I am a part-time PhD student researching 'Growing well: Dirt, health and the home gardener in Britain, 1930-1970'. I investigate the relationship between concepts of dirt as healthy soil and dirt as germ-laden filth, in the context of domestic vegetable growing in early and mid-twentieth-century Britain. I explore the changing nature of hygienic domesticity and consider whether this was predicated on the notion of the garden as 'dirty'. This work focuses on cultural understandings of ideas of germs and health in the context of food growing, and uses sources such as newspapers, magazines and periodicals, along with archives of educational bodies and community groups such as the Women's Institute and Co-operative movement, and medical authorities such as Medical Officers of Health. My supervisor is Professor Hilary Marland and I am kindly funded by a Wellcome Trust Doctoral Studentship.
- 2019 Doctoral Fellow, Humanities Research Centre, University of Warwick. Conference: ''Er Indoors': Domesticity and Nature in Home and Garden.
- 2018 Wellcome Trust Secondment Fellowship in Humanities and Social Science.
- 2017 Postgradute Paper Prize, Social History Society Conference, 2017.
- 2014-19 Wellcome Trust Doctoral Studentship (converted to part time after one year).
- 2013-14 MA Bursary (Half fees), History Department, University of Warwick.
- 2013 Dr Joan Lane Research Bursary, History Department, University of Warwick.
- 13-15 June 2019 LabCut film workshop, Quantitative Biomedicine Programme, University of Warwick.
- 24 June-1 July 2017, Ischia Summer School on the History of the Life Sciences 2017, Cycles of Life.
- 2014-19 PhD Student, Centre for the History of Medicine, University of Warwick.
- 2013-14 MA in the History of Medicine, University of Warwick, Merit.
- 2001-3 MA in Museum Studies by Distance Learning, University of Leicester.
- 1994-5 Postgraduate Certificate in Education, University of Cambridge.
- 1990-3 BA (Hons) in History, University of Cambridge.
Publications, Conference Papers and Posters
Review of Roderick Floud, An Economic History of the English Garden (London, 2019) in Agricultural History Review, 69, 1 (2021), 155-6.
'Ster-Izal keeps the soil clean: hygiene and the boundaries of the domestic space in mid-twentieth-century Britain': paper for 'Er Indoors: Domesticity and Nature in Home and Garden, University of Warwick, 23 November 2019.
'Public engagement in the History of Medicine': Roundtable with Professor Hilary Marland (Warwick), Dr Agnes Arnold-Forster (Roehampton and QMUL) and Dr Alison Moulds (Roehampton and Oxford), at EAHMH 2019, Birmingham, 27-30 August 2019.
'Producer or consumer? The house, the garden and the sourcing of vegetables in Britain, 1930-1970', Cultural and Social History, published online 18th April 2019, in print July 2019, Volume 16 Issue 3, pp. 337-357.
‘"Farming and gardening for health or disease": The organic movement’s resistance to scientific and cultural orthodoxy in mid-twentieth-century Britain', paper for Society for the Social History of Medicine Conference, University of Liverpool, 11-13 July 2018.
'"A refuge from the wife": Gender and domesticity in mid-twentieth-century gardens', paper for Social History Society Conference, Keele University, 11-13 June 2018.
'Masculinity, domesticity and power in new suburban gardens, 1930-1970', paper for 'Masculinities in Twentieth Century Britain' workshop, University of Birmingham, 1 June 2018.
‘An outside room designed to give only intangible satisfaction' – health, morality and gardening in Britain, 1930-1970, paper for Urban History Group Conference, Keele University, 5-6 April 2018.
Producer or consumer? The house, the garden and the sourcing of vegetables in Britain, 1930-1970
paper for Social History Society Conference, London, 4-6 April 2017. I wrote a blog for the Social History Society's Research Exchange about the Postgraduate Paper Prize.
Invited talk: 'Can't we DO IT OURSELVES?' The Family Health Club Housing Association in post-war Britain, seminar at Countryside and Community Research Institute, University of Gloucestershire, 20 October 2016.
From 'Dr Carrot' to 'Concrete in Garden Making': domestic design, health and the garden in post-war Britain, paper for Society for the Social History of Medicine conference, Canterbury, 7-10 July 2016.
The Family Health Club Housing Association and urban agriculture in mid-twentieth-century Britain, paper for 'Journee Bernardo Secchi- City soil: Resource and Project', Fondation Braillard, Geneva, 22 Sept 2015.
A clash of values: The Family Health Club Housing Association as an alternative concept of healthy citizenship post-war Britain, paper for European Association for the History of Medicine and Health conference, Cologne, 3rd-5th Sept 2015.
I attended Rethinking Modern British Studies at the University of Birmingham 1-3 July 2015 and wrote a blog entry which can be read here.
A clash of values: The organic movement and the conceptual separation of environment from health in post-war Britain, paper for Warwick History Postgraduate Conference, 28th-29th May 2015.
Growing well: Dirt, health and the home gardener in mid-twentieth-century Britain, paper for British Society for the History of Science Postgraduate Conference, 7-9th January 2015.
'Can't we DO IT OURSELVES?' The separation of environment from health in mid-twentieth-century Britain, poster for Climate and Health Summit, Global Climate and Health Alliance, Lima, Peru, 6th December 2014.
