Her research interests lie broadly in the architectural humanities, intellectual history in architecture, and the cultural studies of architecture: in its production, reproduction, and reception. Her doctoral thesis, ‘On the Object of the Museum and its Architecture,’ examined the cultural politics of architecture in recent social history museums. Current research projects examine experimental writing practices in architecture, oral history as a disruptive method in architectural research, and the representation of architecture and architects in popular media – film, television, and literature. She is currently working on a book about the allure of miniature buildings.
Stead was a co-investigator on the 2010-2013 ARC Discovery project ‘The Cultural Logic of Queensland Architecture: Place, Taste and Economy’ with Professor John Macarthur and Dr Deborah van der Plaat. She was the leader of the 2010-2014 ARC Linkage project ‘Equity and Diversity in the Australian Architecture Profession: Women, Work and Leadership,’ and as part of that was co-founder with Justine Clark and others of Parlour, an activist group advocating for greater gender equity in architecture. She was a co-author of the award-winning Parlour Guides to Equitable Practice, co-curator of the exhibition Portraits of Practice: At Work in Architecture, and she is an associate editor of the Parlour website.
Stead edited the 2012 book Semi-Detached: Writing, Representation and Criticism in Architecture (Uro, Melbourne, 2012) and was co-editor of the Taylor and Francis journal Architectural Theory Review from 2010-2014. She was also from 2011-2015 co-editor of Culture Unbound: Journal of Current Cultural Research, based in Sweden.
Stead holds a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of South Australia and a PhD from the University of Queensland. She has been a visiting postdoctoral fellow at the Advanced Cultural Studies Institute of Sweden, and a funded keynote speaker at three national and international conferences. Her scholarly work has been published in anthologies such as Critical Architecture (Jane Rendell et al. eds, Routledge, London, 2007), Architecture and Authorship (Katja Grillner et al. eds, Black Dog, London, 2007) and Architecture, Disciplinarity and Art (Andrew Leach and John Macarthur eds, A & S Books, Ghent, 2009). With Prof John Macarthur of UQ, she co-edited the Aesthetics section of the Sage Handbook of Architectural Theory (C. Greig Crysler, Stephen Cairns and Hilde Heynen eds, Sage, London, 2012). She has also published in journals including the Journal of Architecture,Volume, OASE, Performance Research, JAS: Journal of Australian Studies, the Journal of Visual Communication and the Open Museums Journal.
Stead also maintains a number of ‘para-academic’ writing, exhibition, and art projects. These include the 2009 exhibition ‘Mapping Sydney: Experimental Cartography and the Imagined City’ and its accompanying catalogue; a series of short films made in 2009 for the UTS Equity and Diversity Unit in collaboration with Sam Scotting; an ongoing writing collaboration with Dr Katrina Schlunke of UTS, and the visual research project Documentation: The Visual Sociology of Architects. She has written artists exhibition catalogue essays for Todd Robinson, Mathieu Gallois, Mat Rogers, and Sandra Kaji-O'Grady.
Stead is widely published as an art and architectural critic in Australia, having written more than fifty commissioned feature and review articles in professional magazines over the last decade. These include Places Journal, Architecture Australia (of which she was a contributing editor between 2003-2012), Architectural Review Asia Pacific, Monument, Artichoke, Pol:Oxygen, and [Inside]: Australian Design Review. In 2008 she was awarded the Adrian Ashton Prize for architectural writing by the NSW chapter of the Australian Institute of Architects.
Stead is presently the architecture columnist for The Conversation, where she writes about architectural culture and issues for a generalist audience, and also a columnist for Places Journal, where she writes broad-based essays on concepts and mythologies within and without architecture.
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