Introducing the recipients of our 2022 Foundation Awards for Early Career Researchers. Eighteen awards were made in 2022, to researchers from all over the UK, for research and/or knowledge exchange projects that enhance medical humanities in the Glasogw context.
Bio-Lit Talks brings together internationally renowned scientists, literary academics, and artists to explore fresh perspectives on the most important research topics of the day.
We cultivate open, curious conversations to encourage interdisciplinary understandings and new avenues of thought. By incorporating audience questions and post-event discussions, we build bridges between disciplines and create space for collaboration.
Previous Bio-Lit Talks addressed infectious diseases in literature. Our latest series explores how the gut might be considered in the light of food culture, behaviours, traditions, and futures.
We aim to make our events fully accessible and share recordings afterwards to keep the discussion flowing.
Social Media Links:
YouTube: Bio-Lit Talks: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWatgM8Hat9BzYEuxmnqCjA/featured
Dr Emma Gee
Emma Gee grew up in rural Australia and studied at the Universities of Sydney and Cambridge, beginning in the BMus and converting to Classics. She has been lecturer in Classics at the Universities of Exeter, Sydney, and St Andrews. She recently graduated with an MSc in Psychology from Dundee and is now a freelance scholar and yoga teacher. Her most recent academic book, ‘Mapping the Afterlife’ (OUP, 2020), combines ancient literature and philosophy with music theory and psychology. Her free translation of Lucretius’ De rerum natura (Arc, 2020) won an English PEN Prize. Her current project, a literary biography of R D Laing, aims to challenge the myths around Laing and to interrogate the near-hagiography of Laing present in some contemporary scholarship and psychotherapeutic practice.
Dr Charlotte Holmes
Charlotte Holmes recently finished minor corrections to her thesis entitled ‘Domestic Medicine in Early Modern Scotland, c. 1650 – c. 1750’ from the University of Edinburgh. Previously, she received her MSc in Renaissance and Early Modern Studies from the University of Edinburgh and a BA in History from Georgetown University (Washington, DC USA).
Introduction to project:
The project funded by the Glasgow Medical Humanities Network explores the connection between food and medicine in the early eighteenth century using the first printed Scottish cookbook. The result of this research will be a journal article and a blog post.
NB: There is no social media as of yet beyond my personal twitter account @_CCHolmes_.
Dr Tarquin Holmes
I am an independent researcher working at the interface of history, sociology and philosophy of the life and medical sciences. I completed my PhD in Philosophy at the University of Exeter in 2016, on the subject of the ‘wild type’ concept in 19th and 20th century evolutionary theory and classical genetics and its place within the longer history of western ideas about animal and plant movement across the domestic-wild boundary. More recently, I carried out postdoctoral research at LSE supporting Dr Carrie Friese in her work on the role of care in animal science, with my specific focus being on the 1875 Royal Commission on Vivisection and the historical and socio-political context of debates around animal welfare.
My project, ‘Iatric Networks: Circulations of Medical Personnel, Bacteriological Knowledge and Racial Politics between Scottish Universities and South Africa, 1865-1914’, will aim to evaluate connections between Scottish medical schools (particularly Glasgow and Edinburgh) and late 19th and early 20th century colonial South Africa. It will focus on the movement of personnel, ideas and techniques between Scotland and the Cape, paying particular attention to links to Joseph Lister, his antiseptic system and his advocacy of germ theory. It will further assess the contribution of ideas of germ theory to the ‘sanitation syndrome’ Swanson (1977) influentially identified as contributing to the beginnings of coercive urban segregation in South African cities c. 1900.
Dr Baher Ibrahim
I completed a PhD in History at the University of Glasgow in 2021. My research explored the history of psychiatry in refugee camps and the emergence of mental health work in medical humanitarianism. I was the University’s 2021/2 Charlotte Nicholson Postdoctoral Fellow in History, and am currently an Affiliate Researcher in the History department. I am also a psychiatrist-in-training in the West of Scotland.
With this award I will explore a key absence I noted in the archival sources I examined for my PhD: the voices of refugees and migrants. I will conduct a small number of oral history interviews with refugees and/or migrants who have sought mental health support in the UK, with the aim of learning how they understand and conceptualize the notion of ‘mental health’, and what their experiences of accessing resources have been.
I can be reached at Baher.Ibrahim@glasgow.ac.uk.
Dr Lorna MacBean
What was R.D. Laing reading, and why do we read R.D. Laing? The personal library of the Glasgow-born and world-renowned psychiatrist and writer R.D. Laing (1927 – 1989) is held in Archives and Special Collections, University of Glasgow Library. Laing studied at the University of Glasgow before qualifying as a psychiatrist and went on to lead a career which made him a seminal figure in both the medical world and Scottish literary culture. This project collects evidence for Laing’s interaction with his library through surveying the marginalia and annotations made to his books. Using the methodology of historical pragmatics, this project contributes to twentieth-century histories of reading in the medical humanities.
Lorna MacBean wrote her PhD thesis on the function of poetry in William Lithgow’s 1623 edition of travel narratives and continues to promote this area of research through the Symposium for Seventeenth-Century Scottish Literatures. Her interests include medical humanities, histories of reading, historical pragmatics, discourse analysis, early modern literary culture, and prison literature.
Twitter: @Lorna_Literacy and @century_17th
Dr Gillean McDougall
I completed my Doctor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow in 2022, having previously worked in classical music and broadcasting. My thesis was a memoir which used the landscape of Gartnavel Royal Asylum in Glasgow as the starting point for reflection on family and mental ill health and the abandoned spaces both conspire to create. A Year to Find My Father was shortlisted for the Mslexia Memoir Prize 2021.
