Prof. Steve Edwards

Professor in Art History – Materialism, Faculty of Arts, Art History, The Open University
BA Hons, Fine Art (South Glamorgan Institute of Higher Education),
MA Social History of Art (Leeds), PhD (Leeds)

Professional biography

Steve Edwards joined the Open University as Research Lecturer in Art History in 1997. After a first degree in Fine Art, he was awarded an MA in the social history of art from the University of Leeds. In 1996 he received his PhD for a thesis on nineteenth-century theories of photography. During 2006 Professor Edwards was visiting professor in art History at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. In addition to writing extensively on the history of photography, he regularly produces essays on contemporary art and on art and social theory. His work has been translated into eleven languages.

Research interests

History and theory of photography; Marxist and socialist thought; Contemporary art; Art, work and industrial knowledge; Film and video, Art theory; Cultural theory; Historiography; Utopia; ‘Globalisation’.

In 2006 he published two books: The Making of English Photography, Allegories (Penn State University Press) and Photography: a Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press). His most recent book is Martha Rosler, The Bowery in two inadequate descriptive systems (2012). He serves on the editorial boards of The Oxford Art Journal and Historical Materialism: Research in Critical Marxist Theory.

Professor Edwards regularly organises conferences and is a convenor for the research seminar ‘Marxism in Culture’, held at the Institute of Historical Research, School of Advanced Studies, University of London.

He is currently working on research projects on image copyright and piracy; contemporary art and contemporary capitalism; and photography, socialism and feminism at the turn of the twentieth century.

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Prof. Gail Day

Gail Day is Senior Lecturer and Director of Research in History of Art in the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies at the University of Leeds, where she is co-founder of the centre for Critical Materialist Studies. Gail is part of the research collective Marxism in Culture (at the Institute of Historical Research, London) and initiated the project ‘Aesthetic Form & Uneven Modernities’ with colleagues from Universidade de São Paulo and Birkbeck.

Research interests

Aesthetics and politics: capitalism and form; intersection of value theory, commodity, reification, social process and abstraction with cultural and aesthetic theory analysis; critique of postwar commodity cultures.

Traditions of emancipatory and dissident thought and their role in visual and material culture; Marxism and issues arising from Western Marxism, the New Left and the new social movements; legacies of dialectical thought.Theories, geographies and economies of social transformation and global restructuring; the role of non-identity in subject (trans)formation; the interface of radical philosophical aesthetics and historical paradigms.

​Gail Day is ​co-organiser of the research seminar Marxism in Culture ( at Institute of Historical Research, London.