I am a medical and cultural historian of modern Britain. I am currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Roehampton, working on the Wellcome Trust funded project, ‘Surgery & Emotion’
, which explores the affective landscape of surgery from c.1800 to the present day. My research on the project looks at emotions in surgery from the foundation of the NHS in 1948 to the present day. Using oral history interviews with currently practising and recently retired surgeons I am exploring their personal and professional lives, paying particular attention to the emotional costs of care and their relationship to the British health service. In addition, I look at cultural representations of surgeons and surgery focusing on mid-twentieth-century medical romance fiction.
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’. 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).
Prior to commencing my PhD I completed an MSc in the History of Science, Technology and Medicine at Imperial College London and UCL and a BA in Modern History at the University of Oxford. I also have professional experience in public, sexual, and reproductive health, and international development.