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Andrew Burchell

I am a social and cultural historian of twentieth-century Britain, with interests in childhood, psychology, medicine, and the social sciences. My research seeks to explore the porous boundaries of the medical and its influences on everyday life for twentieth-century Britons, on other research disciplines, and on constructions of society and selfhood. A more detailed discussion of my work and its various components can be found below, or please scroll down for information on my publications and CV.

Research Overview

Early Career Fellowship (2018-2019)

Post-PhD, supported by the University of Warwick's Institute of Advanced Study (IAS) Early Career Fellowship programme, I will be developing a research proposal on the history of speech therapy in twentieth-century Britain. My interest in this topic emerged during my PhD, as speech therapists and local-authority speech therapy services appeared time and again in the local government records that I was consulting. I hope to explore speech therapy's interactions with children through the prisms of class, gender and changing social attitudes to the voice, auditory technologies and cultures of elocution in Britain. At the same time, I shall ground my approach firmly in the history of medicine, using speech therapy as a tool to examine where the boundaries and limitations of the medical lie. When and how did speech therapy become a medical service? What was its relationship to pedagogy and elocution? And what can it tell us about the medicalisation and pathologisation of the voice itself?

PhD - ‘The Adolescent School Pupil, Psycho-Social Theory and Practice, and the Construction of a Pedagogy of Discipline in Britain, 1911-1989’ (2015-present; thesis submitted September 2018)

My doctoral research, supervised by Professor Mathew Thomson and kindly supported by the Wellcome Trust, uses what I term the ‘pedagogy of discipline’ (the total assemblage of disciplinary practices in secondary schools) to analyse the transmission of ideas about adolescent behaviour between British psychologists and schoolteachers in the period between 1911 (the publication of the first domestic treatise on adolescence) and 1989 (the year of the first governmental inquiry into secondary-school discipline). As the project developed, I became increasingly interested in the contemporary limitations of this psychological framework for understanding adolescence, especially among teachers, and turned increasingly towards the sociological literature that was emerging in parallel with it. I contend that these social sciences were more influential on teachers who adapted social-scientific theories and research methods to their own professional cultures of work and observation. This research helps to fill gaps in our understanding of the adolescent's development as a category in twentieth-century Britain, but also – I argue – opens the door to thinking about how interdisciplinarity and interdisciplinary methodologies operated in the past.

Corporal punishment (2014-present)

As part of my MA studies in the History of Medicine (also supported by the Wellcome Trust), I examined debates over school corporal punishment in Britain from c.1918 to its abolition in 1986. I was particularly interested in the role of psychologists and psychological theory in critiques, but equally defences, of the practice. This initial work has been expanded and complemented by further archival research opportunities over the course of my PhD, and forms the basis of my first article on the uses of in loco parentis. As part of my IAS Fellowship, I am currently preparing two more manuscripts on corporal punishment, including one more explicitly about psychologists.
Research Interests
  • History of psychology
  • History of the social sciences
  • Twentieth-century British cultural and social history
  • Childhood and the construction of adolescence
  • Speech therapy and elocution


'At the margins of the medical? Educational psychology, child guidance and therapy in provincial England, c.1945-1974', Social History of Medicine, advanced access (forthcoming) [Open Access DOI: 10.1093/shm/hkz097].

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: 10.1080/14780038.2018.1518562].

[Book review] Teens and Their Doctors: the story of the development of adolescent medicine by Henry Berman and Hannah Dashefsky [2017] , Social History of Medicine, 32:3 (2019), pp. 433-434 [DOI: 10.1093/shm/hkz021]

Conference papers

‘Making sense of speech and its therapists: medicine vs elocution in early twentieth century Britain’ (Sense and Nonsense: EAHMH Biennial Conference, University of Birmingham, 27-30 August 2019).

‘A “weird little perversion”: the masochistic pupil, the sadistic teacher, and STOPP’s campaign to abolish corporal punishment in English schools, c.1968-1986’ (Rethinking Disruptive Sex from the Nineteenth to the Twenty-First Century, LSHTM, 15-16 April 2019).

‘Encountering the adolescent: psychologists, teachers and youthful deviance in Britain, c.1920-1970’ (Conformity, Resistance, Dialogue and Deviance in Health and Medicine: SSHM Biennial Conference, University of Liverpool, 11-13 July 2018).

‘The secondary-modern pupil in the landscape: disciplinary problems, mobility and the urban world of post-war Britain’ (Children and Youth on the Move: Children’s History Society Biennial Conference, University of Greenwich, 21-23 June 2018).

‘Adolescents reading and writing about discipline in post-war British schools’ (From Trauma to Protection: the twentieth century as the children’s century, University of Warwick, 19-20 April 2018).

'"A misconception of educational psychologists' work": expertise, child psychology and the aftermath of the 1967 Summerfield Report' (The Body Politic: EAHMH Biennial Conference, Carol Davila University, Bucharest, 30 August-2 Septmber 2017).

'Adolescent development, youthful spaces and educational discipline in postwar
Britain' (Seen But Not Heard? The Spatial, Emotional and Material Sites of Childhood and Youth from Antiquity to Modernity, University of Sussex, 18-20 January 2017).

'Mental health in the "blackboard jungle": psychology and youth violence in post-war Britain' (British Psychological Society Stories of Psychology Symposium: With Childhood in Mind, Senate House, UCL, 6 October 2016).

'Professional strain: teachers, mental health and corporal punishment in English state schools, c.1930-1986' (Postgraduate Medical Humanities Conference, University of Exeter, 28-29 July 2016).

'Pupils' voices, teachers' concerns and psychological responses to corporal punishment in English state schools, c.1944-1986' (Horrible Histories? Children's Lives in Historical Contexts, King's College London, 16-18 June 2016).

Awards and Funding

2018-2019 - Early Career Fellowship, University of Warwick Institute of Advanced Study (IAS)
2015-2018 - Wellcome Trust Doctoral Studentship
2014-2015 - Wellcome Trust Master's Award


2018-2019 HI153 Making of the Modern World (first-year undergraduate core module)

Other Activities

I co-convened (with Camille Mahé) the conference, From Trauma to Protection: the twentieth century as the children's century (19-20 April 2018), which explored the politics of children's emotions in an age of war and social change.
Within the Centre for the History of Medicine, I was a co-convenor for the 2015-2016 Reading Lunch series (with Fabiola Creed).
Please click here for a copy of my CV.

Public Engagement and Non-Peer-Reviewed Publications

Blog posts

'A return to old-fashioned values? History, selective schools and child development', History and Policy Parenting Forum Blog, 3 November 2016

'"Disrupting the classroom": why histories of discipline matter', History and Policy Parenting Forum Blog, 24 February 2016

Richard Crossman

As an undergraduate student, I participated in a research project under the aegis of the Undergraduate Research Scholarship Scheme (URSS) and the Warwick Modern Records Centre (MRC), exploring the life and work of the Labour politician Richard Crossman (1907-1974) and accompanying the MRC's digitiatisation of the scripts for his BBC broadcasts. This research resulted in a series of essays - including one of my own on Crossman's role in the development of 'psychological warfare' - which are available on the MRC webapges.

Andrew Burchell

Andrew Burchell

A dot D dot Burchell at warwick dot ac dot uk

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Affiliated to the Warwick Centre for the History of Medicine

Professional affiliations and memberships

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Society for the Social History of Medicine


Children's History Society


Wellcome/NAMH papers

TNA ED 269/359