Dr Elsa Richardson
Chancellor's Fellow in the History of Health & Wellbeing
Dr Elsa Richardson is a cultural historian of health, medicine and psychology, with a particular interest in the history of vegetarianism and the science of nutrition.
Having completed her PhD with the Centre for the History of Emotions at Queen Mary University of London, she now holds a Chancellor’s Fellowship at the University of Strathclyde and is a member of the Centre of the Social History of Health and Healthcare.
Since being named one of BBC 3’s New Generation Thinkers in 2018, her broadcast work has included discussion and festival appearances, essays and interviews. She has contributed to the public programming of institutions like the Wellcome Collection and has collaborated on a number of curatorial projects.
Research and Teaching Interests
Working at the intersection between the medical and cultural history, my research considers the relation of heterodox practices, beliefs and movements to mainstream society and culture, with particular focus on the interaction between medicine and the imagination, science and the supernatural, psychology and the occult. My current research examines histories of nutrition, vegetarianism, other alternative dietary cultures, mental stress and gastric disorders in late nineteenth and early twentieth-century Britain.
My first monograph, published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2017, examined the place of extraordinary visionary experience in the Victorian scientific and popular imaginary. Specifically, it investigated the phenomenon of second sight, a species of foreknowledge associated with the Scottish Highlands and Islands and described how tales of this strange visionary ability came to impact on the formation of psychological theories, scientific methodologies and medical thinking.
Outside of these projects, I have also researched and published on women’s life writing, British modernism, vegetarianism in fiction, performance and psychology, feminist consciousness-raising and psychoanalysis.