Introducing the recipients of our 2021 Foundation Awards for Early Career Researchers. Eighteen awards were made in 2021, to researchers from all over the UK, for research and/or knowledge exchange projects that enhance medical humanities in the Glasogw context.
Dr Miles Beard
I completed a PhD in English from the University of Strathclyde in 2020 and was a Teaching and Research Fellow in English & Creative Writing at Tallinn University in Estonia 2020-2021. This year I am joining the Open University as an Associate Lecturer.
With this award I will consult the University of Glasgow’s R.D. Laing Collection to support the medical and theoretical basis of the novel I am writing. That Happened is the fictional memoir of a Scottish academic who is plagued by health anxiety following the sudden death of his spouse. An aficionado of autobiographical fiction, he struggles to disentangle the stories his mind and body tell of his self while investigating those of the authors he has read.
Dr Rhiannon Cogbill
I am an early career researcher interested in intersections between twentieth-century literature, medical humanities and disability studies. I was awarded a PhD from the University of Birmingham in 2021 for my thesis, ‘Health and Unhealth: The Condition of Women in the Fiction of Virginia Woolf, Dorothy Richardson and May Sinclair’.
The Gartnavel Gazette was a periodical produced in intermittent bursts by patients from the then Glasgow Royal Lunatic Asylum in the mid-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. I will conduct primary research into the key themes and trends of the ‘new series’ of the Gazette — which promised to ‘[bring] the X Rays to bear on Gartnavel’ — to form a critical account of the interests and activities of those who produced literary work within an institutional medical environment. I am particularly interested in what this work can reveal about the shared rules, meanings and structures of the space from which it emerged.
Dr Lynsey Cullen
I am a historian of medicine with a keen interest in patient agency and hospital medicine during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This award will enable preliminary archival research to establish the scope and extent of surviving materials (especially patient case records) relating to the ‘Spanish Flu’ influenza pandemic in Scotland with a case study of Glasgow, 1918-19. This will then form the basis of a fellowship application which will examine the response and understanding of Scottish hospitals to ‘Spanish Flu’ influenza and the cost of the pandemic to both hospitals and ordinary people.
Dr Iain Ferguson
Iain Ferguson recently earned his doctorate in Health History from the University of Strathclyde. Funded by the Wellcome Trust, he wrote the first medical history of acne. His thesis focussed particularly on the post war period when the escalating cultural and economic significance of adolescence made spotty skin a marketing opportunity for pharmaceutical companies, a professional opportunity for dermatologists and an issue that spurred popular debate about the causes of and treatments for acne.
Named Strathclyde Writer of the Year in 2011 for his work on The Strathclyde Telegraph, he subsequently achieved a BA (Hons) in History, Journalism and Creative Writing with 1st class honours.
During the ceremony, Iain was awarded the Keith Wright Memorial Prize for his historical fiction and the Thomas Telford Prize for his thesis on the history of multiple sclerosis. As a result, he was successful in gaining a Carnegie Cameron Bursary to pursue his MSc in Health History for which he gained a distinction in 2015.
With the support of the Scottish Oral History Centre (SOHC) I will use oral history to uncover the lived experience of MS sufferers and seek to broaden understandings of how sufferers have dealt with the physical, emotional, and cognitive effects of the disease since the late twentieth century. As well as exploring the psychosocial impact MS had on sufferers, this project will also seek to trace societal attitudes towards the disease, exploring, for instance, MS patients’ experience of social stigma. Finally, in addition to assessing the medical response to the condition, it also promises to offer fresh perspectives on the range of alternative therapies Scottish MS patients used in the hope of arresting the progress of the condition.
Beata Gubacsi (she/her) is a PhD candidate at the University of Liverpool and columnist at The Polyphony, writing about the entanglements of the fantastic in literature, video gaming and the medical. Her Foundation Award project, “Neurodiversity in Science Fiction and Fantasy”, is interested in the ways the Neurodiversity Movement is intertwined with popular culture, fantastic franchises and their fan communities, and neurodiverse life writing that utilises fantastic elements to depict the realities of neurodiverse lived experience. The project also involves the second Medical Humanities and the Fantastic Symposium, this time with the themes “Neurodiversity and Disability” to provide a platform for interdisciplinary and creative discussions about neurodiverse and disabled experience beyond and within academia. If you’re interested in learning more about the project, follow Beata on Twitter @beata_gubacsi or @fantastic_mhs, and if you’d like to connect or get involved, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Dr Moira Hansen
The Mental Health of Robert Tannahill
Paisley poet Robert Tannahill (1774-1810) was once as popular as near-contemporary Robert Burns, so popular that his life was marked by a statue erected outside Paisley Abbey. However, his name and work has now faded from the public’s consciousness. Working with Paisley Museum as part of their multi-million-pound refurbishment, this project will examine Tannahill’s from a new perspective, seeking to shed light on how his mental health affected his life and shaped the content and tone of his creative output. This will inform new presentations within the refurbished museum, bringing the local ‘weaver poet’ back to a modern audience.
