About

Dr Agnes Arnold-Forster

I am a medical and cultural historian of modern Britain. At the moment, I am a Postdoctoral Research and Engagement Fellow at the University of Roehampton, working on the Wellcome Trust funded project, ‘Surgery & Emotion’, which explores the affective landscape of surgery from c.1800 to the present day. As part of this project, I am writing a book for Manchester University Press called Cold, Hard Steel: The Surgical Stereotype Past & Present. You can see the rest of my project publications here.  

In September 2020, I will take up an Early Career Fellowship at the Elizabeth Blackwell Institute at the University of Bristol. My project there is called ‘Working and Feeling in the Modern British Hospital’ and will explore the ideologies, experiences, and emotions of work in these unusual institutions. To develop some of these ideas, I am co-editing a collection of essays with Dr Alison Moulds for Bloomsbury called Working and Feeling in Modern History: Emotional Labour and Emotions about Labour.

I received my PhD from King’s College London in 2017. My thesis was entitled ‘A Riddle of the Sphinx: Cancer in Britain, 1792-1914’. I have turned my thesis into a book, The Cancer Problem: Malignancy in Nineteenth-Century Britain, which will be out with Oxford University Press in January 2021.

This book offers the first medical, cultural, and social history of cancer in nineteenth-century Britain. It begins by looking at a community of doctors and patients who lived and worked in the streets surrounding the Middlesex Hospital in London. It follows in their footsteps as they walked the labyrinthine lanes and passages that branched off Tottenham Court Road; then, through seven chapters, its focus expands to successively include the rivers, lakes, and forests of England, the mountains, poverty, and hunger of the four nations of the British Isles, the reluctant and resistant inhabitants of the British Empire, and the networks of scientists and doctors spread across Europe and North America.

This book offers the first medical, cultural, and social history of cancer in nineteenth-century Britain. It begins by looking at a community of doctors and patients who lived and worked in the streets surrounding the Middlesex Hospital in London. It follows in their footsteps as they walked the labyrinthine lanes and passages that branched off Tottenham Court Road; then, through seven chapters, its focus expands to successively include the rivers, lakes, and forests of England, the mountains, poverty, and hunger of the four nations of the British Isles, the reluctant and resistant inhabitants of the British Empire, and the networks of scientists and doctors spread across Europe and North America.

The Cancer Problem argues that it was in the nineteenth century that cancer acquired the unique emotional, symbolic, and politicized status it maintains today. Through an interrogation of the construction, deployment, and emotional consequences of the disease’s incurability, this book reframes our conceptualization of the relationship between medicine and modern life and reshapes our understanding of chronic and incurable maladies.

I work closely with health professionals and policymakers and am invested in finding useful and productive connections between past and present. Please do get in touch.

2 thoughts on “About

  1. Agnes — couldn’t find a email — Claire just sent me your Fitzharris — just to say well done — a super piece & thanks for the kind citations – do you want to send me an address – I don’t belong to any social media — Best Chris L

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