Information, entertainment or advice? -some initial thoughts on public engagement in history, paper for Cafe Enterprise, University of Warwick, 3rd December 2014.
Growing well: Dirt, health and the home gardener in mid-twentieth-century Britain, poster for British Sociological Association Food Study Group Conference: Food and Society, British Library Conference Centre, 30th June 2014.
Growing well: Dirt, health and the home gardener in mid-twentieth-century Britain, paper for Histfest 2014, University of Lancaster, 20th-22nd June 2014.
Review of Geof Rayner and Tim Lang, Ecological Public Health (Abingdon, 2012) in Retrospectives, Postgraduate History Journal, University of Warwick, 3,1 (Spring 2014), 85-8.
'Can't we DO IT OURSELVES?' Health and citizenship in British reconstruction, 1941-50, paper for Warwick History Postgraduate Conference, 29th-30th May, 2014.
During the academic year 2018-19 I undertook a Wellcome Trust Secondment Fellowship in the Humanities and Social Sciences with Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, working on the project 'Hygiene and our relationship with nature - achieving a better balance?'
Physical contact with dirt in the natural world poses a risk of infection. But does our concern to be hygienic limit our familiarity with, and therefore our respect for, the outdoor environment? Do we as a result persist with practices that threaten both our health and that of the planet? Working with Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, based at their Brandon Nature Reserve, I investigated how concerns about hygiene affect interaction between humans and the natural world. The Wildlife Trusts’ website states that ‘We want children to go home with … dirt on their hands and a little bit of nature in their heart.’ But is getting muddy just something for children on a trip? In this project I worked on ways to share the twentieth century history of dirt, health and our relationship with nature to get people thinking about how we keep clean, and whether those choices put up physical and mental barriers to the natural world, barriers that might be preventing us from tackling climate change.
16 September 2019 'Where there's dirt there's danger' talk at Finham WI, Coventry.
13 September 2019 Mud Kitchen activity and 'Where there's dirt there's danger' talk at FarGo takeover for British Science Festival, Coventry.
27-30 August 2019 Panel on Public Engagement in the History of Medicine, EAHMH Conference, University of Birmingham.
21 May 2019 'Where there's dirt, there's danger, or the strange death of Dr Carrot'. Talk at Leila's Shop, Shoreditch, to an invited audience.
October 2018-June 2019: Hygiene and our relationship with nature: Achieving a better balance? Secondment project based at Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, Brandon Marsh. Surveying members of the public and working with pre-school and primary age children in Brandon's popular mud kitchen.
14 November 2018: Speaker at Public Engagement Network Conference, University of Warwick.
24 October 2018: Half Term Activities: Mucky Dip and Seed Sowing at Moat House Community Trust, Coventry.
'Can't we DO IT OURSELVES?': project linking food, health and community, working with Dr Marina Chang of Coventry University and Moat House Community Trust, Coventry. Kindly funded by University of Warwick Food Global Research Priority.
31 January 2018: Soil lucky dip activity at University of Warwick Science Gala.
8 November 2017: Speaker at Public Engagement Network Conference, University of Warwick.
30 September 2017: Speaker for Symposium: Adapt/Modify, a day of discussion in association with the exhibition A Museum of Modern Nature, Wellcome Collection, London.
September 2014- September 2015: Growing well: A recent history of growing your own in Coventry
Exhibition for University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire, organised with UHCW Healing Arts Charity. Launch event involved participation from Garden Organic Master Gardeners and UHCW Dietetics, with fruit baskets kindly donated by Healthy Options Fruit and Veg stall, UHCW. Children's activities were available in outpatients and toured the children's ward. This exhibition was promoted within the university, the hospital and on local radio. Further information is available at the project blog.
2013-2015: Internship scheme between UHCW and Centre for the History of Medicine
Preparation for exhibitions and involvement in reminiscence sessions (with Jane Hand)
2002-3: Curator of George Marshall Medical Museum, Worcester.
Key role in delivery of Wellcome Trust and Heritage Lottery Funded museum project. Duties included: management of transition from previous site; collections care and display; recruitment and management of volunteers; liaison with press, public, artists, healthcare and museum professionals.
2001-2: Education Officer and Oral History Project Officer, George Marshall Medical Museum.
Duties included: Development, resourcing and delivery of a new education program on medical history available to all ages; Oral History Project on the theme of closure of two hospital sites in Worcester: Contact, interview and follow up of a range of staff and patients' memories, archive of Oral History established.
Chair for Centre for the History of Medicine Seminar Eats Shoots, and Heaves, Salad, Science and Medicine, 1870-2000, 2 February 2016. Speaker: Professor Anne Hardy, LSHTM Centre for History in Public Health.
Convenor of 2014-15 Centre for the History of Medicine Reading Lunch Series (with Michelle Davis)
- Teacher of History, Royal Grammar School, Worcester, 1999-2000.
- Teacher of History, Wolverhampton Grammar School, 1995-9. Key Stage 3 co-ordinator: curriculum development, responsible for trips, links with feeder Primary Schools. Dyslexia training and tutoring.
Centre for History of Medicine
University of Warwick