I am based at the Centre for the History of Medicine (CHM) and my recent thesis 'Entertaining the Insane: Recreation in Nineteenth-Century British Asylums' was supervised by Professor Hilary Marland and examined by Professor Mathew Thomson and Dr Rob Ellis. My PhD was generously funded by a Departmental Scholarship and I have subsequently been awarded an Early Career Fellowship at Warwick's Institute of Advanced Study.Link opens in a new window My research interests lie broadly within the social and cultural history of psychiatry in nineteenth-century Britain and abroad, with a particular focus on asylums and alternative, non-pharmacological therapies.
My research focuses on the role of recreational, educational and religious activities in nineteenth-century British asylums, such as concerts, art, sport, reading/writing classes, divine services and plays. These formed part of the moral treatment regime which had evolved around the turn of the century in response to a new belief in the curability of insanity, focusing on kindness, an individualised relationship between doctors and patients, and patient occupation. However, the role of recreation, education and religion within this has so far been under-explored, with activities often brandished as mere tools of social control.
My project addresses the reform versus social control polarity and scrutinises the extent to which confinement, management and therapy can be aligned or consolidated through recreational activities. I challenge the current historical narrative by analysing primary sources such as archival records, medical treatises and reports in the popular and scientific nineteenth-century press. I also explore the interpersonal dynamics these activities engendered and investigate the adaptation of exterior and interior spaces to fit.
In exposing the impact of recreation and religion on the nineteenth-century insane, this project aims to contribute to the growing body of research in the field of Medical Humanities. Identifying the forerunners of art, music and drama therapy, it seeks to reshape public perceptions of institutional care and inform future policy making in mental health.
IAS Early Career Fellow, University of Warwick
PhD, History of Medicine, University of Warwick
MSt, Literature & Arts, University of Oxford (Distinction)
Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE FAHE), University of Wolverhampton
College Lecturer in German, Italian and EFL, Wolverhampton
MA, Classical Archaeology (2.1) and Italian Language and Literature (1st), University of Hamburg, Germany
'Asylum Chapels: Healing Spaces of Worship', in Adam Powell, Kristy L Slominski and Christopher C.H. Cook (eds), Routledge Handbook of Spirituality, Religion, and Medical Humanities (Abingdon/New York, 2024) [forthcoming].
'"Distraction from Hurtful Thoughts": Recreational Activities as Agents of Healing in Nineteenth-Century British Asylums', Medizinhistorisches Journal, 56:1/2 (2021), pp. 30-57 [peer reviewed].
'God Help Us? Religion in Nineteenth-Century Asylums', The Polyphony, 15 August 2023 [online]
Review of Dave Chawner Workshop, ‘How to engage non-academic audiences with your research’, University of Kent, 24 March 2023 [online].
‘Marketplace and Open Space: “A Box of Tricks” at the Inaugural Congress of the NNMHR’, The Polyphony, A Review (5 October 2017) [online].
‘International Network for The History of Hospitals: I’, Conference Report, The Gazette: Society for the Social History of Medicine, 78 (July 2017), pp. 8-10.
'"A Curious Dance Round a Curious Tree": Agency and Amusement in Victorian Asylums', VIDES 3 (Oxford, 2015), pp. 93-102.
‘Carriages to be ordered at Eleven, Horses heads to face the Moon’: Laughter and Recreation in Nineteenth-Century British Asylums, Laughter and Medicine, University of Birmingham, 4-5 November 2024 [forthcoming].
'The Father-Confessor': The Role of the Chaplain in Nineteenth-Century British Asylums, Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion, San Antonio (TX) USA, 18-21 November 2023 [forthcoming].
Art and Beauty in Nineteenth-Century British Asylums, Psychiatry and the Arts in Nineteenth-Century Britain (PAN) Symposium 2, online, 26 October 2023 (invited speaker) [forthcoming].
Recreation as Therapy in Nineteenth-Century British Asylums, RCPsych HoPSIG Autumn Conference, London Metropolitan Archives, 20 October 2023 (invited speaker) [forthcoming].
Religion and the 'Other' in Nineteenth-Century British Asylums, Poster Presentation, Psychology and the ‘Other’ Conference, Boston College, Boston, MA, USA, 6-8 October 2023 [forthcoming].
