I am a medical and cultural historian of modern Britain. I am currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Roehampton, working on the Wellcome Trust funded project, ‘Surgery & Emotions’, which explores the affective landscape of surgery from c.1800 to the present day. I am also a Visiting Research Fellow at the Max Planck Centre for the History of Emotions, and an editor for the blog, Notches: Remarks on the History of Sexuality.
I recently submitted my PhD thesis, undertaken at King’s College London, entitled ‘A Riddle of the Sphinx: Cancer in Britain, 1792-1914’. My doctoral research used cancer as a lens through which to reconsider medical identity, therapeutic change, and the intellectual life of death in the long nineteenth century. Through extensive analysis of hospital archives, surgical tracts and treatises, and medical journal articles in both English and French, I argued that cancer was constructed as a disease of civilisation – an unintended consequence of social and biological progress. My thesis tracked cancer’s journey through a range of medical and scientific disciplines; including public health, histology, bacteriology, and colonial medicine. While my study was focused on the Four Nations of the British Isles, it situated the cultural history of cancer in its international context, tracing its contours across Europe, North America, and the British Empire. It acknowledged the transnational nature of nineteenth-century medicine, and argued that cancer’s identification as a ‘disease of modern life’ was a product of comparisons drawn between ‘civilised’ and ‘uncivilised’ bodies, and between ‘improved’ and ‘unimproved’ ways of living. This research was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).