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Dr Andrew Burchell

Research Fellow, 'The Child's Speech: speech therapy, stammering and activism in Britain, c.1906-2000'

Support and feedback hours (for HI2H7 'Measuring Society'): Tuesday, 11.00-12.00, FAB3.69 (or please e-mail for an appointment)

Research overview

Since 2019, I have been working on the history of speech therapy and stammering, funded initially by a Wellcome Trust Discretionary Award ('Childhood and speech therapy in twentieth-century Britain') and now by a Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Humanities and Social Sciences ('The Child's Speech: speech therapy, stammering and activism in Britain, c.1906-2000').

My approach blends archival research, local records and oral history - bringing the histories of activism and therapy into dialogue, to better explore their common foundations and mutual exchanges, and their interactions with other forms of campaigning around class, gender and (dis)ability. I examine the impact of theories about stammering's causation on the emergence of speech therapy as a distinctly medical profession (from its late-nineteenth-century origins in elocution and voice training) and the role of activism around the rights of children and adults who stammer in the medicalisation of stammering.

Prior to this, my PhD thesis explored the place of adolescence in debates over school discipline in twentieth-century Britain and I worked for a short period as a researcher on the 'Cultural History of the NHS' project. From the latter, I have a developing interest in the uses of the Mass-Observation ArchiveLink opens in a new window for telling the history of mental health in twentieth-century Britain.

Dw i'n (anelu) dysgu Cymraeg ac Eidalwr (dw i'n siarad Saesneg a Ffrangeg). I speak English and French (and I am attempting to learn Italian and Welsh). My first degree was in French and History, and I am intrigued by the possibilities of a more diverse and comparative 'British' history which decentres 'Englishness' and is attentive to cultural and linguistic differences between the constituent nations and their respective parts.

 Research interests
  • History of speech therapy and elocution
  • History of psychology, psychiatry and mental health
  • History of the social sciences
  • Twentieth-century British cultural and social history
  • Childhood and the construction of adolescence

'Composing well-being: mental health and the Mass Observation Project in twentieth-century Britain' [with Mathew Thomson], Social History of Medicine, 35:2 (2022), pp. 444-472 [Open Access DOI: 10.1093/shm/hkab104].

'At the margins of the medical? Educational psychology, child guidance and therapy in provincial England, c.1945-1974', Social History of Medicine, 34:1 (2021), pp. 70-93 [Open Access DOI: 10.1093/shm/hkz097Link opens in a new window].

In loco parentis, corporal punishment and the moral economy of discipline in English schools, 1945-1986’, Cultural and Social History, 15:4 (2018), pp. 551-570 [Open Access DOI: 10.1080/14780038.2018.1518562Link opens in a new window].

[Book review] A Progressive Education? How childhood changed in mid-twentieth-century English and Welsh schools by Laura Tisdall [Manchester: MUP, 2019] in Twentieth Century British History [DOI: 10.1093/tcbh/hwaa019Link opens in a new window]

[Book review] Teens and Their Doctors: the story of the development of adolescent medicine by Henry Berman and Hannah Dashefsky [Sagamore Beach, MA: Science History Publications, 2017] in Social History of Medicine [DOI: 10.1093/shm/hkz021Link opens in a new window]


HI153 - Making of the Modern World (2021-2022)

HI2H7 - Measuring Society: Social Sciences and Social Problems in Twentieth-Century Britain

HI907 - Themes and Methods in Medical History