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Patricia Smyth

patsmythSenior Research Fellow

Room F01, Millburn House,
University of Warwick,
Coventry, CV4 7HS.



Patricia Smyth joined the University of Warwick in 2018 as Senior Research Fellow on the three-year AHRC-funded project, ‘Theatre and Visual Culture in the Long Nineteenth Century’. The project considers new ways of thinking about nineteenth-century stage spectacle, its meanings, its relationship to a wider visual culture, and its spectators. Patricia gained her PhD in Art History and Theory at the University of Essex in 2005 and taught Art History at the University of Nottingham from 2008 until 2018. Her teaching focuses on the connections between theatre and the visual arts in the nineteenth century.

Research Interests

As an art historian specialising in theatrical spectacle, Patricia’s research interests are in the connections between art, theatre, and visual culture in nineteenth-century France, Britain, and Australia, and in considering this material in relation to theories of inter-arts exchange and remediation. She is currently completing a book drawn from her PhD thesis, Paul Delaroche: Painting and Popular Spectacle, examining French history painting of the 1820s and 1830s as a response to an emergent popular audience and in relation to melodrama and other forms of popular visual culture, including optical entertainments such as panoramas and dioramas. Her interest in stage spectacle as part of a popular, trans-medial visual culture has been developed through articles and book chapters and through co-organizing research events, including the ‘City, Space, and Spectacle in Nineteenth-Century Performance’ conference at the Palazzo Pesaro-Papafava, Venice, in June 2018. She convened the History and Historiography working group for TaPRA (2014-2016), and is an editor of Nineteenth-Century Theatre and Film.

Research interests include:

  • history painting
  • theatrical spectacle
  • nineteenth-century visual culture, including panoramas, dioramas and other optical entertainments
  • the representation of landscape and urban environments on stage
  • word/image discourses; narrative painting
  • spectatorship, especially popular audiences
  • the expression of emotion through attitude and gesture
  • theories of inter-arts exchange and remediation


Book chapters

‘Narrative Strategies in Paul Delaroche’s Assassination of the Duc de Guise’, in Peter Cooke and Nina Lübbren (eds), Poussin to Gauguin: Narrative and Painting in France, Routledge/Ashgate, 2016, pp. 109-126.

‘Spectators and Performers: Viewing Delaroche’, in Richard Wrigley and Sarah Hibberd (eds), Art, Theatre and Opera in Paris, 1750—1850: Exchanges and Tensions, Ashgate, 2014, pp. 159-184.

Journal articles

‘Theatricality, Michael Fried, and Nineteenth-Century Art and Theatre’, Performance Research, Vol. 24, Issue 4, June 2019, special issue ‘On Theatricality’ (forthcoming)

‘Landscape and Identity in Australian Melodrama’, Journal of Victorian Culture, 21.3, September 2016.

‘The Popular Picturesque: Landscape in Dion Boucicault’s Irish Plays’, New Theatre Quarterly, 34.2, November 2016.

Editorial, ‘Theatre, Art and Visual Culture in the Nineteenth Century’, Nineteenth-Century Theatre and Film, 39:1, Summer 2012, pp. xvii – xxiii (special issue dedicated to theatrical iconography, co-edited with Professor Jim Davis).

‘Representing Authenticity: Attitude and Gesture in Delaroche and Melodrama’, Oxford Art Journal, Volume 34, Number 1, 2011, pp. 244-55.

‘Beyond the Picture Frame Stage: Late Nineteenth-Century Pictorial Theatre Posters’, Nineteenth-Century Theatre and Film, 37:2, Winter 2010, pp. 4-27.

Reviews and review essays

Review of Sarah Betzer, Ingres and the Studio: Women, Painting, History, Pennsylvania, 2012, Burlington Magazine, Volume CLV, Number 1322, May 2013, pp. 336-7.

Review of Simon Burrows, Blackmail, Scandal and Revolution, London’s French Libellistes, 1758 – 92, Manchester, 2006 and Gillian Russell, Women, Sociability and Theatre in Georgian London, Cambridge, 2007, Journal of Gender and History, Volume 21, Issue 1, April 2009, pp. 207-10.

‘Calculated Uncertainty: Georgian Theatre and the Construction of Feminine Identities’, review of Gill Perry, Spectacular Flirtations. Viewing the Actress in British Art and Theatre, 1768-1820, New Haven and London, 2007, Oxford Art Journal, Volume 31, Number 3, 2008, pp. 439-42.

Professional Associations

Co-editor of Nineteenth Century Theatre and Film
Member of the Theatre and Performance Research Association (TaPRA)
Member of the International Federation of Theatre Research (IFTR)
Member of the British Association of Victorian Studies (BAVS)


PhD (University of Essex)
MA (Courtauld Institute)
BA (Hons) (University of Nottingham)

Office Hours

Please contact me via email to arrange a meeting.