenth-Century Studies; The Sixteenth Century Journal; Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians (USA);Art Bulletin; Sculpture Journal, Object (UCL's Graduate Student On-line Publication); Manchester University Press; Oxford University Press; Ashgate Publishing Company.

Invited talks and conferences

Distinguished Visiting Professorships

  • Smith College, Mass., USA: Ruth and Clarence Kennedy Professor in Renaissance Studies: Aug-Dec 2014
  • University of Colorado-Boulder, USA: Distinguished Visiting Professor: 5-15 April 2014
  • Emory University, USA: Distinguished Visiting Professor, Department of Art: April 2013​

Helen has presented papers at many national and international conferences and institutions including the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Rome, Italy; CAA (USA); Association of Art Historians (GB); EAHN; Group for Study of Early Modern Women; South East College Arts Conference (USA); University of Essex, UK; the Courtauld Institute of Art, London; University of Warwick; University of Reading, UK; University of Oxford (Renaissance Research Seminar); University of Manchester, UK; University of Sussex, UK; Manchester Metropolitan University; Department of History of Art, University of Cambridge; University of Leeds (early modern Research seminar); University of Liverpool; Clark Institute, USA; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA; UCL-Courtauld Early Modern Research Seminar; University of Valenciennes, France; University of Stockholm, Sweden; University of Santiago, Chile; Palazzone Cortona (Harvard, Scuola Normale Pisa & EPHE, Paris), Italy; Universität der Künste, Berlin; V & A Museum, London; National Gallery, London; British School in Rome, Italy; Queen’s University, Canada; SE College Art Conference USA; Centro Internazionale di Studi sul barocco in Sicilia, Italy; Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Rome, Italy; Istituto Portugues do Patrimonio Arquitectonico, Lisbon, Portugal; Group for Early Modern Cultural Studies (Pittsburgh) USA; Università degli Studi, Palermo, Italy; Conference of Urban Historians, Berlin; Villa Le Balze (Georgetown University), Florence, Italy; Southern Methodist University, Dallas TX, USA; Roma Tre University, Italy; Ecole Française de Rome, Italy; Bibliotheca Hertziana, Rome, Italy; Università degli Studi, Bologna, Italy; La Sapienza, Rome; Antwerp University; Fondazione Valerio per la Storia delle Donne, Naples, Italy; Meadows Museum, Dallas, Texas (USA); Harvard University, USA; Duke University, USA; College Art Association (New York) 2013; Università degli di Studi di Palermo; University of Leicester; Emory University, USA; University of Adelaide (ARC Centre of Excellence for History of Emotions), Australia; La Sapienza-Swedish Institute & Accademia di San Luca, Rome, Italy; IHR, London; Royal Holloway, London; University of Colorado-Boulder, USA; Smith College, Mass., USA; Association of Art Historians (UEA); University of Leeds​; Voglia d'Italia, Barcelona; Feminist Readings Conference (Leeds); Open University (London); Wiesbaden Art Gallery & Museum (University of Mainz), Germany; Hull Literary and Philosophical Society (Hull Year of Culture, 2017); Musée Cognaq-Jay, Paris (Université Sorbonne Nouvelle; Université Paris Nanterre; Institut universitaire de France).

Recent Talks:

  • ‘Veiling the Voice of Architecture’ 30-minute paper at International Conference Feminist Readings 2: Theory, practice and politics of reading today 15-16 April 2016. University of Leeds. UK 
  • ‘Italian Baroque Architecture: The Matter of Miracles’, public lecture for Hull Year of Culture 2017:, organized by the Hull Literary & Philosophical Society, The Grand Hotel, Hull, 24 Jan 2017. Audience of ca.250 people. 
  • ‘Sanctity and the Problem of Style’ at Naples as Laboratory. Stylistic Currents, Artistic Rivalry and Aesthetic Effect in Neapolitan Baroque Painting, 9-11 February 2017. Wiesbaden Art Museum, Germany. Organized by Prof Elisabeth Oy-Marra & Dr Heiko Damm, University of Mainz.
  • ‘Fleeting Affects: Neapolitan Baroque Silver’ at Objets Nomades: Circulations, appropriations & identities (1500-1800), Université Sorbonne Nouvelle/Université Paris Nanterre / Université Paris Diderot. Held at Université Sorbonne Nouvelle, Châtea d’Ecouen & Musée Cognacq-Jay, Paris. 2-4 March 2017. 
  • ‘The Matter of Silver: Excess and Redemption in Spanish Naples’, York Evening Decorative & Fine Art Society, Shephards Hall, York. 8 March 2017. 
  • ‘Architecture & Trauma: Silver and salvation in baroque Naples’, The Walker Lecture, British School in Rome. March 2017.
  • Lecture as part of the Hull Year of Culture on 24 January 2016:
  • Miraculous Materiality, Baroque Excess, Silver Faces: Whatever next?
    Research Seminar, History of Art Department, Warwick University, May 2014.
  • Silver and the sacred in baroque Italy: rethinking materiality and the sacred
    Graduate Seminar at the University of Colorado, Boulder, April 2014.
    Sponsored by the History of Art Department and Visiting Scholars Program, University of Colorado-Boulder, USA.

