Dr Lisa Godson

BA 1994, MA 1998, PhD 2008


Lisa Godson is a historian of design and material culture, and also researches and writes about contemporary design. She studied History of Art at Trinity College Dublin (BA 1994) and History of Design at the Royal College of Art/Victoria & Albert Museum, London (MA 1998, PhD 2008). Godson has held tenured lecturing posts in a number of institutions including DIT and the Royal College of Art, where she was lead tutor in critical studies for MA design interaction, product design and industrial design. She was RCA Teaching and Learning Fellow and devised the college Virtual Learning Environment RCAde. She was NCAD Fellow at the inter-institutional Graduate School of Creative Arts and Media (GradCAM) 2009-13, where she was part of the team that developed and taught a pioneering structured doctoral research programme and chaired two research seminars, in historiography and theories of contemporary design. One characteristic of Godson’s teaching involves devising student research projects in collaboration with institutions, recently with the Little Museum of Dublin for the Secret Lives of Objects exhibition, symposium and publication (2015), and (alongside UCD Art History) with the National Library of Ireland on their ‘large books’ collection, leading to a public symposium (2012).

Recent publications include the co-edited volumes Making 1916: material and visual culture of the Easter Rising (Liverpool University Press: 2015); Design learning in an age of austerity (Cumulus: 2015); the co-authored 10,000-word essay ‘Design in Twentieth Century Ireland’ in volume 5 of the History of Art and Architecture of Ireland (Yale/RIA: 2014). She has also published across a range of academic journals including Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, Irish Geography, the Journal of Design History, Design and Culture, Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians and Material Religion. The publication of her monograph How the crowd felt: the material culture of public events in the Irish Free State is planned for 2016.

An aspect of Godson’s research involves collaborations with creative practitioners – she devised the original concept and research for the award-winning feature-length documentary Build Something Modern (Still Films: 2011) on Irish modernist architecture in Africa; is research collaborator with artists Jesse Jones and Sarah Browne on their major Artangel/Create/Arts Council 2016 national commission In the Shadow of the State (2016) and is research mentor and collaborator for Dublin City Council Arts Office/National Gallery of Ireland art commissions for the centenary of the 1916 Rising.

The Secret Lives of Objects: Hidden Stories of Design Little Museum of Dublin, April 2015. A project undertaken by the MA Design History and Material Culture at NCAD and funded by Year of Irish Design 2015. This work also resulted in a symposium (April 2015) and publication edited by Lisa Godson.

Conferences Organised

2014 Modern Sacred Architecture in Germany and Ireland Newman House, Dublin, Oct. 9-11. Two-day conference, co-organised with School of Art History and Cultural Policy, UCD

2013  Making 1916, the Visual and Material Culture of the Easter Rising Wood Quay Venue, April 25-6. Two-day conference, co-organised with School of Archaeology, UCD

2012 Illustrated books and imagining the city 1750-1900 National Library of Ireland. One-day public symposium, co-organised with School of Art History and Cultural Policy, UCD

2012 Revisiting the 1932 Eucharistic Congress: Ireland’s family reunion, the material culture of spectacle, and the religious imagination  Newman House, September 28. One-day public symposium, co-organised with School of History, UCD

2011/12  Object Matters: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Material Culture Monthly public seminar series, co-organised with School of Archaeology, UCD
2011 Same Difference: Material Cultures of Reproduction at the Association of Art Historians Annual Conference University of Warwick. Co-organised with Department of the History of Art, Trinity College Dublin

The Fourth Wall: on Film and Architecture Irish Film Institute. One-day symposium addressing historic filmic representations of architecture. Co-organised with Irish Film Institute, Irish Architecture Foundation and School of Architecture, UCD

Dublin Sean agus Nua Irish Film Institute. Public screening programme of films on the theme of attitudes to Dublin’s urban fabric at a time of rapid structural change c.1967-75. Co-curated with Irish Film Archive

2010  arts research: publics and purposes. Various venues, Dublin. Five-day programme of events, symposia, presentations, performances, screenings and exhibitions on the public role of arts research and cultural policy. Co-organised with GradCAM colleagues

Making 1916: material and visual culture of the Easter Rising (Liverpool University Press: 2015) http://liverpooluniversitypress.co.uk/products/60501
Co-editor of the first book to focus on this aspect of the Rising, with 22 contributors from a broad range of disciplines including history of art, visual culture, literary history, performance studies, archaeology and material culture.

