Participant Info

First Name
Last Name
University of Leeds
Website URL
history of medicine, mental health, photography, patients, asylums, institutions, psychiatry, nineteenth century, visual culture
Additional Contact Information

Personal Info

About Me

My research explores the ways in which photography interacted with medical knowledge and practice, particularly when it became part of the patient-doctor encounter in the second half of the nineteenth century. Additionally, I am interested in the camera in Victorian institutions more generally, and the relationship between power, control, agency, and photographic technologies. My research examines how historians can use photographic and visual sources in their work. It contributes to the histories of madness, of photography, and of institutions but, primarily, to the history of patients. It explores patients’ complex interactions with doctors who were also photographers, the ways their bodies and conditions were displayed and appropriated through photography, and the ways in which patient images reflected and were informed by discourses of degeneration, abnormality, otherness, and non-medical photographic conventions.

I am currently a Wellcome Trust ISSF Fellow in the Medical Humanities. My research project Photomania: Anxiety, The Camera, and Diseases of Modernity in Britain examines the relationship between photography and health and well-being from 1850 onwards, to explore the ways photography itself (the practice, the consumption, and the concept of it) was seen as a disease of modernity, that could damage both the individual and society at large. The current fascination and concern with self-image, photographic mis-representation, and over-exposure to inappropriate images was foreshadowed by anxieties in the Victorian age. While most of the discourse on photography focuses on the democratization of the image, the camera as opening up new worlds and experiences, less attention has been paid to the anxiety that accompanied its invention and the perceived damage it could do to both individual and societal health.

I have taught Modern British Social and Cultural History and the History of Medicine at Royal Holloway University of London (2009-2011), the University of Greenwich (2010-2012), and the University of Warwick (2014-15). I was Honorary Research Associate at the Centre for the Study of the Body and Material Culture (CSBMC) at Royal Holloway, University of London from 2013-16 and Associate Fellow at the Centre for the History of Medicine (CHM) at the University of Warwick, 2015-17.

Recent Publications


‘“She sits all day in the attitude depicted in the photo:” Photography and The Psychiatric Patient in the Late-Nineteenth Century’, Medical Humanities, Special issue on communicating mental health (June 2017), 43;2, pp.99-110.

Book review:

Joanna Bourke, The Story of Pain: From Prayer to Painkillers (Oxford: OUP, 2014), Women’s History (Autumn 2017), 9, p.18.

Media Coverage
Country Focus
Expertise by Geography
England, United Kingdom
Expertise by Chronology
19th century, Modern, 20th century
Expertise by Topic
Gender, Medicine, Science, Women