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Professor Mathew Thomson

Contact Information:

Office: Room 3.69, third floor, Faculty of Arts Building

Office Hours for Autumn Term 2021-2: Mondays and Wednesdays 12-1 (H310) or email to make an alternative appointment.



Current Positions
  • Director, Centre for the History of Medicine
  • Professor, Department of History
  • Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator (Cultural History of the NHS)
  • Deputy Director of Warwick's Centre for Mental Health and Wellbeing Research
Academic Profile
  • BA History, University College London 1987; D. Phil., Oxon, 1992.
  • Wellcome University Award Holder, Department of History, University of Sheffield, 1993-8
  • Lecturer and Reader, Department of History, University of Warwick, 1998-2015
Undergraduate Modules
Postgraduate Modules
  • The Problem of Mental Deficiency: Eugenics, Democracy and Social Policy in Britain, 1870-1959 (Oxford University Press, 1998).
  • Psychological Subjects: Identity, Culture and Health in Twentieth-Century Britain (Oxford University Press, 2006). Review ; Review Symposium.
  • Lost Freedom: The Landscape of the Child and the British Post-War Settlement (Oxford University Press, 2013).
  • 'Sterilisation, Segregation and Community Care: Ideology and Solutions to the Problem of Mental Deficiency in Inter-War Britain', History of Psychiatry, iii (1992).
  • 'Social Policy and the Management of the Problem of Mental Deficiency in Inter-War London', London Journal, 18 (1993), 129-42.
  • (with Paul Weindling) 'Sterilisationpolitik in Grossbritannien und Deutschland' in F.W. Kersting, K. Teppe & B. Walter (eds.), Nach Hadamar: zum Verhältnis von Psychiatrie und Gesellschaft im 20. Jahrhundert (Ferdinand Schöningh; Paderborn, 1993), pp. 137-49.
  • 'Mental Hygiene as an International Movement', in P. Weindling (ed.), International Health Organisations and Movements, 1918-1939 (Cambridge University Press, 1995).
  • 'Family, Community, and State: the Micro-Politics of Mental Deficiency in Inter-War Britain', in A. Digby & D. Wright (eds.), From Idiocy to Mental Deficiency: Historical Perspectives on People with Learning Difficulties (Routledge, 1996).
  • '"Though Ever the Subject of Psychological Medicine": Psychiatrists and the Colony Solution for Mental Defectives', in G. Berrios & H. Freeman (eds.), 150 Years of British Psychiatry, ii, The Aftermath (1996).
  • "Community Care and Control of Mental Defectives in Inter-War Britain"in P. Horden & R. Smith (eds), The Locus of Care: Historical Perspectives on the Roles of the Family, Community, and Institutions (Routledge, 1998).
  • "Before Anti-Psychiatry: Mental Health in Wartime Britain", in R. Porter & M.Gijswijt-Hofstra (eds.), Cultures of Psychiatry (Rodopi, 1998).
  • "Status, Manpower, and Mental Deficiency in the First World War", in R. Cooter, M. Harrison, and S. Sturdy (eds.), War, Medicine and Modernity (Sutton Press, 1999).
  • "'Savage Civilisation': Race, Culture and Mind in Britain, 1898-1939', in W. Ernst & B. Harris (eds.), Race, Science and Medicine: Racial Categories and the Production of Medical Knowledge, 1700-1960 (Routledge, 1999).
  • "Constituting Citizenship: Mental Deficiency, Mental Health and Human Rights in Britain, 1900-1950"in C. Lawrence & A. Mayer (eds), Regenerating England: Science, Medicine and Culture in Inter-War Britain (Rodopi, 2000).
  • "The Psychological Body" in R. Cooter & J. Pickstone (eds.), Medicine in the Twentieth Century (Harwood, 2000).
  • 'Psychology and the Consciousness of Modernity in Britain, 1900-1950', in M.Daunton & B. Rieger (eds), Meanings of Modernity (Berg, 2000).
  • 'The Popular, the Practical and the Professional: Psychological Identities in Britain, 1900-50', in G. Bunn, S. Lovie, & G. Richards (eds.), Psychology in Britain (British Psychological Society, 2001).
  • 'Neurasthenia in Britain' in M. Gijswijt-Hofstra & R. Porter (eds.), Cultures of Neurasthenia From Beard to the First World War (Rodopi, 2001).
