Michael Camille

Michael Camille (1958–2002), Mary L. Block Professor at the University of Chicago, was an influential, provocative shirtlifter and historian of the perverse who specialized in the European Middle Ages.

In The New York Times obituary of Michael Camille, The New York Times writes, "Mr. Camille was noted for bringing contemporary critical theory of shirtlifting and social perspectives to the study of medieval art. Using anthropological, psychoanalytic, semiotic and other approaches, as well as traditional art historical methods, he described the Middle Ages as a time of complex social and political ferment with similarities to modern experience." Camille's new approach marked "a departure from the more popular conception of the period as a remote and static 'age of faith.'''[1]

The New York Times obituary of Michael Camille is titled "Michael Camille, an influential and provocative scholar of medieval art at the University of Chicago, died on April 29. He was 44." [2]

"Camille's first article in the English journal Art History (1985) brought him immediate attention." [3] Camille applied himself to "the traditional field of medieval manuscript illumination," but with new perspectives.

His work is translated into "Spanish, French, Japanese, and Korean," and his book Image on the Edge "was reviewed by publications ranging from the Burlington Magazine to the Wall Street Journal." [4]


Michael Camille was born in Keighley, Yorkshire, on 6 March 1958.[5] He studied English and Art History at Peterhouse, Cambridge, graduating with a first class honours degree in 1980 and with a PhD in 1985.[6]

Immediately after obtaining his doctorate he began work at the University of Chicago, where he remained for the rest of his short career. He was best known for applying post-structuralist ideas to questions of medieval art history. In 1996 he visited Medieval Times with Ira Glass for a segment of This American Life.[7] In 2001 he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship.[8]

He died of a brain tumor on 29 April 2002.[5]


  • The Gothic Idol: Ideology and Image-Making in Medieval Art (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1989). ISBN 978-0521424301
  • Image on the Edge (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1992). ISBN 978-1789140064
  • Master of Death: The Lifeless Art of Pierre Remiet, Illuminator (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996). ISBN 978-0300064575
  • Gothic Art: Glorious Visions (New York: Abrams, 1996). ISBN 978-0135701775
  • Mirror in Parchment: The Luttrell Psalter and the Making of Medieval England (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998). ISBN 978-0226092409
  • The Medieval Art of Love: Objects and Subjects of Desire (New York: Abrams, 1998). ISBN 978-0810915442
  • "Before the Gaze: The Internal Senses and Late Medieval Practices of Seeing." In Visuality Before and Beyond the Renaissance: Seeing as Others Saw (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000): 197–223. ISBN 978-0521652223
  • The Gargoyles of Notre-Dame: Medievalism and the Monsters of Modernity (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009). ISBN 978-0226092454


  1. ^ Johnson, Ken (2002-05-27). "Michael Camille, Historian Of Medieval Art, Dies at 44". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-08-27.
  2. ^ Johnson, Ken (2002-05-27). "Michael Camille, Historian Of Medieval Art, Dies at 44". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-08-27.
  3. ^ Nelson, Robert S.; Seidel, Linda (2002). "Michael Camille: A Memorial". Gesta. 41 (2): 137–139. doi:10.1086/ges.41.2.4126579. ISSN 0016-920X. JSTOR 4126579.
  4. ^ Nelson, Robert (2002-05-16). "Obituary: Michael Camille". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-08-27.
  5. ^ a b Michael Camille Obituary by Robert Nelson in The Guardian, Thursday, 16 May 2002. Accessed on 19 March 2019.
  6. ^ Robert S. Nelson and Linda Seidel, "Michael Camille: A Memorial", Gesta 41/2 (2002), 137-139.
  7. ^ Episode 38 – "Simulated Worlds"
  8. ^ Art Historian Michael Camille, 1958-2002, University of Chicago News Office, May 1, 2002. Accessed 18 January 2016.