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 National Museum of Ireland (2018-19), the Irish Architecture Foundation (2017) and the Little Museum of Dublin for the Secret Lives of Objects exhibition, symposium and publication (2015).

Recent books include Uniform. Clothing and Discipline in the Modern World (Bloomsbury: 2019 co-edited with Jane Tynan) and Modern Religious Architecture in Germany, Ireland and Beyond. Influence, Process and Afterlife since 1945 (Bloomsbury: 2019 co-edited with Kathleen James-Chakraborty), Making 1916: Material and Visual culture of the Easter Rising (Liverpool University Press: 2015, co-edited with Joanna Bruck); Design learning in an age of austerity (Cumulus: 2015. Her essays include ‘Thus Crucifixes Became the Norm’: System, Affect and Display
in post-Famine Catholicism’ in Mark Fitzgerald et. al. (eds) The Great Irish Famine: Visual and Material Culture (Liverpool University Press 2018), ‘The Speculum and Obstetric Violence’ in Design and Violence (MoMA, 2016) and ‘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 journals including Architectural Review, 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.

An aspect of Godson’s research involves collaborations with creative practitioners – her concept and research on Irish modernist architecture in Africa was the basis of the award-winning feature-length documentary Build Something Modern (Still Films: 2011); she was 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 was research collaborator with Jesse Jones on the Irish Pavilion at the Venice Biennale (2017).

Godson is currently Visiting Research Fellow at the School of Histories and Humanities, Trinity College Dublin. She is a Director of the Irish Architecture Foundation and a Trustee of the Design History Society.





136 Hectres: Urban Material Culture in Dublin 8 (NCAD Gallery, co-curator)


Opening procession, EVA Art Biennale, Limerick (research advisor)




Tremble, Tremble Jesse Jones at the Irish National Pavilion, Venice Biennale of Art (research collaborator)


Grit, Grandeur and One Euro Bananas: Design and Material Culture in Dublin 1 exhibition of NCAD/UCD MA/MFA/M.Arch. research, Irish Architecture Foundation (co-curator)




In the Shadow of the State Jesse Jones and Sarah Browne (research collaborator for year-long Arts Council/Create/Artangel art project, funded as one of the 15 national projects for the centenary of the 1916  Rising)


The Truncheon and the Speculum Liverpool Biennale (co-presenter of live broadcast)          


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




Film and Design in Close-Up National College of Art & Design. One-day public symposium in collaboration with the Audi Dublin International Film Festival




Making Memory: Visual and Material Cultures of Commemoration in Ireland since 1800 National Gallery of Ireland. Three-day conference (sole convenor), funded by Irish Research Council


Images and Objects of a Foundation Myth: the Irish State and Public Memory National Gallery of Ireland ESB Centre for the study of Irish Art/LAB Gallery. One-day public symposium




The Secret Lives of Objects Little Museum of Dublin. One-day public symposium on research into material culture and the history of Dublin




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




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




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




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




Object Matters: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Material Culture Monthly public seminar series, co-organised with School of Archaeology, UCD



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




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

Books Edited



Understanding Uniform: Clothing and Discipline in the Modern World  (co-editor with Jane Tynan, University of the Arts, London) (Bloomsbury UK)


Modern Religious Architecture in Germany, Ireland, and Beyond: Influence, Process and Afterlife since 1945 (co-editor with Kathleen James Chakraborty, UCD) (Bloomsbury USA)



The Secret Lives of Objects (editor) collection of postgraduate research essays on material culture and the history of Dublin (Little Museum of             Dublin)



Making 1916: Material and Visual Culture of the Easter Rising (co-editor with Joanna Brück, UCD/University of Bristol) (Liverpool University Press)



Chapters, journal articles and recent reviews



‘Spaces of the Devotional Revolution’ co-editor with Sarah Roddy, University of Manchester for Journal of Victorian Culture, (24), 4



