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Dr Fiona Johnstone

Postdoctoral Research Associate in Visual Medical Humanities

BA (Hons) English Literature, MA English Literature, MA History of Art, PhD History of Art

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Postdoctoral Research Associate in Visual Medical Humanities in the Department of English Studies  
Research Associate in the Institute for Medical Humanities  


I am an art historian, specialising in the intersections between art history and medical humanities. I completed my PhD in the History of Art at Birkbeck, University of London, and subsequently took up a Wellcome Trust ISSF fellowship, which allowed me to work on two book-length projects, a monograph AIDS & Representation (Bloomsbury, May 2023) and a collected volume on Anti-Portraiture (Bloomsbury, 2020), and to curate an exhibition exploring the historic art therapy collection The Adamson Collection. 

I joined Durham Institute for Medical Humanities in 2018 as an Associate Editor for The Polyphony, and was acting Editor in Chief from 2019-2020. From 2019-2021 I was PI for the Wellcome-funded project Thinking Through Things”, which engaged with and expanded the visual and material turn in the medical humanities. 

I am now a postdoctoral research associate in visual medical humanities – to our knowledge this is the first visual medical humanities appointment in the UK! In 2021–23, I am co-directing the series Confabulations: Art Practice, Art History, Critical Medical Humanities. I am also working on a new monographic project, provisionally entitled Critical Interlopers: artists as researchers and collaborators in healthcare and medicine, and co-editing a collected volume for Palgrave Studies in Fashion and the Body, titled Curative Things, which explores the intersections between art, fashion, and health.

Esteem Indicators

  • 2022: Peer Review: I have reviewed articles for BJPsych Bullentin (2021), Modern and Contemporary France (2021), Medical Humanities (2019), the Science Museum Group Journal (2020, 2018) and Health Journal (2019). I have reviewed book proposals for Routledge (2021), Liverpool University Press (2020) and Palgrave MacMillan (2020).
  • 2022: Steering Groups: I am a member of the Steering Group for the Northern Network for Medical Humanities Research (NNMHR)


Authored book

  • Johnstone, Fiona (2023). AIDS & Representation: Portraits and Self-Portraits during the AIDS crisis in America. Bloomsbury Visual Arts.

Book review

Chapter in book

  • Johnstone, Fiona (2020). Relics, Remains and Other Objects: Non-Mimetic Portraiture in the Age of AIDS. In Anti-Portraiture: Challenging the Limits of the Portrait. Johnstone, Fiona & Imber, Kirstie Bloomsbury Visual Arts. 195-215.
  • Johnstone, Fiona (2016). The Pin-Up and the Corpse. In Malady and Mortality. Williams, Helen Cambridge Scholars. 69-76.
  • Johnstone, Fiona (2012). The Explosive Side of Subjectivity: Mark Morrisroe's Plastic Photographic Practice. In Changing Difference: Queer Politics and Changing Identities. Silvana Editoriale & Galleria Civica di Moderna. 125-137.

Edited book

  • Woolley, Dawn, Johnstone, Fiona, Sampson, Ellen & Chambers, Paula (Submitted). Curative Things: Wearable Objects at the Intersections of Art and Fashion, Health and Medicine. Studies in Fashion and the Body. Palgrave.
  • Johnstone, Fiona & Imber, Kirstie (2020). Anti-Portraiture: Challenging the Limits of the Portrait. Bloomsbury Visual Arts.

Edited Journal

Journal Article

Other (Digital/Visual Media)

  • Johnstone, Fiona & Orton, Liz (2020). Becoming an Image: an interview with artist Liz Orton.
  • Johnstone, Fiona & Atkin, Liz (2020). #Compulsive Charcoal: an interview with artist Liz Atkin.
  • Johnstone, Fiona (2019). Curating Being Human: an interview with Wellcome curator Clare Barlow.
  • Johnstone, Fiona (2019). Care as content and practice: responses to Curating Health.
  • Johnstone, Fiona (2019). Artist interview: Fiona Johnstone in conversation with Felicity Allen.
  • Johnstone, Fiona (2019). Feelings, figures, and a field ready to take centre stage: Representing the Medical Body at the Science Museum.
  • Johnstone, Fiona (2019). How do you see me?
  • Johnstone, Fiona (2018). Manifesto for a Visual Medical Humanities.


  • Johnstone, Fiona (2020). Collaborations between artists and academics. Working Knowledge, Durham University.