Postdoctoral Research Assistants:
Amelia is working on a monograph which examines medical conditions associated with clerical work in Victorian Britain and colonial South Asia, focusing particularly on ergonomic hazards and musculoskeletal disorders, but not ignoring other physical and mental conditions such as respiratory diseases (tuberculosis, asthma), cardiovascular diseases, eye problems as well as diseases caused by stress and overwork. Her main concerns are to map the range of physical and mental illnesses associated with the office work environment and to understand how they intersected with the emerging field of occupational medicine. Some of the questions she will be addressing are: How did clerical work change during the nineteenth century? How did the introduction of new technologies (of writing, communication, transport) change work and generated new risks and fears of disease? How did occupational sedentarism come to be regarded as a medical risk? How did office design evolve during the nineteenth century? How was medical knowledge about musculoskeletal disorders produced during this period?
Melissa’s work on the Diseases of Modern Life project focuses upon those diseases, anxieties, and pathologies derived from the Victorian soundscape and new understandings of the auditory experience. She is interested both in the effects of sound upon the mind and the literary and cultural imagination, and in the use of controlled sounds, silence, and music as counters to an increasingly problematic urban cacophony. Drawing upon literary, medical, and psychiatric representations and analyses of the vibrating and responsive – or unresponsive – human body, she will trace the cultural fears and fantasies surrounding sensory overload, bodily vulnerability and penetrability, while exploring the limitations and capabilities of the body to hear and receive sound in the modern age.
Heavily influenced by contemporary developments in microbiome research, Emilie’s project investigates changing ideas about gastrointestinal health throughout the nineteenth century. She is particularly interested in the connections being drawn between digestive health and emotional wellbeing, and how these connections were negotiated in the literary imagination. The centrality of digestive health to the mind-body system in the nineteenth century positioned it as an imaginative framework within which gendered and classed constructions of selfhood were elaborated. As germ theory gained a foothold in the cultural consciousness, our understandings of mankind’s relationships with the microbial world were markedly altered. With new studies weekly demonstrating the importance of our gastrointestinal flora and fauna to our somatic, immune, and psychiatric health, Emilie seeks to resituate digestive health in the multiplex context of the Pre-Pasteurian epoch. How might nineteenth century perspectives on diet, digestion and bodily identity modify our understanding of what it means to be healthy in the twenty-first?
- Professor Mark Micale
- Professor Mary Poovey
- Professor David Trotter
- Professor Dr Anne-Julia Zwierlein