  • Materiality and Affect:  relics and inventio in baroque Italy
    Public Lecture at the University of Colorado Boulder, USA, April 2014.
    Sponsored by the History of Art department and Visiting Scholars Program, University of Colorado-Boulder, USA

  • L'invenzione e la rivelazione del monastero femminile 
    Keynote at Monache Romane: Fra' doppi muri'
     (Rome, Accademia Nazionale di San Luca, March 2014). Organized by The Swedish Institute of Classical Studies, La Sapienza University, and the Accademia di San Luca in Rome

  • La Cappella del Tesoro di San Gennaro. Una sfida agli storici dell'arte?
    Studi e prospettive di ricerche sull'età barocca in EuropaSeminario di Studi internazionali, Universita' degli di Studi di Palermo: May 2013.

  • The Miraculous Matter of Neapolitan baroque
    Transmaterialities: Materials, Process, HistoryCollege Art Association (New York): February 2013.
    Session organized by Dr Richard Checketts (Leeds) and Dr Marta Ajmar (V&A).

  • Inventio, relics and the saint: Inventing the body in baroque Italian art
    Holy Relics and Cursed Bodies Symposium, Duke University, USA: Oct 2012.

  • Rethinking Holy Space Research Symposium
    With Professor Alexei Lidov and Dr Jas' Elsner. University of York: 22 June 2011


Photo: Helen Hills

Conferences Organised:

Media coverage

  • Helen was interviewed by Ewart Shaw on radio Adelaide (10 Feb 2014) talking about bloody miracles.  Part of the interview is available here.
  • Helen was one of 3 specialists talking about 'The Baroque' with Melvyn Bragg: In Our Time with Melvyn Bragg: 'The Baroque Movement', BBC Radio 4, 20 & 21 November 2008, (2009).
  • Helen was featured on Night Waves talking about the 'baroque' as part of Radio 3's "Baroque Spring".


International Research Evaluations

  • AHRC Peer Review Panel Member, 2010-2014
  • Jun 2012-present: Invited Member of the Italian National Evaluation of research Quality Exercize Peer Review

  • University of Roma-La Sapienza, Rome, External Academic Advisor to the Department of History, Cultures & Religions, Italy: Jan 2011-present

  • History of Art expert member of the Research Quality Assessment panel (Akreditacija-znanost, Zagreb) for three national research institutes in Croatia: Croatian Institute for Research in History; Institute for Research in Art History; Croatian Institute for Research in Archaeology.  May 2011
  • Invited Member of the Irish Research Council International Assessment Board (for postgraduate Awards). April 2013-present.

Curatorial Experience

  • Co-organizer & Co-curator, Fabrications: New Art and Urban Memory in Manchester. Included commisioning 6 new pieces of art from 6 contemporary artists. Cube Gallery, Manchester. 11 September - 2 November 2002.‌


Contact details

Helen Hills
Professor of History of Art
Department of History of Art
Room V/238

Tel: 01904 323428
Fax: 01904 327427

Office hours 
Tuesdays 10.00-11.00 and Wednesdays 11.00-11.30 (apart from Week 4 whenHhelen's Office Hours will be held on Thursday 11 May 14.00-15.00). Please do NOT email Helen for an appointment, but sign up on the lists on her door