  • ‘Mental Hygiene in Britain during the First Half of the Twentieth Century: The Limits of International Influence’ in V. Roelke, P. Weindling & L. Westwood (eds.), American, British and German Psychiatry in Interwar Europe (University of Rochester Press, 2010).
  • ‘Disability, Psychiatry, and Mental Health’ in The Oxford Handbook of the History of Eugenics, eds. P. Levine & A. Bashford (Oxford University Press, 2010).
  • ‘”The Solution to his own Enigma”: Connecting the life of Montague David Eder (1865-1936), Socialist, Psychoanalyst, Zionist, and Modern Saint’, Medical History (2011).
  • ‘Psychology and the Engineering of Society in Twentieth-Century Britain’, in K. Bruckweh, D. Schumann, R. Wetzell and B, Ziemann (eds.), Engineering Society: The Scientization of the Social in Comparative Perspective, 1880-2000 (Palgrave, 2012).
  • (with John Turner, Rhodri Hayward, Katherine Angel, Bill Fulford, John Hall, and Chris Millard) 'The History of the Mental Health Services in Modern England: Practitioner Memories and the Direction of Future Research', Medical History, 59 (2015), 599-624.
Recent Presentations
  • 'Bowlbyism and the Post-War Settlement' (History and Psychoanalysis Seminar, IHR, 2012)
  • 'Lost in their Own City: Children and the Environment in 1970s Britain' (CCBH Seminar, KCL, 2013)
  • 'The World of Tom Malden: Reflections on the History of the Alternative Psychiatric Narrative' (Alternative Psychiatric Narratives Conference, IHR 2014)
  • 'Photography and the Landscape of the Child in Twentieth-Century Britain' (Photographic Histories of Psychology, De Montfort, 2014)
  • 'Privacy and the Cultural History of the NHS' (Prvacy, Literacy and the Self: Conference in Honour of David Vincent, 2015)
  • 'Party Political Manifestos and the Cultural History of the NHS' (Social History Conference, 2016)
  • 'The Powerful Child and the Cultural History of the NHS' (Magdalen College, Oxford, 2016)
Supervision of Research Projects
    PhD Topics Supervised
    • 'Changing Public Representations of Mental Illness in Britain 1870-1970’ (2004)
    • 'Healing, Touch and Medicine, c. 1890-1950' (2005)
    • 'Breaking Sex: Conceptions and Receptions of Gender Identification in Medical Science and Mass Media 1950-2000' (2006) 
    • 'Industry and the Interior Life: Industrial Experts and the Mental World of Workers in Twentieth-Century Britain' (2009)
    • 'Nurture as well as Nature: Environmentalism in Representations of Women and Exercise in Britain from the 1880s to the early 1920s' (2010)
    • 'Rest and Restitution: Convalescence and the Public Mental Hospital in England, 1919-39' (2011)
    • 'God and Mrs Thatcher: Religion and Politics in 1980s Britain'(2011)
    • 'Lone Motherhood in England, 1945-1990: Economy, Agency and Identity' (2012)
    • 'The War on London: Defending the City from the War in the Air, 1932-1943' (2012)
    • '"In the Gaps and in the Margins": Narratives, Knowledge and Welfare in English Social Work, 1940-1970' (2016)
    • The Carer Movement: The Family, Mental Illness and Disability in Post-War Britain (2014)
    • Psychological Health of RAF Ground Crew in Second World War Britain (2015)
    • 'The Expertise of Experience: Child Abuse and Voluntary Action in Britain, 1970-2015' (2016)
    • '"Finding our own Solutions": The Women's Liberation Movement and Mental Health Care Provision in Post-War England' (2013-)
    • 'The Adolescent School Pupil: Psychosocial Theory and Practice, and the Construction of a Pedagogy of Discipline in Britain, 1911-1989' (2018)
    • 'Remoulding the Chinese Mind: Mental Hygiene Promotion in Republican Shanghai' (2019)
    • Pierre Botcherby, Deindustrialisation in Post-War Britain (2017-)
    • Josh Patel, Economic Thought, Social Equality and the Robbins Report (2017-)
    • Ed DeVane, Building the NHS: Planning, Public Opinion and Britain's New State Healthcare Facilities, 1945-1974 (2018-)
    • Milana Aronov, A History of Autism and Behavioral Therapies as Viewed from the Child's Everyday Life Environments (France, 1960-90)
    Public Engagement and Impact