Paisley Museums Twitter: @PaisleyMuseum
Dr Arianna Introna
Arianna Introna’s interests lie at the intersection between Scottish cultural and literary studies, Marxist autonomist theory, the medical humanities and disability studies. In 2018 I completed my PhD in Scottish literature at the University of Stirling. In her PhD thesis she explored representations of disability in Scottish literature drawing on Marxist autonomist theory and disability studies. She has developed my thesis into a monograph, entitled Crip Enchantments: Autonomist Narratives of Disability in Modern Scottish Writing, which is forthcoming with Palgrave Macmillan. Arianna’s current research and future projects retain a Marxist perspective to examine narratives and contexts of illness, disability, healthcare, social welfare and unemployment.
James Barke’s A Major Operation: The Saga of a Scottish City (1936) is set in the year leading to the National Hunger March of 1932. The March, which witnessed thousands of unemployed workers demand the abolition the Means Test, was an expression of the intensified class antagonisms generated by the Great Depression of 1929. A Major Operation vividly captures this politically charged historical moment. Most importantly, it portrays a Glasgow hospital, the Eastern Infirmary, as the space in which class relations and antagonisms find full articulation. Barke’s idiosyncratic inflection of illness imaginaries with an avowedly Marxist perspective underpins a portrayal of class as reproduced by relations between patients, nurses and medical practitioners. This project seeks to lay the groundwork for re-valuing A Major Operation as a literary text and as a record of contemporary class imaginaries of ill-health and healthcare institutions. It will do so by contextualising Barke’s imagination of class relations within the Eastern Infirmary in relation to hospital archival material, researching research material held at the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Archives. My interest is to identify archival sources which illuminate the social composition of the patient community hospitalised in the Glasgow Eastern Infirmary, as well as their treatment by medical staff. In so doing I want to determine whether the picture that emerges from archival records of the classed organisation of the Glasgow Eastern Infirmary corroborates or misfits its classed imagination in Barke’s novel. I see this archival research as necessary to lay the groundwork for the recuperation of A Major Operation as a key text within Scottish literature, Glasgow fiction and working-class literature to which illness imaginaries or critiques of healthcare institutions are central.
Dr Cath Keay
Dr Cath Keay’s practice focuses on sculpture and architecture as two ways of exploring constructed form. She graduated from Glasgow School of Art, Edinburgh College of Art and completed a practice-based PhD at Newcastle University. Her doctoral thesis examined collaborative and ‘un-authored’ strategies in sculpture and artists’ writing. As Chadwick Fellow at the British School at Rome, she created work based on Italy’s legacy of 1930s Colonia buildings for children. During residencies in Düsseldorf and Berlin she began exploring utopian Expressionism, leading to her Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship at Edinburgh College of Art titled Extending the Glass Chain- 100 years on. Following the methodology of the 1919 ‘Glass Chain’ (Gläserne Kette) she collaborated with international artists, architects and film makers to create shared visions using digital methods resulting in a publication of that title and exhibitions in Scotland and Australia in 2018.
Chase Ledin is a PhD researcher in the Centre for Biomedicine, Self and Society at the University of Edinburgh. His project will explore how the ‘end of AIDS’ is represented in Scottish health promotion since 2012 and if/how such promotion provides strategies to end new HIV transmissions in Scotland.
Dr Evelien Lemmens
Evelien Lemmens is an early career historian of emotions and illness, specialising in the nineteenth-century relationship between digestive and emotional health. She recently completed her PhD in History at Queen Mary, University of London, where she continues to teach undergraduate history. Her project ‘The Scottish Stomach in Distress’ will chart Scottish commentaries and patient narratives around functional digestive disorders from 1750 to present. The project analyses whether Scottish sources tell a different history of indigestion or dyspepsia to their English counterparts and, in doing so, contributes to wider discussions on how our identities (including nationality, class, age, and gender) continue to influence our understanding and experience of illness.
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. From the archives, I will curate a digital exhibition of Laing’s personal library and invite audience response in an online workshop. Then, in a series of podcast episodes I will interview artists and academics who have considered and responded to Laing’s life and works, and invite reflection on Laing’s literary habits.
Dr Rob Mayo
Rob Mayo is the author of Depression and Dysphoria in the Fiction of David Foster Wallace (Routledge, 2021). He is now working on the intersection of psychiatric knowledge and video game mechanics in Robert Pinksy’s Mindwheel and Tim Schafer’s Psychonauts, as part of a larger project on the theme of ‘inner space’ in science fiction literature, film and video games.’