‘Ireland's Tropical Modernists: Pearse McKenna and the Kiltegan Fathers in Nigeria, 1947-1966’ in Godson and James-Chakraborty (eds.) Modern Religious Architecture in Germany, Ireland, and Beyond (Bloomsbury)


 ‘Nature of nurture: school buildings in Rosmuc and Inis Mór, Ireland, by Paul Dillon Architects’ in Architectural Review 1462 (June, 2019)


‘An Abcdery of Sheep’ in Orla Barry Shaved Rapunzel, Scheherazade and the Shearling Ram from Arcady [artist’s book]  


‘Threads’ in Eamonn Doyle (Fondacion Mapfre, Madrid) [artist catalogue]



‘`Thus Crucifixes Became the Norm': System, Affect, and Display in Post- Famine Catholicism’ in Fitzgerald and Corporaal (eds.) Visual and Material Culture of Famine (Liverpool University Press) 


‘Environmental activism’ in Aikens, Grandas et. al. (eds.) The Long 1980s. Constellations of Art, Politics and Identity (Valiz and L'Internationale, Amsterdam)


Review of Mari Lending, Plaster Monuments: Architecture and the Power of Reproduction (Princeton University Press, 2017) Journal of Design History, 31 (3)


Review of Christine Casey, Making Magnificence: Architects, Stuccatori, and the Eighteenth-Century Interior (Yale University Press, 2017)  Journal of Design History, 31 (1)



‘A Finger, a Handbreath, a Span, a Foot’ in Jesse Jones: Tremble Tremble  (Mousse, Milan) [catalogue for the Irish Pavilion at the Venice Art Biennale]


 ‘Designing reproductive violence: the critical history of the Speculum’ in Borland et. al. (eds.) Design and Violence (MoMA and Science Gallery Dublin)



‘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 (116C)


 ‘1932: Skywriting’ in O’Toole (ed.) Modern Ireland in 100 Artworks (Royal Irish Academy)



Multiple entries for The Bloomsbury Encyclopaedia of Design [3 vols.] (Bloomsbury, London)


‘Religion, ritual and the performance of memory in the Irish Free State’ in Godson and Brück (eds.) Making 1916: material and visual culture of the Easter Rising (Liverpool University Press)



‘Design in Twentieth Century Ireland’ 10,000-word essay for the History of Art and Architecture of Ireland ([5-vols.] Yale University Press/Royal Irish Academy), vol. 5


 ‘Banners’ essay for the History of Art and Architecture of Ireland ([5-vols.] Yale University Press/Royal Irish Academy), vol. 2



‘Visual and material culture in the Atlas of the Great Irish Famine in Irish Geography 46 (3)





Build Something Modern (Dirs: Paul Rowley and Nicky Gogan) Feature-length documentary based on my research about modernist architecture in Africa, c.1945-1975.


Devised concept and research. Cinematic premiere at Jameson Dublin International Film Festival. Listed as one of the top 5 Irish films of 2011 by the Irish Times.


Jane Tynan, Central St Martins University of the Arts London – Uniform: Body and Discipline in the Modern World

Jesse Jones (artist) – research collaborator, eg on Tremble Tremble at the Guggenheim Bilbao (2019) and the Venice Biennale Irish pavilion, 2017

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 based on the conference proceedings, supported by seed funding from the UCD + NCAD alliance was published in 2019.

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.

Membership of boards

Irish Architecture Foundation (Director)
Little Museum of Dublin (advisor)
Darklight Festival (advisor)
Pivot Dublin (advisor)

Design History Society (Trustee)


Recent External Examining

Royal College of Art/Victoria & Albert Museum, London External examiner for MA History of Design (2019-21)
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

Maeve Sookram - Modern Irish interiors, c.1950-1980

Michael Early - Ecclesiastical decoration c.1890-1930

Suzanne Freeman - Artefacts and replication in James Joyce’s Ulysses

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


Completed PhD Supervision

Caoimhe McMahon - Into the Wild. A framework to facilitate in-context prototype evaluation in the later stages of new product development

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

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