Dr Elspeth Mitchell

Dr Elspeth Mitchell


My work explores practices and theories of feminism and visual culture. In October 2021 I joined the school as the Griselda Pollock Legacy Lecturer. I am co-investigator of a three-year digital humanities project Feminist Art Making Histories (with Professor Hilary Robinson, Dr Tina Kinsella and Dr Amy Tobin) funded by the AHRC and IRC. The project will record, curate and archive oral histories of those engaged in art and feminism in the UK and Ireland from the 1970s onwards.

Prior to joining the school I was Postdoctoral Research Fellow on the AHRC funded project Fabulous Femininities: Extravagant Costume and Transformative Thresholds. I have also held a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at the Paul Mellon Centre for British Art and was Research Associate in Practices and Theories of Feminism and Art at Loughborough University with Professor Hilary Robinson.

From 2017–2020 I was producer for arts organisation Pavilion of Art School for Rebel Girls, a project rooted in feminist pedagogy, which developed from a series of collaborative creative workshops led for, with and by young women (13–16) in Leeds. Working with other invited artists and curators, we formed a collective intergenerational working group who make exhibitions, curate film screenings and produce other artistic and cultural activities together.

My doctoral thesis, completed in 2018, was an in-depth study of ‘the Girl’ and moving image artworks. In the thesis the Girl was addressed as a question, specifically posed to a text by feminist philosopher Simone de Beauvoir (1908–1986), and artworks by two artists/filmmakers, Chantal Akerman (1950–2015) and Eija-Liisa Ahtila (b.1959).

Previously I have held the roles of Yorkshire editor for Corridor8, associate editor of parallax  and co-director of SPUR. I have worked with artists, perfomers, filmmakers, writers and theorists including Alex Martinis Roe, Helen de Main, Maria Fusco, Iris Zaki, Soofiya Andry, Jennifer Reeder and Luce Irigaray on screenings, reading groups, exhibitions and events across the country. In 2016, I co-founded Feminist Readings Network / Réseau Lectures Féministes, which provides a translingual space to explore feminist, queer and anti-racist thought, art and pedagogy.

Research interests

I have published in the areas of feminist philosophy, girls’ studies, environmental feminisms, performance art and theory, feminist digital art history, artist’s moving image and cinema. 

‘Feminist Digital Art History’(with Kathryn Brown) in Digital Humanities and Art History (Routledge, 2020)

‘To Be Born a Girl? Irigaray and Sexuate Difference’, in Towards a New Human Being, ed. by Luce Irigaray, Mahon O'Brien, Christos Hadjioannou (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019)

‘The Girl and Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex: Feminine Becomings’, Australian Feminist Studies, 32, 93 (2017)

With Dr Lenka Vráblíková, I am engaged in a project examining the role forests, mushrooms and their foragers have played in the cultural and political imagination of European heteropatriarchal coloniality. Part of this includes Out of Office, which began as a feminist reading and mushroom foraging walk in 2017. The aim of these walks was to enable us and other participants to critically reflect on the conditions of feminist academic labour, through feminist readings and mushroom hunting. In autumn 2021 we curated a series Mycorrhizal Encounters conversations with artists, activists, and researchers who work with the versatility of fungi and the resourcefulness of mycorrhizal communities.

Feminist Ethnomycology and the Politics of Visual Culture (with Lenka Vráblíková), FlashArt, (2022)

Out of Office: Mycorrhizal encounters and the art of feminist un/learning (with Lenka Vráblíková) Antennae Journal (2022)

<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>

Student education

I teach on feminism and visual culture in the school. I also run a study group Tender Study exploring different kinds of feminist practices. Email me if you would like to find out more.