Participant Info

First Name
Rebecca
Last Name
Wynter
Affiliation
University of Birmingham
Website URL
https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/staff/profiles/applied-health/wynter-rebecca.aspx
Keywords
British history, eighteenth century, nineteenth century, twentieth century, history of psychiatry, history of asylums and 'epileptic colonies', history of mental health and illness, history of medicine, Quaker history, First World War medicine, the Friends' Ambulance Unit, history of burns injuries, history of complaining and whistleblowing in medicine, conscientious objection, prison history.
Additional Contact Information
r.i.wynter@bham.ac.uk

Personal Info

Photo
About Me

I am a historian of medicine, with expertise in the history of psychiatry and mental health, Quakers during the First World War, and the Friends Ambulance Unit. I work predominantly on the long-nineteenth and the twentieth centuries.

I am a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham ascertaining the details around 1960s and 1970s aversion and conversion therapy research undertaken by individuals linked to the Department of Psychology. Previously, I was the named researcher on the AHRC-funded project, ‘Forged by Fire: Burns Injury and Identity in Britain, c 1800-2000’. Prior to that, I was appointed Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre in 2012, going on to undertake research there and co-curate my first major exhibition at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. I was then Postdoctoral Project Officer for ‘Quakers & the First World War: Lives & Legacies’, a co-production project with Central England Quakers and the University of Birmingham’s School of Education. In between I was a Visiting Fellow at the University of Strathclyde, and held research and fellowship roles at Worcestershire World War 100, and the University of Manchester.

My work broadly considers two main themes: ethics and conscience in medicine and medical reform; and how medicine and science have been communicated and understood.

The core areas of my research career are:

  • asylums, psychiatry and mental health
  • neurosurgery, phantom limbs, epilepsy and learning disability
  • complaints, whistleblowers and patient activism
  • medical volunteering and humanitarianism, particularly during 1914-1919
  • unintended injuries, fire disasters, and coroners
  • and the criminal justice system (especially relating to criminal trials and prisons)

Find out more about me and my work here and here.

Recent Publications

Books

2020 A Quaker Conscientious Objector: The prison letters of Wilfrid Littleboy, 1917-1919, edited and introduction with Pink Dandelion (Bath: Handheld Press).

2014 Complaints, Controversies and Grievances in Medicine: Historical and Social Science Perspectives, edited and introduction with Jonathan Reinarz (London: Routledge).

Journal Articles

2021 ‘Ambition, ‘failure’ and the laboratory: Birmingham as a centre of twentieth-century British scientific psychiatry. The British Journal for the History of Science, 1-22, doi:10.1017/S0007087421000017.

2017 ‘Historical contexts to communicating mental health’ (with Leonard Smith), in Rebecca Wynter and Leonard Smith (eds), ‘Communicating Mental Health’, Medical Humanities, 43 (2), 73-80.

2016 ‘Conscription, Conscience and Controversy: the Friends’ Ambulance Unit and the ‘Middle Course’ in the First World War’, in Pink Dandelion and Rebecca Wynter (eds), ‘Quaker Responses to the First World War’, Quaker Studies, 21 (2), 213-33.

2015 ‘Pictures of Peter Pan: Institutions, Local Definitions of ‘Mental Deficiency’, and the Filtering of Children in Early Twentieth-Century England’, Family and Community History, 18 (2), 122-38.

2011 ‘‘Good in all respects’: appearance and dress at Staffordshire County Lunatic Asylum, 1818-1854’, History of Psychiatry, 22 (1), 40-57.

Chapters

2021 ‘Mind/Brain’ (with Stephen Casper), in Jonathan Reinarz (ed.). A Cultural History of Medicine in the Age of Empire (London: Bloomsbury).

2015 ‘“Horrible Dens of Deception”: Thomas Bakewell, Thomas Mulock and Anti-Asylum Sentiments, c.1815–1858′, in Tom Knowles and Serena Trowbridge (eds), Insanity and the Lunatic Asylum in the Nineteenth Century (London: Pickering & Chatto), 11-28.

2014 ‘The Spirit of Medicine: The use of alcohol in nineteenth-century medical practice’ (with Jonathan Reinarz), in Susanne Schmid and Barbara Schmidt-Haberkamp (eds), Drink in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries: Consumers, Cross-Currents, Conviviality (London: Pickering & Chatto), 121-41

Special Issues

2017 ‘Communicating Mental Health’, Medical Humanities, 43 (2), edited with Leonard Smith.

2016 ‘Quaker Responses to the First World War’, Quaker Studies, 21 (2), edited with Pink Dandelion.

Other Key Publications

2020 ‘Body and Mind: Are we adequately prepared for the toll this pandemic will take on mental health?’, Behind the Times section, History Today, October 2020, pp. 90-93, with Rob Ellis and Rob Light.

2014 ‘What’s in a Name? Shifting Definitions of Epilepsy and its Care, c.1870-1914’, Wellcome History, 21-23.

Media Coverage
Lead historian: 'World War I at Home: The Cadbury Brothers at War' (2014). Aired on: BBC1 Midlands, BBC2, and BBC4. Historian for the Friends' Ambulance Unit segments, 'Behind the Lines: A Great War Nurse and the Fight for Survival', view on YouTube.
Country Focus
United Kingdom
Expertise by Geography
British Isles, England, United Kingdom, Western Europe
Expertise by Chronology
18th century, 19th century, Modern, 20th century
Expertise by Topic
Disability, Local & Regional, Material Culture, Medicine, Military, Religion, Science, Urban History, Women, World War I, World War II