Dr Alex Buchanan BA (hons), MSc, PhD, Dip. Arch & RM

Senior Lecturer in Archive Studies History



    In terms of archives, I'm primarily interested in exploring their uses other than for historical research. I've been involved in two AHRC-funded research projects: 'Memories of Mr Seel's Garden' and 'Sustaining Time', both of which have worked with community and activist groups and used archives both to research the past and to imagine alternative futures. I have also explored the use of archives in artistic practice and the materiality and affect of archival documents.

    I currently co-supervise four PhD students working on archival projects on commmunity archives, the archives of art dealers and archives as a source for research into water management. Three of these are collaborative projects with the National Gallery and Staffordshire Record Office respectively.

    Architectural discourse

    My architectural history research looks in particular at the post-medieval reception, interpretation and use of medieval architecture. I am fascinated by how medieval buildings continue to shape and be shaped by both our everyday experience and our highest ideals. I am also interested in the status of architecture as evidence. More specifically, my research falls within 4 main areas:

    - Architectural writers of the nineteenth-century revisited (work on Willis, Ruskin, Freeman, Viollet-le-Duc, Pugin etc)
    - Medieval architecture and meanings (the interpretation of the medieval monument in the post-medieval period)
    - Unspeakable architecture (architectural terminology)
    - Text and place

    Developing from this is an interest in the role of architecture in literture in the years around 1800. I am particularly interested in reformist interest in architecture and its place in constructing future society.

    I am currently co-supervising a student working on architecture and slavery in the Atlantic world in the period before the abolition of the British transatlantic slave trade.

    Medieval architecture

    Through my work on Robert Willis and my pre-existing interest in medieval architecture, I have started to use digital methods to return to the questions posed by Willis in his 1842 paper 'On the construction of the vaults of the Middle Ages'. Working with Dr Nick Webb in the School of Architecture, the project 'Tracing the Past' has scanned vaults at the cathedrals of Chester, Wells, Exeter and Ely, as well as Ottery St Mary and St Mary, Nantwich, which we are now interrogating using digital methods of 'reverse engineering' to try to identify methods of design and construction to ask questions of chronology, building site practices and knowledge transfer between sites.

    Research Grants

    Memories of 'Mr Seel's Garden': Engaging with historic and future food systems in Liverpool


    February 2012 - January 2013

    Making Time: Exploring the emergent times of alternative economies


    February 2013 - October 2013