Rita Yates

PhD Student


Research Interests
Early modern art and visual culture | Ex-votos and votive practices | Disease and healing | Iconography of plague and pestilence | Faith and practice in the Age of Enlightenment | History of Science | Environmental humanities | Landscape and environment

Year PhD started


Acts of God: Religion and Disaster in Eighteenth-Century French Art

My thesis addresses the ways in which encounters with natural disaster shaped the production, function, and reception of eighteenth-century French art and visual culture. Focusing on relationships between biblical imagery, the cult of saints, and urban disaster, my research examines how artistic and art historical thinking and practice engaged with two prevalent discourses: 1) theological conceptions of disaster (divine judgement and punishment), and 2) philosophical enquiry seeking to explain disasters within the framework of Enlightenment rationale. More broadly, this project explores the extent to which these artworks functioned as agents within wider debates concerning God’s providence and the natural world.

Supervisors: Dr Paul Taylor / Dr Raphaële Mouren