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Barbara Bessac

Barbara Bessac-Khelifi PhD Researcher



About me

Barbara Bessac is in her third year of a joint PhD in History of Art and Theatre Studies, between Université Paris Nanterre (France) and the University of Warwick, funded by a doctoral scholarship from Université Paris Nanterre. She also teaches 19th and 20th century art history and works on several exhibitions projects on applied arts and theatre crafts.

Research Interests

Barbara’s research focuses on the relationship of the decorative arts to the theatrical stages of London and Paris between 1851 and 1908. The dissertation proposes to explore stage direction in its ideal conception, in its visual aspect and in its materiality, as it condenses larger artistic and historical stakes of this specific time. More than being an inspiration, theatre lead to circulations of artists and their works across the Channel, and enabled the diffusion of new decorative forms. At the crossroads of all varieties of arts, the stage became a collaborative platform between artists ; hence the connection of design and entertainment shows how theatre was a vehicle of representations of the Self and of the Other through objects, dress and decor.

Thesis Title: "Circulations of decorative arts between the stages of London and Paris (1851-1908)"

Conference Papers

  • "The Representation of French Interiors on the Victorian British Stage: Visual and Material Reinterpretations and Decorative Transfers across the Channel", University of Warwick, Visuality in the Long Nineteenth-Century, June 2019.
  • "Le processus de mise en représentation par le décor dans le lieu théâtral : Macbeth (1888), ensemble décoratif immersif et oeuvre visuelle", Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal, Canada, Ecole de Printemps organised by Réseau international de formation en histoire de l’art, May 2019.
  • "La mise en exposition du vestige théâtral : analyse de deux types de display, leur parcours de médiation et leur relation à l’espace muséal", Centre Vivant Denon, Musée du Louvre, March 2019.


Barbara BESSAC, "Paris, the performing arts and the formation of Art Nouveau" in Paul GREENHALGH (dir.), The Nature of Dreams: England and the Formation of Art Nouveau, Norwich, Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, 2020, pp.90-109.