Dr Joanne Morra

Profile image of Dr Joanne Morra

Dr Joanne Morra

Reader in Art History and Theory

Central Saint Martins


Dr Joanne Morra is a Reader in Art History and Theory. Joanne is a Founder of The Doctoral Platform at CSM, she supervises PhD students and teaches on the Art Programme at Central Saint Martins.

Joanne hold a PhD in Art History and Theory (Leeds University, 1994-8), an MA in Feminism and the Visual Arts (Leeds University, 1992-3), an MA in History of Art (University of Toronto, 1990-2), and a BA Hons in History of Art and English (University of Toronto, 1985-90)

Joanne is presently working on several projects. A single-authored book entitled Inside the Freud Museums: History, Memory and Site-Responsive Art (I.B. Tauris 2016). This book analyzes the Freud Museums’ (Vienna and London) relationship to contemporary art and psychoanalysis through a consideration of the consulting room; the archaeological impulse within psychoanalysis; the function of memory, migration and trauma; the confluence of dreams, delusions and death; and the intimate fiction of autobiography.

Canyon, a close reading of Robert Rauschenberg’s combine and its implications for contemporary art for Afterall’s One Work Series (Afterall/MIT, 2018).

50 Years of Art and Objecthood: Traces, Impact, Critique (edited with Alison Green) examines the critical impact of Michael Fried’s 1967 essay on fields that are seemingly outside of art history: for instance, film, theatre, philosophy, curation, and new media. The collection will be published in Journal of Visual Culture (April 2017).  

Intimacy Unguarded: Autobiography, Biography, Memoir is a 4-year research project with Emma Talbot which draws on the work of artists, writers, and critical theorists in order to examine how autobiography operates as a creative space, the use of biography in contemporary art, and the persuasive voice of memoir as a bridge between factual events and imagination. Hosting a series of public symposia, lectures and forums, this project will result in a final publication.

Joanne is a Founding Principal Editor of Journal of Visual Culture, Founding Executive Board Member of International Association of Visual Culture, and Founding Member of Visual Culture Studies in Europe Network. 

Research interests

Modern and contemporary art, critical theory, psychoanalysis as a theory and practice, spaces of practice (writer's study, artist's studio, gallery, and psychoanalytic consulting room); autographic narratives and subjectivity, translation and transcultural aesthetics, the question of materiality as it pertains to art-making.

Research statement

Over the years, Joanne Morra has written on many contemporary artists, including, Faisal Abdu' Allah, Chantal Akerman, Mieke Bal, William Cobbing, Tacita Dean, Mona Hatoum, Barbara Kruger, Susan Pui San Lok, Adrian Piper, Elizabeth Price, Robert Rauschenberg, Mario Rossi, Pam Skelton, Emma Talbot, Erika Tan, Chris Wainwright, and Michelle Williams Gamaker.

Joanne has also considered the possibilities of translation and the visual arts in the context of Biblical narratives, transcultural aesthetics, gender, and sexuality.

Joanne has published on these ideas in, for instance, New FormationsArt HistoryJournal of History of Modern ArtJournal of Visual CultureGarageland, NomadikonParallax, and What is Research in the Visual Arts: Obsession, Archive, Encounter? (eds. Holly and Smith) as well as within a series of books she has co-edited, including The Limits of Death (MUP 2000), The Prosthetic Impulse: From a Posthuman Present to a Biocultural Future (MIT 2006), Visual Culture: Critical Concepts in Media and Cultural Studies, 4 volumes (Routledge 2006); Acts of Translation with Mieke Bal (Journal of Visual Culture, Sage 2007).

Recently Joanne had the pleasure of curating an exhibition Saying It, of work by Mieke Bal & Michelle Williams Gamaker, and Renate Ferro at the Freud Museum, London (2012). 

Joanne regularly presents papers, including at: Aarhaus University (Aarhaus); University of Norway (Bergen); Harvard (Cambridge MA); University of Edinburgh; Freud Museum (London); University of Glasgow; ZKM (Karlsruhe); Bigli University (Istanbul); Norway University of Science and Technology (Trondheim); Hong-Ik University (Seoul); University of Lithuania/Belarus (Vilnius); Clark Institute (Williamstown USA); University of Zurich.

As a Founder and Principal Editor of the Journal of Visual Culture (2000-onwards) and a Founder of the cultural theory journal Parallax (Editor 1993-1998), Joanne has been involved in provoking and establishing debates in critical theory and its relationship to a wide range of disciplines, from art history to gender studies, postcolonial theory, and cultural studies. These publications have also critically interrogated and simultaneously established visual culture studies as a new field of inquiry in the academy.


Current students and thesis titles

Slawa Danuta Harasymowicz-Powell, Double Exposure: Memory, Post Memory and Autobiography as Practice.

Armenoui Kasparian Saraidari, The materiality of photography and the memory of the Armenian Genocide.

Aviva Leeman, Reading the Material Text: Interactions between Art, Word, Object and Audience.

Aaron John Matthews, Derrida, and Writing the Events of 1968.

George Unsworth, The World is Getting Smaller: How spatial and temporal resources influence the production of contemporary art.

Completed students and thesis titles

Evdoxia Baniotopoulou, The Contemporary Art Exhibition and the Western European Metropolis.

Silvana Macedo, Allegory and Contemporary Art.

Zoe Mendelson, Psychologies and Spaces of Accumulation: The Hoard as Collagist Methodology (and other stories).

Silvana Macedo, ‘From Fine Art to Natural Science Through Allegory’, University of Northumbria at Newcastle, 2003.

Louise Garrett, … of delay, hesitation and detour


Project awards, and grants

UAL Teaching Award, 2015

Arts Council of England, 2011

University of the Arts Sabbatical Leave, 2009-10

University of the Arts Sabbatical Leave, 2005-6 

AHRB Research Leave, 2004-5

Leverhulme Research Fellowship, 2004-5

Middlesex University, 2000

Oxford Brookes University, 1999-2001

University of Leeds, 1997

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, PhD Funding, 1997-1998

Commonwealth Scholarship Commission, PhD Funding, 1994-1997

Samuel H. Kress Foundation Travel Grant, 1996

Simcoe Scholarship, BA Award, 1991-1992

Marjorie Solomon Scholarship, BA Award, 1989-1990

Selected research outputs