BA, MA, PhD (York)
James’ primary interest lies in institutional and ecclesiastical English architecture between the middle ages and the early modern era. Growing out of a longstanding interest in the nineteenth-century Gothic Revival, his current work attempts to recover the immediate and wider cultural contexts which influenced architectural design, in order to reassess the established methodological emphasis on style and attribution. The influence of the mediaeval built environment and its continuing validity for early modern patrons and architects, across the spectrum of building types, is of great relevance. James’ areas of interest also include the wider visual culture of early modern England, embodied in such diverse media as stained glass, engravings and illustrated frontispieces, and their value as indications of protestant identity.
James is currently one of two post-doctoral research assistants on the AHRC-funded ‘St Stephen’s Chapel, Westminster: Visual and Political Culture, 1292-1941’. Within this multi-disciplinary project, his research will examine the re-casting of St Stephen’s chapel as the seat of the House of Commons in the sixteenth century, and the evolving association between Parliament as an institution of government and the architectural space which housed it. His research’s scope will cover not only the material history of the Commons Chamber, but also its presence in contemporaneous popular culture and the successive schemes, put forward throughout the eighteenth century, for its wholesale reconstruction.
His recently awarded doctoral thesis examined private religious spaces as architectural expressions of patronal identity, set against the historical and theological disputes of the early seventeenth century. Its aims to challenge the inherited polarisations of style with specific religious factions and to reinterpret architecture as a means to express associations of pedigree and precedent, fundamental to the period, which have been substantially overlooked by subsequent commentators.
- ‘St Joseph’s, Ansdell’, True Principles: The Journal of the Pugin Society vol. 3, no 2 (Summer 2004), 37-42.
- ‘Gothic Identity and Inheritance in the year of ‘Contrasts’: John Joseph Scoles, the Jesuits and St Ignatius, Preston (1833-36)’, True Principles: The Journal of the Pugin Society vol. 3, no 5 (Autumn 2008), 5-24.
Conference and Symposia Papers
- “Dim Religious Light’ or ‘Darkness Visible’? - The Conflict between Seventeenth-Century Ecclesiastical and Architectural Historians’, History of Art Post Graduate Architectural Colloquium, Haverthwaite, Cumbria, 11-13 September 2009.
- ‘The Devotional Altarpiece, 1520-1640: Its Post Reformation Afterlife and Influence’, History of Art Post Graduate Forum, The University of York, 21 May 2010.
- ‘The Architecture of the Printed Frontispiece: Literary and Monumental Commemoration in Early Modern England’, Society for Renaissance Studies National Conference, The University of York, 16-18 July 2010.
- ‘John Cosin: The Architectural Patronage of a Stuart Divine, c.1620-1672’, Renaissance Architecture and Theory Scholars Annual Meeting, The University of Cambridge, 7 May 2011.
- ‘Protestant Antiquarianism and Parameters of the Sacred’, Holy Space and the Senses: Graduate Seminar with Professor Alexei Lidov, School of Architectural History and Theory, The University of York, 1 June 2011.
- ‘Memory and Meaning: The Cultural Place of Gothic Architecture in Seventeenth-Century England’, Recasting the Past: Early Modern to Post Modern Mediaevalism, The University of Exeter, 7-8 September 2011.
- 'Survival, Revival or Neither? - The Cultural Context of New Chapels in Seventeenth-century Oxford', Seventeenth-century Gothic: A Symposium of papers exploring the presence of Gothic Architecture in England beyond the Middle Ages, School of Architectural History and Theory, The University of York, 16 May 2012.
- ‘“This House must Appear to be His Peculiar”: Mediaeval Architecture and Protestant Identity in Early Modern England’, Transition Revisited; Continuing the Conversation, The University of York, 18 July 2012.
- ‘Building the “Beauty of Holiness”: New College Chapels in Oxford, c.1620-c.1660’, Institute of Historical Research, Religious History Seminar, 16 October 2012.
- ‘Commonwealth Conundrum: Brasenose College Chapel and Architectural Identity in Early-Modern Oxford, 1656-1663.’, New Insights into Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century British Architecture, The Society of Antiquaries (in association with the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain), Burlington House, 19 January 2013.
- ‘“Costly, Reverend and Church-wise”: John Williams and Episcopal Patronage at Lincoln College Chapel, Oxford’, Durham Early Modern Group, Institute for Mediaeval and Early Modern Studies, The University of Durham, 24 April 2013.
- ‘A Tale of Two Frontispieces: Religious Polemic and royal Policy in Jacobean Britain’, Renaissance Architecture and Theory Scholars Annual Meeting, The Warburg Institute, 8 June 2013.
- ‘“What Mean These Stones”: Religious Architecture after the Reformation and the Origins of the Gothic Revival’, Pugin Society Annual General Meeting Lecture, The Art Workers Guild, London, 14 December 2013.