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BA Hons (Oxon), MA & PhD (Courtauld Institute, Lond.)
Helen Hills is Professor of Architectural & Art History in the Department of History of Art at the University of York. Her research interests include baroque theory; architectural history & theory; architecture & feminism; religious devotion, social class, gender and sexuality; Naples and the Italian South; affect and art; monastic architecture & the veil; materiality & miracles; post-industrial cities; urbanism. A new project on silver and its affective politics in relation to Spanish imperialism in early modern Europe and Latin America will soon be underway.
Helen Hills studied Modern 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 isThe Matter of Miracles. Neapolitan Architecture & Sanctity (Manchester University Press: October 2016).
Helen Hills has wide experience of teaching in Universities, having taught at Queen's University in Canada for 9 months while completing her PhD, 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.
Helen Hills has been awarded a Leverhulme Research Fellowship for a new project, Silver: Surface and Substance. She will be on academic leave for this project 2018-19.
Hills was invited Senior Visiting Fellow at Villa I Tatti, The Harvard Center for Italian Renaissance Studies in Autumn 2017.
Helen Hills was invited to the prestigious position of Ruth and Clarence Kennedy Professor of Renaissance Studies at Smith College, Massachusetts. She took up this role, which involved giving public lectures and teaching an upper level undergraduate colloquium, in Aug-Dec 2014.
She has also served as Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Stockholm, Sweden (2010), the University of Boulder-Colorado, USA (2013), and Emory University, USA (2013).
Helen Hills has published extensively in the field of architectural history and theory, baroque art & theory, gender and sexuality, and contemporary visual culture, including scholarly monographs, edited books, chapters and articles.
The Matter of Miracles: Neapolitan baroque architecture and sanctity was published by Manchester UP in 2016.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) offers a range of ways to come across Naples outside the usual paradigms formed elsewhere.
Hills 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 and series of workshops in 2010-11.
The recipient of numerous distinguished research awards and scholarships from the AHRC, British Academy, the Leverhulme Trust 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.
Principal research interests include:
Helen is interested in hosting Postdoctoral Researchers and European Fellowships for established researchers with interests related to these fields.
Distinguished Visiting Professorships
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: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0268117X.2012.760948
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.
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"; ResearchResearch.com , for details of available scholarships. Early Modern Architecture also provides resources and funding news.
PhD Supervision in Progress
PhDs Supervised & Awarded
Helen Hills has published widely, including studies of Italian baroque architecture, urbanism, sculpture and painting to the history of affect and emotions, gendered religious devotion, the voice, baroque theory, postindustrial cities and the writing of architectural history.
Helen's Objects in Focus class (2017)
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.
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.
Students in Helen's Museology tutor group at the Bar Convent
Students in Helen's Marble module observe the brush stroke of paint on the Parthenon marbles and enjoy their ravishing beauty. BM, April 2018
"Marble" seminar breaches a bastion of male class privilege. May 2018.
BA Undergraduate modules include:
MA modules include:
A group of upper level students at Mount Grace Priory during Helen's Architecture, Gender & Sexuality module.
Critical Architecture MA Module, Field Trip to Libeskind's Imperial War Museum North, Manchester, Feb 2018
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.
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
Two of Helen's PhD students at a research event she ran at Compton Verney
I have presented papers at many national and international conferences and institutions including:
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); Art Gallery & Museum Wiesbaden, Germany.
Journal of Hispanic Studies
Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians (USA)
Object (UCL's Graduate Student On-line Publication)
The Sixteenth Century Journal
Cambridge University Press
Manchester University Press
Oxford University Press
Ashgate Publishing Company
Office hoursOn research leave this term. Please email if you need to make an appointment.