Zirwat Chowdhury’s research and teaching explore the interconnected histories and historiographies of art and visual culture in Britain, France, South Asia, and the Atlantic world in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Her research has been supported by the Hellman Society of Fellows at UCLA, Getty Research Institute (NEH Postdoctoral Fellowship), William Andrews Clark Memorial Library/Center for 17th– and 18th-Century Studies at UCLA (Ahmanson-Getty Postdoctoral Fellowship), Institute of Historical Research (Mellon Dissertation Fellowship), Huntington Library (Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship), Paul Mellon Center for Studies in British Art, and the Yale Center for British Art. She is also an alumna of the Attingham Summer School (’13) and Royal Collection Studies (’18).
Dr. Chowdhury served as Journal 18’s Notes & Queries Editor from 2019-2021.
Prior to joining the Department of Art History at UCLA, she taught at Reed College and Bennington College. She also served as the Community Development Director for the Town of Bennington in Vermont.
Ph.D. Northwestern University, Art History, 2012
Dr. Chowdhury’s current book project, Enlightened Relations: 18th-Century British Art and the Indies examines how British painting—by artists who never traveled beyond Britain or the Mediterranean world—was transformed by the social relations of empire. It deploys the lens of the “Indies” to foreground the indeterminate and unstable processes of conquest that connected Britain, South Asia, and the Atlantic world within an entangled imperial geography. Tracing how new conceptions of artistic form in aesthetic philosophy and art theory translated philosopher John Locke’s theorization of space as the formal relations between the figures that occupy it, the book demonstrates how painterly compositions became important sites for discerning social relations at a global scale.
- “The Sovereign Betel in Eighteenth-Century Bengal and Bihar,” in Things Change: Art and Material Culture in the Global Eighteenth Century, ed. Kristel Smentek and Wendy Bellion (London: Bloomsbury Visual Arts, 2023), 133-157.
- “Claude Lévi-Strauss’s Population Figures,” in Getty Research Journal 17 (2023): 107-124.
- “Ces pendants, Cependant,” H-France Forum 17, no. 5 (2022).
- “A Questionnaire on Global Methods,” October, no. 180 (Spring 2022): 3-17.
- “Rabble, Rubble, Repeat.” Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture 51 (2022): 267-273.
- “George Dance the Younger Sets Guildhall Alight,” Journal18 Issue 11: The Architectural Reference (Spring 2021).
“Blackness, Immobility & Visibility in Europe: A Digital Collaboration,” Journal18 (September 2020).
- “An Imperial Mughal Tent and Mobile Sovereignty in Eighteenth-Century Jodhpur,” Art History 38, no. 4 (September 2015): 668-681.
- “Lemonade’s Enlightenment.” Journal18 (July 2016).
- “Blackness, Immobility & Visibility in Europe (1600-1800) – A Collaborative Timeline,” Journal18 (September 2020).