Professor Margaret Iversen

Emeritus Professor
School of Philosophy and Art History
Professor Margaret Iversen



Margaret Iversen is one of the leading international authorities in the field of art theory and contemporary art. Her first book was on one of the founders of Art History as a discipline: Alois Riegl: Art History and Theory (1993). Since then she has continued to write occasionally about the history of art history ('Retrieving Warburg's Tradition'), but has made her main areas of study psychoanalytic art theory, publishing Beyond Pleasure: Freud, Lacan, Barthes (2007) and book to be called Photography, Trace and Trauma (2017). Her present and future research is devoted to the overlapping fields of photography and contemporary art. She was director of a large AHRC research project called Aesthetics after Photography (2007-2010), an interdisciplinary project in partnership with Diarmuid Costello of the Philosophy Department, University of Warwick. Other publications include a monograph on the contemporary artist Mary Kelly and an essay on the American painter Edward Hopper which appears in the catalogue of the 2004 Tate Modern exhibition of his work. Recently published work includes a book called Writing Art History (with Stephen Melville) and a number of articles including 'Analogue: On Zoe Leonard and Tacita Dean', 'Index, Diagram, Graphic Trace,' 'Desire and the Diagrammatic,' and 'The World without a Self: Edward Hopper and Chantal Akerman.' Professor Iversen continues to accept and supervise PhD students.


  • BA cum laude Wellesley College,

  • M. Litt, two-year research degree on Kant's Aesthetics University of Edinburgh,

  • PhD Alois Riegl's Historiography University of Essex,

Research and professional activities

Research interests

Contemporary Art and Theory

Photography since the Sixties

Psychoanalytic Aesthetics

Historiography of the History of Art History

Current research

‘Index, Diagram, Graphic Trace,’ for special issue of Tate Papers,18, Special issue: Involuntary Drawing, ed. Iversen, Autumn, 2012

‘Involuntary Photography,’ in Anna Dezeuze and Julia Kelly (eds.), Found Sculpture and Photography from Surrealism to Contemporary Art, edited by Anna Dezeuze and Julia Kelly, Ashgate, 2012

‘Analogue: On Zoe Leonard and Tacita Dean,’ Special Issue on ‘Agency and Automatism: Photography as Art since the 1960s,’ Iversen and Diarmuid Costello, eds. Critical Inquiry vol.38, n.4, Summer, 2012

Chance, MIT Press/Whitechapel Art Gallery, March 2010

Conferences and presentations

Speaker, Twelfth Franklin M. Ludden Lecture in Art History and Criticism, Ohio State University

Lima, United States, 4/4/2013

Convenor and Speaker: Symposium: Involuntary Drawing: Art and Automatism, Art Exchange; paper title: Desire and the Diagrammatic


In conversation with Brian O’Doherty, Drawing Room, London

London, United Kingdom, 12/10/2012

Conference Lecture, Edward Hopper and the Cinema, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, ‘Trains, Cars, and Moving Pictures: Hopper’s Vehicles of Perception’


Conference Lecture, Edward Hopper and the Cinema, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, ‘Trains, Cars, and Moving Pictures: Hopper’s Vehicles of Perception’


Invited Speaker, London Aesthetics Forum at the Institute of Philosophy, University of London, ‘Photography, Trace and Trauma’

London, United Kingdom, 6/6/2012

Invited Speaker, Symposium at Centre for the Study of Contemporary Art, UCL, Sub-object and Studiowork, ‘Falling, dropping, letting go’

London, United Kingdom, 6/2/2010

Symposium Convenor with David Lomas, Involuntary Drawing, University of Westminster

London, United Kingdom, 2010

Invited Speaker, Department of Philosophy, The Queens College, Oxford, ‘Aesthetics of Chance’ in lecture series on ‘Twentieth-Century Philosophy and Theory of the Visual Arts'

