Zirwat Chowdhury

A photo of Zirwat Chowdhury
Office: Dodd Hall 247H

Assistant Professor

Fields of Interest: Reception of the Roman Empire in 18th- and 19th-Century British Art, Imperialisms, Interconnected Historiographies of Art and Visual Culture in Europe, South Asia, and the Atlantic World


  • PhD, Art History, Northwestern University (2012)


Zirwat Chowdhury is Assistant Professor in the Department of Art History, and her 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. 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.

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.