Dr Matt Lodder

Senior Lecturer
School of Philosophy and Art History
Dr Matt Lodder



Dr Matt Lodder is a Senior Lecturer in Art History and Theory, and Director of American Studies at the University of Essex. He teaches European, American and Japanese art, architecture, visual culture and theory from the late 19th century to the present, including modern and contemporary art post-1945, digital and "new media" art, and the intersections between art & politics. His research primarily concerns the application of art-historical methods to history of Western tattooing from the 17th century to the present day, with a principal focus on the professional era from the 1880s onwards. His expertise also extends to wider histories of body modification practices in the West, including tongue splitting, implants, and other procedures. He has also recently published work on feminist debates in pornography, and on the intersections of consent, culture and the law in the context of 1970s and '80s queer subcultures. He has given invited lectures at venues including the V&A, the National Museum of Scotland, and the Museum of London. He has published academic papers in venues including the Sculpture Journal, and contributed forewords for over a dozen popular books on tattooing. He has contributed articles to the Royal Academy Magazine, History Today, The Guardian and others, and appeared on broadcast media across the globe. His first monograph, on the history of Western tattooing, is currently in production. His latest major exhibition, 'British Tattoo Art Revealed', began at the National Maritime Museum Falmouth in March 2017 and is currently on tour nationwide through 2020. Matt also serves as the presenter of the landmark television series "Art of Museums", airing across Europe and beyond in late 2018 and early 2019. Matt is currently Director of American Studies, overseeing the US degree programs within the Interdisciplinary Studies Centre.


  • BA (Hons) French & German University of Bradford

  • MA, Critical Theory (The Body and Representation) - Reading

  • PhD, History of Art - Reading

Research and professional activities

Research interests

tattooing and body modification in their historical and theoretical contexts

lowbrow, outsider, countercultural, kitsch and erotic art & visual culture

the visual and cultural contexts of sex and sadomasochism, including pornography

internet and digital art

methodologies of art historical and visual culture study

Current research

The History of Tattooing in Britain and America, 1600 - Present

The Cultural Contexts of Operation Spanner / R v Brown

Postwar Californian Lowbrow and Outsider Art, focussing on Ed 'Big Daddy' Roth

The impact of Christopher Alexander's Architectural Theory on Contemporary Software Design (Preliminary)

Conferences and presentations

I don't mind being branded a fashion victim, but an S&M victim I am not: Operation Spanner, Mr Sebastian, and the strange problem of the navel piercing, Operation Spanner: History, Culture, Crime conference, University of Essex & Royal Holloway, UL. 2015


Gunpowder Under the Skin: Tattooing in Late 18th Century Maritime Culture, AAH, University of Reading 2013


Tattooing as High?Status Commodity Art in the Late 19th Century, CAA, New York, February 2013


The New Old Style: Tradition, Archetype and Rhetoric In Contemporary Western Tattooing, Revival: Utopia, Identity And Memory, The Courtauld Institute of Art 2012


Tattooing as Artistic Practice: People of the State of New York v. Spider Webb at CAA, New York 2011


The Myth of the Modern Primitive at AAH10, University of Glasgow 2010


How do you make yourself a Body without Organs? the post?modified body and the Deleuzian paradigm at Somatechnics,Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia 2007


Self?Made Men: Male genital modification and the (re)construction of masculine identity at GENCAS ? Haunted Bodies, Universityof Swansea 2006


Human Canvas: The Modified Body as Art Object at RX Futures Space, Object, Idea, Kingston University. 2006


Teaching and supervision

  • PICTURING THE CITY II: Do Android Crows Fly Over the Sky of an Electronic Tokyo? (AR222)

  • The Work of Art in the Age of Digital Reproduction: Film, New Media, Software and the Internet (AR322)

  • Art and Politics (AR937)

  • Introduction to Contemporary Latin America (CS141)


Journal articles (5)

