Mirjam Brusius

Postdoctoral Research Fellow


Residence: September 1, 2012–August 31, 2013


Mirjam Brusius is a historian of art and science working on a book project concerning the value of Middle Eastern archaeological objects during the transition period on their way to Europe when the finds seem to have no status. The project investigates the subsequent processes of canonization and decanonization these objects caused upon their arrival in the leading museums of the nineteenth century.

Further projects include a monograph on the scholarly mindset of the British pioneer of photography W.H.F. Talbot as well as articles on the history of photography in Iran and more widely in the Middle East. Her co-edited volume on Talbot was recently published by Yale University Press.

Mirjam holds a Masters in Art History from Humboldt-Universität in Berlin and a Ph.D. in History and Philosophy of Science from the University of Cambridge. Her doctoral thesis (supervised by Prof Simon Schaffer) explored Talbot’s scientific interests and his role as an antiquarian in relation to his photographic achievements. As an AHRC collaborative doctoral award holder she also catalogued Talbot’s notebooks at the British Library.

Prior to her fellowship at MPIWG, she was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz - Max Planck Institute. She was recently awarded fellowships at Harvard University and the University of Oxford.

Selected publications

  • Brusius, M., Dean, K., & Ramalingam, C. (Eds.). (2013). William Henry Fox Talbot: Beyond Photography. New Haven, London: Yale University Press. More
  • Brusius, M., & Ramalingam, C. (2013). Introduction. In M. Brusius, K. Dean, & C. Ramalingam (Eds.), William Henry Fox Talbot: Beyond photography. New Haven, London: Yale University Press. More
  • Brusius, M. (2013). From photographic science to scientific photography: Talbot, decipherment and the application of photography at the British Museum around 1850. In M. Brusius, K. Dean, & C. Ramalingam (Eds.), William Henry Fox Talbot: Beyond Photography. New Haven, London: Yale University Press. More
  • Brusius, M. (2012). Misfit Objects. Excavations in Mesopotamia and biblical imagination in mid-19th century Britain. More
  • Brusius, M. (2010). Impreciseness in Julia Margaret Cameron’s portrait photographs. More
  • Brusius, M. (2009). Inscriptions in a double sense: the biography of an early scientific photograph of script. Nuncius, 24(2), 367-392. More

More publications

Talks and presentations

February 2013 College Art Association Annual Conference (session ‘Photography in Doubt’), New York City – The doubtful user. W.H.F. Talbot’s early attempts to advance photography (with Chitra Ramalingam)
September 2012 Indian-European Advanced Research Network, Research Group on Museums and History, Workshop on the Comparative History of Museums in India and Europe, India International Centre, Delhi – Statement on ‘ownership vs. custodianship’
April 2012 Photography and its Origins, Symposium, Rutgers University – Talbot's notes. Revisiting the origins of photography in the light of a wider Victorian archive
February 2011 Transnationale Museumsgeschichte 1750-1940, Technische Universität Berlin – Der Nahe Osten im Depot. Assyrische Museumsobjekte als kulturelle Herausforderung im Viktorianischen England
September 2011 Iran colloquium, Yale University – The back and forth of photography. Naser al Din Shah and images of transmission between 19th century Europe and Qajar Iran


Teaching activities

2013 Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (Institut für Kulturwissenschaft) – Lost in Transnation. Reiseziele, Präfixe und Tendenzen einer global ausgerichteten historischen Geisteswissenschaft
2007-2011 University of Cambridge (Department of History and Philosophy of Science) – Undergraduate supervisor in History of Science, Scientific Images Discussion Group (Organizer), "German Therapy" (Tutor)
2010 Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (Institut für Kunst- und Bildgeschichte) – Seminar "William Henry Fox Talbot. Photographie, Wissenschaft und Universalgelehrtentum im 19. Jahrhundert"
2009 University of Cambridge (Department of History of Art) – B.A. dissertation supervisor
2008 Sotheby's Institute London – Guest lecturer in History of Photography