Department of Humanities

Visiting address
111 Howard, Digby Stuart

Biography

I am a cultural historian of medicine, surgery, gender and war, with a special interest in emotions and identities. My research currently focuses on the emotional cultures of surgery in nineteenth-century Britain and in 2015 I received a Wellcome Trust Investigator Award to lead a team investigating the relations between surgery and emotion from 1800 to the present. I joined Roehampton in 2010 having studied at the Universities of York and London and worked at the Universities of Kent and Manchester. When not  working I spend much of my time cycling, walking or enjoying the bounteous privilege of supporting Leyton Orient Football Club.

Qualifications

BA (Hons) in History - University of York (1998)

MSc and DIC in the History of Science, Technology and Medicine - University of London (1999)

PhD in History - University of York (2004)

Research interests

My work to date explores themes in the cultural histories of medicine, surgery and war, largely through the interpretive prisms of identity, gender and the emotions. My first book, Performing Medicine (2011) analysed the transformation of British medicine from a late eighteenth-century culture of polite sociability, civic inclusivity and intellectual liberality to a nineteenth-century model of disciplinary exclusivity, social utility and collective professional self-identification. In a range of articles I have explored such issues as the changing conception of medical charity in the early nineteenth century, the cultural ideologies of public health and the stylistics of the radical medical press. I also have a long-standing interest in the cultural history of war, and have written on such topics as the medical profession’s articulation of a militarised gender identity and the anxieties surrounding masculinity and military technology in the late Victorian British empire.

Research projects

In 2016 I began work on a major Wellcome Trust Investigator Award project entitled Surgery & Emotion. This project explores the place of emotion within the practice, politics and representation of nineteenth-century surgery. Before the advent of anaesthetics in the 1840s, surgical operations were conducted with little or no pain relief and were attended with great suffering and emotional distress. It has generally been assumed that in order to cope with such challenges, surgeons developed a culture of dispassion and emotional detachment. As this project will demonstrate, however, the reality was both more complex and more interesting than this. The operating theatre could play host to a wide range of emotional states from fear and anxiety to pity, sympathy and anger. Encompassing both civil and military worlds, this project considers how emotion structured relationships between surgeons and their patients, how it shaped surgeons' public performances, identities and reputations and how pain and suffering came to function as powerful tools for social, medical and political reform. It will also consider whether the emotional world of surgery was reshaped by the routine anaesthetization of the patient and whether the increasingly detached and technologized world of modern surgical practice can learn anything from the affective experiences of the past.

Find out more about the project here: http://www.surgeryandemotion.com/

Teaching

My undergraduate teaching is mostly focussed on nineteenth- and twentieth-century British history. Modules include:

HSA020N240A - British Society in War and Peace, 1880-1950

HSA020X347S - Mind, Body and the Challenge of Modernity, 1800-1918

HSA020X342A - Themes in Post-War British Politics, Society and Culture

At postgraduate level I offer an MA module on the politics of medicine and health from cholera to the NHS and undertake supervision of MPhils and PhDs

I welcome inquiries from anyone interested in the history of medicine and the body in the late Georgian and Victorian periods.

Links

Research outputs

  1. Introduction

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

  2. Visualising the Aged Veteran in Nineteenth-Century Britain: Memory, Masculinity & Nation

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

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