Lodder, M., (2016). Visual pleasure and gonzo pornography: Mason’s challenge to convention in ‘the hardest of hardcore’. Porn Studies. 3 (4), 373-385

Dymock, A. and Lodder, M., (2016). 'The Erotics of Injury: Remembering Operation Spanner Workshops', 10&11 September 2015, University of Essex and Royal Holloway, University of London. Porn Studies. 3 (3), 320-323

Lodder, M., (2015). ‘Things of the sea’: iconographic continuities between tattooing and handicrafts in Georgian-era maritime culture. Sculpture Journal. 24 (2), 195-210

Lodder, M., (2013). Art History in the Pub. Journal of Visual Culture. 12 (2), 332-338

Lodder, M., (2011). The Myth of the Modern Primitive. European Journal of American Culture. 30 (2), 99-111

Books (2)

Lodder, M., (2019). Tattoo: An Art History (Forthcoming). IB Tauris. 9781780762364

Lepine, A., Lodder, M. and McKever, R., (2015). Revival: Memories, Identities, Utopias. The Courtauld Institute of Art. 978-1-907485-04-6

Book chapters (11)

Lodder, MC., (2017). Foreword. In: Tattoo An Illustrated Miscellany. Editors: Hardy, L., . Robinson. xi- xiv. 1472136926. 9781472136923

Lodder, M., (2015). The New Old Style: Tradition, Archetype and Rhetoric in Contemporary Western Tattooing. In: Revival: Memories, Identities, Utopias. Editors: Lepine, A., Lodder, M. and McKever, R., . The Courtauld Institute of Art. 978-1-907485-04-6

Lodder, M., (2015). Nostalgia. In: Revival: Memories, Identities, Utopias. Editors: Lepine, A., Lodder, M. and McKever, R., . The Courtauld Institute of Art. 978-1-907485-04-6

Lodder, M., (2015). Various artist interviews. In: World Atlas of Tattoo. Editors: Friedman, A., . Yale University Press. 0300210485. 9780300210484

Lodder, MC., (2015). From Paper onto Skin. In: Tattoo Masters Flash Collection: Selected Styles Around the World. Editors: Reuss, M. and Hoill, E., . Editions Reuss. 394310530X. 978-3943105308

Lodder, M., (2013). Neo-Victorian Tattooing. In: Victoriana A Miscellany: Being the Accompanying Publication to the Exhibition at the Guildhall Art Gallery Victoriana: The Art of Revival, 7th September to 8th December 2013, the Whole Copiously Illustrated by Otto Von Beach and Forming an Indispensable Companion to Neo-Victorianism for Gentlemen and Ladies. 1902795156. 9781902795157

Lodder, M., (2012). Foreword in Goblin Market. In: Goblin Market - Irish New Contemporary Art. Editors: Macdermot, A., . White Lady Art Books. 978-0-9573223-0-1

Lodder, M., (2012). Foreword. In: Forever- the New Tattoo. Editors: Klanten, R. and Schulze, F., . Gestalten. xi- xvii. 978-3-89955-442-7

Lodder, M., (2012). Foreword. In: Forever The New Tattoo. Editors: Klanten, R., . Die Gestalten Verlag. 184- 187. 3899554426. 9783899554427

Lodder, M., (2009). A Somatechnological Paradigm: How do you Make Yourself a Body without Organs?. In: Somatechnics: Queering the Technologisation of Bodies. Editors: Sullivan, N. and Murray, S., . Ashgate. 187- 206. 9780754675303

Lodder, M., (2008). “O‐Kee‐Pa Suspension”; “[Ears] Subcultural cropping and shaping”; “Subdermal Implants”; “[Skin] Branding”; “[Tongue] Splitting” ; “[Teeth] Filing” ; “[Penis] Subincision”. In: Cultural Encyclopedia of the Body: A-L. Editors: Pitts-Taylor, V., . 031334146X. 9780313341465

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6.133, Colchester Campus