‘The Divine Art of Healing’: Religion as Therapy in Nineteenth-Century British Asylums, as part of the Religion, Health and Humanities Researchers (RHHR) panel :'Of Ultimate Concern: Spiritual Tools and Technologies for Critical Medical Humanities', Northern Network For Medical Humanities Research Congress, online, 19-21 April 2023 (invited speaker).
'God, the Great Physician': Religious Activities in Nineteenth-Century British Asylums, European Association for the History of Medicine and Health (EAHMH), Leuven (Belgium) and online, 7-10 September 2021.
'Conformity and Cure': Appropriating Social Activities in British Asylums c. 1800-1845, Biennial Conference of the Society for the Social History of Medicine, University of Liverpool, 11-13 July 2018.
'Healthful Indulgences': Recreational Objects and Spaces in the Nineteenth-Century British Asylum, 'Material Cultures of Psychiatry', International Conference at the Department of History and Ethics of Medicine at the University Clinic Hamburg-Eppendof (Germany) in cooperation with the University Luxembourg and the University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Ottersberg, (Deutsch/Englisch), 2-4 May 2018.
‘Das Vergnügen ist unermesslich’: Kunst und Kultur als Heilung in britischen Irrenanstalten des 19. Jahrhunderts, 'Gebessert Entlassen': Heilen in der Psychiatrischen Theorie und Praxis zwischen 1800 und 1970, Institut für Geschichte der Medizin, Universität Heidelberg, Germany, 6-7 April 2018.
'The Pleasure is Intense': Social Activities in British Asylums c. 1800-1890, Inaugural Congress of the Northern Network for Medical Humanities Research, Durham University, 14-15 September 2017.
'Re-tuning' the Mind: Art and Emotion in Nineteenth-Century British Asylums, ‘Emotion and the Arts: An Interdisciplinary History’, ISCH Annual Conference, Umea University, Sweden, 26-29 June 2017.
‘Recreation in Nineteenth-Century Asylums: An Overview and a Theatre Case Study’, Psychiatry and the Arts in Nineteenth-Century Britain (PAN) Symposium, Crichton Institution, Dumfries, 9 June 2023 (invited speaker).
‘A Day in the Life of’, Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance Website, June 2023.
Art and Amusement in Victorian Asylums; ‘History Matters: An Evening of Talks', The George Marshall Medical Museum, Worcester, 4 July 2016.
2018-2019 HI153 Making of the Modern World, Associate Tutor, University of Warwick.
British Association for Victorian Studies (BAVS)
Society for the Social History of Medicine (SSHM)
International Society for Cultural History (ISCH)
European Association for the History of Medicine and Health (EAHMH)
Institute for Medical & Health Humanities and Artistic Research (IMHAR)
Religion, Health and Humanities Researchers (RHHR)
Social History Society
Royal Historical Society, Associate Fellow
Royal College of Psychiatrists, History of Psychiatry Special Interest Group (HoPSIG), Member of the Executive Committee
Exchanges: The Interdisciplinary Research Journal, Member of the Editorial Board
AWARDS and BURSARIES
Full Travel and Accommodation Bursary from the Institute of Advanced Study, University of Warwick, for the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion, San Antonio (TX) USA, 18-21 November 2023 [forthcoming].
Full Travel and Accommodation Bursary, from the Psychiatry and the Arts in Nineteenth-Century Britain (PAN) Network, for the PAN Symposium, Crichton Institution, Dumfries, 9 June 2023.
IAS Early Career Fellowship, Institute of Advanced Study, University of Warwick, 2022-2023.
PhD Departmental Scholarship, University of Warwick 2016-2022.
Travel and Accommodation Bursary from the Steering Group of the Inaugural Congress of the Northern Network for Medical Humanities Research, for their Inaugural Congress, Durham University, 14-15 September 2017.
Full Travel and Accommodation Bursary, from CHM, University of Warwick, for the ISCH Annual Conference in Umeå, Sweden, 26-29 June 2017.
Travel Bursary from the Society for the Social History of Medicine (SSHM), for the Conference ‘Beauty and the Hospital’, University of Malta, 6-8 April 2017.