Defining difference: competing forms of ovarian surgery in the nineteenth century
- History of medicine, science and technology,
- Nineteenth-century print culture
- Public engagement (past and present).
Following my undergraduate degree in Politics and Sociology at the University of Bristol, I worked in the library and archives sector in London for a number of years, mainly working with medical collections. In 2007 I received a Wellcome Trust studentship to study for a Master’s degree in the history of medicine at University College London. This was followed by a PhD studentship to continue my postgraduate work at UCL. My PhD ‘The Most Startling Innovation': Ovarian Surgery in Britain, c.1740-1939, was awarded in 2014. My thesis looked at the controversial introduction of ovarian surgery, the first major abdominal procedure to come into practice. Alternatively framed as a triumphant episode of surgical progress and a symbol of Victorian surgeons’ attempts to control female patients, my thesis adopted a different approach by looking at ovarian surgery as a complex tale of innovation. It traced the intricacies particular to negotiating novelty in operative surgery, and looked at how the operation raised significant questions relating to risk, responsibility, medical language and the financial implications of surgery. I am currently turning this research into a monograph.
After some time working as a research assistant at Imperial College London, examining the history of twentieth-century surgery, I came to Oxford in March 2014 as a Postdoctoral Research Assistant on the AHRC funded project Constructing Scientific Communities: Citizen Science in the 19th and 21st Centuries, headed by Professor Sally Shuttleworth. The project uses the framing of ‘Citizen Science’ - an increasingly popular method of data collection, whereby scientific research is undertaken by nonprofessional scientists – to consider how ‘public’ participation in science was understood in the nineteenth century. My own research seeks to examine the place of the public in medical knowledge-making at this time, particularly within medical periodicals. From vicars’ contributions to disease statistics, to the role of laypeople in the publishing of medical journals, my research looks to the rich variety of ways professional and non-professional persons interacted within sites of ‘orthodox’ medicine.
In addition to my academic work, I'm interested in exploring new and interesting methods of public engagement in both science and the humanities.