Gillean McDougall worked in classical music and broadcasting before graduating with an MLitt (Creative Writing) with Distinction from the University of Glasgow, and has just completed a Doctor of Fine Arts degree in the same department. Her PhD submission is a memoir of family history, mental ill health and classical music, written over the course of a year while walking in the landscape of Gartnavel Royal Asylum. ‘Writing the Asylum’ brings creative practitioners together with hidden stories from the asylum archives to illuminate current discourse on mental health and creativity and to provide an ongoing forum for new creative work.
Lindsay Middleton is a PhD researcher at the University of Glasgow and University of Aberdeen. Her SGSAH-funded thesis, ‘The Technical Recipe: A Formal Analysis of Nineteenth-century Recipes’ argues that recipes are a literary form that situated readers and writers in timelines of history and innovation, and simultaneously interpreted culinary technologies. Lindsay has written and presented on food adulteration, narrative cookbooks, food and thrift, and tinned foods. Lindsay has published on tinned foods as a disruptive technology and has publications in progress addressing food adulteration in the 1820s, and thrifty recipes. She is engaged in internship work with the National Trust for Scotland, reimagining food in historical properties.
Project description: The food we consume has a tangible impact on our health and wellbeing, and food and health have been inextricable in the writings that address them. Historical printed and manuscript cookbooks typically had sections on ‘Invalid Cookery’, instructing readers how to prepare foodstuffs for the ill. Using the culinary collections from the Glasgow Caledonian University’s archive, ‘Dishes for the Sick Room’ illuminates historical Scottish recipes for invalid cookery, and the international ingredients they used, within Glasgow’s collections.
Dr Cris Sarg
Cris Sarg grew up in the United States. She studied English Literature and History at the University of Delaware, and from there moved to Scotland to do her MSc Information & Records Management and MLitt History at the University of Glasgow. She completed her PhD in Human/Historical Geography in 2017, with a thesis entitled: Scottish-Jewish ‘madness’?: An examination of Jewish admissions to the royal asylums of Edinburgh and Glasgow c. 1870-1939, again at the University of Glasgow.
Project Summary: Adolescence, Madness & Resilience: Jewish Experiences in Glasgow’s Asylums 1870-1939
This project will draw attention to adolescent and child patients admitted to the Glasgow royal and district/parochial asylums. Furthermore, this project is an offshoot of my previous PhD research, where I looked at the at the patient experiences of Jewish patients admitted to the royal asylums of Glasgow and Edinburgh between 1870-1939. This project helps to fill in some of the gaps that are present in my previous project due to focusing on patients who were from middling to wealthy families, who had the financial means to pay for treatment within the asylum. The district/parochial asylums had a noticeable child and adolescent patient population. This leads to questions about the social, economic and ethnic factions that are present within these institutions and specifically within Glasgow Jewry of the time. Additionally, it sheds light onto the wider themes of immigration, empire/imperialism and scientific racism.
Dr Katie Snow
‘Revealing Breasts’ will unearth, examine, and exhibit the hidden histories of breasts in the University of Glasgow’s Hunterian collection. Focusing on anatomical illustrations and medical papers authored and collected by the man-midwives William Hunter and James Douglas, it will collect crucial information about eighteenth-century medical efforts to record, track, and pathologise female anatomy. This knowledge will be used to problematise present-day health complexities and cultural anxieties, suggesting how medical scholars, practitioners, and patients might benefit from turning to historical holdings.
Dr Jivitesh Vashisht
I was the Junior Anniversary Fellow at IASH Edinburgh in 2020-21. My research spans literary and media studies, psychoanalysis, and the medical humanities. I am currently at work on the first study of ‘literatures and cultures of the case-history’ (1970-2020), a transatlantic corpus of memoirs, novels, plays and films that engages with and re-tells case-studies by Sigmund Freud, A.R. Luria and Oliver Sacks. My ECR Foundation Grant project is an archival study of the production histories of The Escapologist (2006) aimed at understand how, and to what end, this Suspect Culture play transforms psychoanalytic clinical vignettes from Adam Phillips’s Houdini Box (2001) into a theatrical event. I welcome conversations on any of these topics via Twitter or email.
Dr Joe Wood
I am an early career literary scholar working on representations of and responses to dying, pain and loss. My PhD at the University of Glasgow used textual analysis to examine the key holistic idea in hospice and palliative care of ‘total pain’, which assumes pain is not just physical but also emotional, social and spiritual. My Fellowship project will look at how ‘total pain’ might be used more broadly as a way of articulating our embodied responses to the environmental crises of anthropogenic climate change and habitat destruction through ideas of shared pain and the power of witnessing inevitable suffering.