Dr Christine O Atha


I am a lecturer, researcher and curator in the fields of contemporary art and design, material culture and aesthetics.

Before joining the School I was tutor in Critical and Historical Studies in the Humanities Department at the Royal College of Art, London and before that was associate professor of Design History at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Prior to moving to Chicago I was senior lecturer in Cultural Studies at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, London.

In addition to my employment in higher education I have also worked in a number of museums including Tate Britain Education, the Design Museum London as curator of the Review Gallery and as the head of education at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London.




  • Academic Integrity Officer

Research interests

My research explores working class taste, the discourses of value and improvement in British design culture and the relationship between politics, class and taste.

My work looks at the aesthetic and social assumptions that underpin the promotional and interpellative literature of design reform in its address to the indiscriminating public.

My PhD dealt with approaches to the aesthetic education of the working class in the UK during the period 1937-1947 and was entitled "Coals in the Bath: Taste, the Working Class and the Literature of Design Reform in Britain, 1937 1947".

I am a specialist in material culture, aesthetics and taste. My research also covers museology and museums as the site of aesthetic education.

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://ahc.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD Humanities: Critical and Historical Studies
  • MA Design History
  • BA (Hons) Fine Art and Art History

Professional memberships

  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA)
  • Design History Society
  • Association for Art History

Student education

I am an art, design and cultural historian and cultural theoretician.  I teach a number of modules in the School of Design and offer university wide discovery modules.



<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>