‘Charting the material culture of the Devotional Revolution: the Advertising Register of the Irish Catholic Directory, 1838-98’ in Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy: Section C (online early at http://www.jstor.org/stable/procriasectc.ahead-of-print). This article explores the importance of specific forms of material culture in embedding systematised, sacramentalist, devotional Catholicism in Ireland, particularly addressing the interrelationship of capitalism, mechanisation and ultramontanism.
Design learning in an age of austerity (Cumulus, Utrecht: 2015)
Co-editor of publication on contemporary design pedagogy, based on papers of that theme from the international conference More for Less: Design in an Age of Austerity (NCAD, 2013).

‘Design in Twentieth Century Ireland’ in volume 5 of the History of Art and Architecture of Ireland (Yale University Press/Royal Irish Academy: 2014)
Co-author of this major 10,000-word essay on design and material culture in modern Ireland.

‘Visual and material culture in the Atlas of the Great Irish Famine 1845-52’ in Irish Geography 24 (3), 2013


Professor Kathleen James Chakraborty, UCD - Modern Sacred Architecture in Germany and Ireland
One iteration of this project was an international conference that addressed cross-currents between Irish and German modernist architecture, particularly in the sphere of sacred buildings (October 2014). A publication is underway based on the conference proceedings, supported by seed funding from the UCD + NCAD alliance.
Joanna Brück, Reader in Archaeology and Head of Subject, University of Bristol – Object Matters This monthly seminar series in 2011/12 addressed interdisciplinary approaches to material culture and design and led to the conference (2013) and publication (2015) Making 1916: Material and Visual Culture of the Easter Rising.
Jesse Jones and Sarah Browne (artists), Artangel/Create Commission In the Shadow of the State Godson is research collaborator on this major new commission in relation to the role of the Nation State in the control and regulation of the female body; initial research was presented at ‘the voice emerges’ at Green Street Courthouse in April 2015, and further outputs include a publication in 2016.
Dublin City Council Arts Office/National Gallery of Ireland – 2016 commissions Godson is working with the Lab (DCC’s contemporary art gallery), the National Gallery of Ireland and artists commissioned to produce work that responds to the centenary of the 1916 Rising.
Advisory Boards
Little Museum of Dublin
Darklight Festival
Pivot Dublin

Recent External Examining
University of the Arts, Central Saint Martins, London External examiner for cultural studies component of BA Fashion, Textile and Jewellery design degrees (2013-15)
Trinity College Dublin External examiner for M.Phil in Irish Art  (2010-13)

Past collaborations Include projects with ‘the food thing’, a collaborative creative project around the politics and economic conditions of food production (includes of the salt bitter sweet sea: a public banquet, supported by Dublin City Council Arts Office); the National Library of Ireland/UCD Art History (symposium: Illustrated Books and Imagining the City); UCD History (symposium: Revisiting the 1932 Eucharistic Congress); the Irish Architecture Foundation/UCD Architecture (symposium: the Fourth Wall: on Film and Architecture); the Irish Film Archive (co-curators on screening programme Dublin Sean agus Nua on attitudes to urban change in Dublin, 1965-75); Still Films (documentary feature Build Something Modern); GradCAM colleagues (co-convenors of five-day conference arts research: publics and purposes).

Current Supervision

Caoimhe McMahon
Making, Looking, Listening: using research through design to generate and evaluate Task Furniture for Education prototypes

Candace White
Building Typologies for Leisure and Transport in Ireland, 1920-1950

Caroline O’Brien
The material culture of costume at the Royal Canadian Ballet

Eimer O’Brien
The emergence of a modern ecclesiastical style of art in Ireland c. 1950 – 1970

Completed PhD Supervision

Macushla Baudis
Embroidery for Male Suiting in Lyon, 1780-1789: a Cultural Biography of the Designs in the National Museum of Ireland collection presented by J.H. Fitzhenry

Katharina Pfützner
Functionalist Industrial Design Practice in the German Democratic Republic

PhD Teaching

As NCAD Fellow at GradCAM (2009-13), Godson taught a comprehensive structured doctoral programme to c.40 PhD researchers, working in both classroom and one-to-one contexts.

Contact Dr Lisa Godson