Oxford, United Kingdom, 12/6/2009

Keynote Speaker, Kunsthistorisches Institut, Universität Zürich and Centre for Photography in Winterthur,Switzerland, for launch of MA and PhD programme in History and Theory of Photography



Journal articles (11)

Iversen, MD., ‘Index, Diagram, Graphic Trace,’. Tate Papers. 18

Iversen, M., (2021). The Diaristic Mode in Contemporary Art after Barthes. Art History. 44 (4), 798-822

Iversen, M., (2021). Steinberg’s Other Criteria. Oxford Art Journal. 43 (3), 387-402

Iversen, MD., (2018). The World without a Self: Edward Hopper and Chantal Akerman. Art History. 41 (4), 742-760

Iversen, M., (2016). Desire and the Diagrammatic. Oxford Art Journal. 39 (1), 1-17

Iversen, M., (2012). Analogue: On Zoe Leonard and Tacita Dean. Critical Inquiry. 38 (4), 796-818

Iversen, M., (2009). Auto-maticity: Ruscha and Performative Photography. Art History. 32 (5), 836-851

Iversen, M., (2005). The Discourse of Perspective in the Twentieth Century: Panofsky, Damisch, Lacan. Oxford Art Journal. 28 (2), 191-202

Iversen, M., (2004). Readymade, Found Object, Photograph. Art Journal. 63 (2), 44-57

Iversen, M., (1998). In the Blind Field: Hopper and the Uncanny. Art History. 21 (3), 409-429

Iversen, M., (1994). What is a photograph?. Art History. 17 (3), 450-463

Books (9)

Iversen, M., (2017). Photography, Trace, and Trauma. University of Chicago Press. 022637016X. 9780226370163

Costello, D., (2012). Agency and Automatism: Photography as Art Since the Sixties

Iversen, M. and Melville, S., (2010). Writing Art History Disciplinary Departures. University of Chicago Press. 0226388263. 9780226388267

Iversen, M., (2010). Chance. The MIT Press. 0262513927. 9780262513920

Costello, D. and Iversen, M., (2010). Photography After Conceptual Art. Wiley-Blackwell. 1444333607. 9781444333602

Iversen, M., (2007). Beyond Pleasure: Freud, Lacan, Barthes. The Pennsylvania State University Press

Arnold, D. and Iversen, M., (2003). Art and Thought. Wiley-Blackwell. 0631227148. 9780631227144

Kelly, M., Iversen, M., Crimp, D. and Bhabha, HK., (1997). Mary Kelly. Phaidon Inc Ltd

Iversen, M., (1993). Alois Riegl. MIT Press (MA). 0262090309. 9780262090308

Book chapters (6)

Iversen, MD., (2013). ‘Involuntary Photography'. In: Found Sculpture and Photography from Surrealism to Contemporary Art. Editors: Dezeuze, A. and Kelly, J., . Ashgate. 171- 184. 9781409400004

Iversen, MD., (2009). ‘Automaticity: Ruscha and Performative Photography’. In: Photography after Conceptual Art. Editors: Iversen, M. and Costello, D., . Wiley - Blackwell. 12- 27. 978-1-444-33360-2

Iversen, MD. and Costello, D., (2009). Introduction: Photography after Conceptual Art. In: Photography after Conceptual Art. Editors: Iversen, M. and Costello, D., . Wiley-Blackwell. 1- 11. 978-1-444-33360-2

Iversen, M., (2007). ‘Following pieces: On performative photography’. In: Photography Theory. Editors: Elkins, J., . Routledge. 91- 108. 0415977835

Iversen, MD., (2006). The surrealist situation of the photographed object. In: The lure of the object. Editors: Melville, S., . Sterling and Francine Clark Institute; Yale University Press. 181- 192

Iversen, MD., (2004). ‘Hopper’s melancholy gaze’,. In: Edward Hopper,. Editors: Wagstaff, S., . Tate Publishing. 1854375334. 9781854375339

Grants and funding


Aesthetics after Photography

Arts And Humanities Research Council



Colchester Campus