Faculty of Arts and Humanities

Education and Experience

Rupert Arrowsmith grew up in Kenya, The Seychelles, and Cornwall in the Southwest of England, and was largely home-schooled.  He is an alumnus of Christ Church college of the University of Oxford, and has held research positions at the London University School of Advanced Study, UCL, and at the Firestone Library at Princeton University.  He is an official peer reviewer for Oxford University Press and for Studies in the Novel.

Dr Arrowsmith currently lives in Myanmar, where his activities in Buddhist monasteries have been well documented in the international press, and divides his time between the West and Asia.  He is a Visiting Professor at the Bhau Daji Lad Museum in Mumbai, where he teaches Indian and Western Art History, and is a Director of Myanmar’s Irrawaddy Literary Festival.

Research Interests

Dr Arrowsmith is interested in anything connected with the history of cultural exchange between different parts of the world, especially between Asia and Europe, and between Southern Asia and Eastern Asia.
His first book,
Modernism and the Museum: Asian, African and Pacific Art and the London Avant Garde (OUP 2011), demonstrates that many of the core ideas we associate with the beginnings of Modernist art and literature in the West were actually inspired by items of visual art from other parts of the world that were available to such key figures as Ezra Pound, Jacob Epstein and TE Hulme via London’s museums.
Dr Arrowsmith’s most recent book is a first edition of
The Face of the Buddha by the English poet and literary critic William Empson.  Lost for sixty years, this idiosyncratic discussion of international Buddhist art is the only book of Empson’s never previously to have been published.  Dr Arrowsmith’s substantial introduction to the text and extensive notes make this important work accessible to fans of Empson and to those interested in Asian art alike.  It will be published in January 2015 by OUP with a preface by Partha Mitter and more than a hundred illustrations.
Dr Arrowsmith has also written numerous articles on topics as diverse as Imagist poetry, Myanmar monasticism, Buddhist sculpture, and the Indian modernist painter Angelo da Fonseca.

Selected Publications (excluding book reviews, etc)

Book:  William Empson’s The Face of the Buddha, edited and with a substantial introduction by Rupert Arrowsmith (OUP 2015 (confirmed)).

Modernism and the Museum: Asian, African and Pacific Art and the London Avant Garde (OUP 2011)  download PDF / buy

Major article and cover story:  ‘Angelo da Fonseca: Portrait of an Eclectic Genius’ in Art India Magazine, Fourth Quarter 2014)  download PDF

Chapter in book:  ‘A Meeting with Angelo da Fonseca’ in Mundo Goa, V. Menezes (Ed.), January 2014  download PDF

Article:  ‘Being a monk in Myanmar: Personal transformation in a changing country’, CNN World Report, 15 Oct 2013  read article

Article:  ‘Spring Pictures: The Assymetric Art of William Empson’, Times Literary Supplement, 2 Dec 2011, 18-19  download PDF

Major article and cover story:  ‘Art, Dance & Sex in the Early Twentieth Century’, Wasafiri, Autumn 2011, 39-49  download PDF

Major article:  ‘The Transcultural Roots of Modernism’, Modernism / Modernity, vol.18 no.1 (Jan 2011), 27-42  download PDF

Major article:  ‘An Indian Renascence and the Rise of Global Modernism’, The Burlington Magazine, 152/1285 (2010), 228-235  download PDF

Major article:  ‘Jacob Epstein: The Indian Connection’, The Burlington Magazine, 150/1268 (2008), 742-48  download PDF


‘Cosmopolitanism and Modernism’ - talk on cultural connections between Japan, India and Modernist London given at the London University School of Advanced Study in 2012  watch video

‘Repainting Ajanta: The Global Impact of the Frescoes and their Copies’ - talk given at Oxford University in 2011  listen to podcast


Dr Rupert Arrowsmith