Job title: Lecturer in History of Art

Role: Undergraduate Programme Director (History of Art)


Office address: Room M.01, North East Studio Building

Contact time: By appointment

Research outputs: Dr Michelle Foot on Edinburgh Research Explorer

Dr Michelle Foot is Lecturer in Nineteenth Century Art, specialising in British and European art in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Her research interests include Spiritualism, Occulture, Scottish art and the Celtic Revival.

Michelle joined the History of Art department in August 2016. She was awarded a PhD from the University of Aberdeen in 2016 for her thesis on 'Modern Spiritualism and Scottish Art between 1860 and 1940', which she is now preparing for publication with Bloomsbury Academic Publishers. Her next research project explores the role of occultism in the Celtic Revival of the late nineteenth-century and will result in a second monograph. She has presented her research at both national and international conferences and has been invited to give public lectures on numerous occasions. Michelle is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. She is also an associate of the Scottish Centre for Victorian and Neo-Victorian Studies and a member of the Association for Art History, Scottish Society for Art History, and the Visionary Artists, Visionary Objects International Research Network.

Michelle's teaching responsibilities include:

  • Course organiser of the pre-honours History of Art 2 programme
  • Europe 1900: Nationalism and Decadence at the Fin-de-Siècle – MA (Hons)
  • Romantics, Rebels and Revivalists: From Highland Glen to Scotland's Shrine, Scottish Art 1850-1927 – MA (Hons)
  • Impressionism, Decadence, Rhythm: Artists in France and Britain 1870-1914 – MA (Hons)
  • Art and Occultism in the Long Nineteenth Century – MSc
  • Contributing seminars on the postgraduate Research, Theories and Methods course
  • Supervising undergraduate and postgraduate dissertations


Nominated for 'Best Overall Teacher' category in Edinburgh University Students' Association Teaching Awards (2017-18, 2018-19, 2019-20)

Nominated for 'Best Course' category for Romantics, Rebels and Revivalists in Edinburgh University Students' Association Teaching Awards (2018-19, 2019-20)

Nominated for 'Best Implementer of Student Feedback' category in Edinburgh University Students' Association Teaching Awards (2017-18)

Michelle's research interests include European and British nineteenth-century art, Scottish art, national identity, Modern Spiritualism, Occulture and the Celtic Revival.


Peer-Reviewed Publications

M. Foot, 'A Portrayal of Life Beyond Death: Helen Duncan's Spirit Guide and His Portrait', Death in Scotland: Chapters from the Twelfth to the Twenty-First Centuries, eds. H. Grainger & P.C. Jupp (Peter Lang, 2019). Chapter.

M. Foot, 'Listening to the Voices: Joan of Arc as a Spirit-Medium in the Celtic Revival', FNG Research (early 2020). Article.

[In preparation] M. Foot, Modern Spiritualism and Scottish Art, 1860-1940 (Bloomsbury Academic). Monograph.


Conference Papers & Public Talks

• Conference paper: 'There Is No Death' - Themes of Christian-Spiritualism in Scottish Art. Invited speaker for the 'Beyond the Borders' conference, Research Institute of Irish and Scottish Studies, University of Aberdeen. November 2019.

• Public lecture: Nineteenth-Century Spirit Art. Invited speaker for the Arthur Conan Doyle Centre, Edinburgh. October 2019.

• Conference organising committee: 'Victorian Renewals', British Association of Victorian Studies annual conference, Dundee. August 2019.

• Conference paper: Psychical Engagements with Scotland's Romantic Landscape, Visions, Voices and Altered States conference, European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism, University of Amsterdam. July 2019.

• Public lecture: Jane Stewart Smith - Spiritualist and Artist. Invited speaker for the Arthur Conan Doyle Centre, Edinburgh. June 2019.

• Conference paper: The Visual Culture of Christian-Spiritualism in Scotland, Approaching Esotericism and Mysticism: Cultural Influences conference, Åbo Akademi University, Turku, Finland. June 2019.

• Session co-convener with Dr Lucy Weir: Occult Performances and Reflections: The Everyday Occult in Visual Culture, Association for Art History annual conference, Brighton. April 2019.

• Research seminar paper: The Celtic Revival and Modern Spiritualism: Fairies, Witches and Haunted Landscapes. Student-nominated speaker for History of Art Research Seminar; Invited speaker for School of Celtic and Scottish Studies Research Seminar, University of Edinburgh. February 2019.

• Conference paper: Painting the Vision Splendid: Depicting the Truths of Modern Spiritualism, International Society for Religion, Literature and Culture biennial conference, University of Uppsala, Sweden. September 2018.

• Public lecture: Modern Spiritualism and Scottish Art. Invited speaker for the Friends & Members lecture at the National Galleries of Scotland. May 2018.

• Session co-convener: Seeing and Hearing the Beyond: Art, Music and Mysticism in the Long Nineteenth Century, Association for Art History annual conference, Courtauld Institute of Art and King’s College London. April 2018.

• Conference paper: Dawn of Peace: A Vision for Spiritualism. Invited Speaker for Visionary Artists Visionary Objects Research Network, University of Manchester. February 2018. 

• Conference paper: The Witch as a Spirit-Medium in Scotland’s Celtic Revival. 'Cultural Mythologies Around 1900' conference organised by the European Revivals Research Project, National Galleries of Scotland. December 2017.

• Conference paper: Painting with the Spirits: Modern Spiritualism in Scotland and its Visual Culture. Invited speaker for 'The Occult in and Beyond Victorian Scotland' symposium, Scottish Centre for Victorian Studies, University of Stirling. October 2017.

• Public lecture: The Artist and The Paintings: John Duncan’s 'Ivory, Apes & Peacocks' and 'Anima Celtica'. Pitmedden House, Aberdeenshire, National Trust for Scotland. May 2017.

• Conference paper: Celtic Spiritualism and John Duncan's Riders of the Sidhe, Association for Art History annual conference, University of Edinburgh. April 2016.

• Conference paper: Modern Spiritualist Magazines: Promoting Spirit Paintings and Spirit Artists in Glasgow 1866-1907, Life and Death in the Nineteenth-Century Press conference, Research Society for Victorian Periodicals, University of Ghent, Belgium. July 2015.

• Conference paper: Through the Veil: Modern Spiritualism and Sculpture, Mourning and Morbidity: Death and British Art workshop, British Art Research School, University of York. March 2015.

PhD Supervision Topics

  • European and British nineteenth-century art
  • Scottish art
  • National identity
  • Modern Spiritualism
  • Celtic Revival
  • Occulture