I received an Award in 2021 for my project Writing the Asylum: Embodying Gartnavel in Creative Practice and 30 writers and artists have been busy investigating the Gartnavel archive, and patient records, photographs and the geography of the site have inspired new work which is now being collected into a website. Short story, life writing, poetry and hybrid forms illuminate the experiences of a largely forgotten community and relate to current discourse on mental health and creativity. This very welcome further Award in 2022 will allow for a printed publication on the project which will take the work further as I pursue funding elsewhere. In addition, there will be a public event at the former Chapel in the hospital grounds where participants will discuss the experience of taking part and read from/show their submissions.
Find ‘Writing the Asylum’ on Twitter @writing_asylum and Instagram @writingtheasylum
Anna Nelson is in the final stages of her PhD in Bioethics and Medical Jurisprudence at the University of Manchester. Her thesis looks at the intersection between autonomy during childbirth and partial ectogenesis. Her research interests include choice in childbirth, medical misogyny and reproductive rights.
This project explores the language used in the medical advice given to women pre-conception, and how this might contribute to the framing of women as ‘foetal environments’. This is intended to form the basis for a larger analysis of the way that the language used in healthcare encounters can intersect with pre-existing reproductive assumptions about women’s desires for pregnancy and motherhood, and in so doing impose expectations to moderate behaviour for the sake of potential future children.
Dr Hilda Reilly
Following post-graduate studies where I developed my interest in the mind-body relationship, my recently completed PhD re-examined the case of Freud’s patient Anna von Lieben using newly discovered autobiographical material which led to the construction of a counter-narrative to that of Freud. The award will enable me to undertake a further programme of research in Vienna designed to facilitate the conversion of my thesis into a monograph, and at the same time to prepare the groundwork for a proposed transnational and transhistorical team-based project to explore the part played by gynaecological disease in women diagnosed with psychosomatic disorders.
My website is www.hildareilly.com and my twitter handle is @Hilda_Reilly.
Dr Veronika Schuchter
Workshop: Ethics, Responsibility, and Accountability for Scholars Working with Health Narratives in the Medical Humanities
This 1.5-day interdisciplinary workshop for scholars working with health narratives is inspired by my research on representations of the menopause in contemporary literature. Many of my sources depict lived menopause experiences but there exists comparatively little guidance for literary scholars on how to navigate writing about textual depictions of othered health experiences in an ethical and responsible manner. While these experiences are shared deliberately, they might still leave the authors (particularly those who are not white, cis gender, and able-bodied) vulnerable. Through the workshop as a collective practice, I hope to model ways of engaging with health narratives in ethical and accountable ways and produce guidelines for other researchers in the medical humanities and beyond.
Veronika currently teaches at the University of Oxford and from October 2022 she will be a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Contemporary Women’s Writing, Institute of Advanced Study at the University of London. Her current research project explores representations of the menopause in twenty-first century literature. Veronika is particularly interested in feminist and queer theory, gender studies, contemporary women’s writing and has had articles published in Peer English, Text Matters, Contemporary Women’s Writing, and Studies in Canadian Literature.
Dr Michelle Smith
Michelle Smith holds a PhD in English Literature and has been a Postdoctoral Fellow through both SSHRC (The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada) and the AHRC (The Arts and Humanities Research Council of Britain). She has published several articles, won various awards, and is the author of two books: the poetry collection dear Hermes … and the monograph Magazines, Travel, and Middlebrow Culture (co-written with Faye Hammill). All was going along well—and apparently normal—until October 2021, when she received a shocking medical diagnosis.
Tales from the Kingdom of Illness: Reflections on the Diagnosis and Treatment of a Brain Tumour has two aims. First, I will build an online archive of stories. Inspired by Edinburgh Book Festival’s Scotland’s Stories Now, each contributor will have a page devoted to their story, told in their own words, of dealing with illness. Second, I will create a poetry collection that may take the form of a traditional pamphlet (sixteen poems organised around a theme) or that goes further and challenges the boundary between poetry and memoir, as I seek to illuminate my own experiences with words.
 Susan Sontag, Illness as Metaphor and AIDS and Its Metaphors, New York: Penguin, 2013.
Dr Simon Walker
I am rapidly aging Early Career Researcher having received my PhD from the University of Strathclyde in seemingly murky past of 2018 focused on the History of Military Medicine, subsequently reorganised and updated into the 2020 book War Bodies with Bloomsbury Academic (now in paperback – you know you want one!) Post doctorate award I have expanded my expertise into Suicidology, Sociology, and Occupational Medicine by conducting research and publishing on various aspects of Suicide and joining the Healthy Working Lives Group within the University of Glasgow’s School of Health and Wellbeing as a Research Associate. This award (thank you very much by the way) will allow me to undertake a new approach to my research within suicidology and suicide prevention.
In 1840 Dr Davidson, a Glasgow physician, attempted to understand if suicide and sanity were mutually exclusive. This remains a novel question as still today suicide is most frequently linked to mental illness, with even the most up to date psychiatric interpretations regarding the rejection of life as evidence of disconnection with normality. I will utilise the detailed records of Dr Davidson, assessing his thoughts and findings, to understand and disseminate how early considerations of suicide, outside of the categorisations of insanity and sin, were contrasted and defended. I have confidence that this recognition will help to fill in a small but significant blank within the history of suicide and will bring better understanding of the early medicalisation of suicide. Overall, it is my hope that his findings, distilled through historic analysis, will open up new dialogues for the consideration of suicide and identification of risk factors for suicidal ideation and action creating opportunities for better suicide prevention and risk identification.