Dr Sarah Phelan
I am currently an Affiliate Researcher of the School of Geographical and Earth Sciences at the University of Glasgow. I have also been an Affiliate of the Medical Humanities Research Centre at Glasgow. I was awarded my PhD in Medical Humanities from the University of Glasgow in 2018. Prior to this, I received a BA in English and Philosophy (2008) and an MA in English in Modernities (2009) from University College Cork, Ireland. During this time, I was awarded Second Prize in the Dr H. H. Stewart Literary Scholarship in English (2006) from the National University of Ireland as well as an Undergraduate College Scholarship (2006) and the Title of College Scholar (2008) from University College Cork. I completed an interdisciplinary MSc in the History and Theory of Psychology at the University of Edinburgh in 2012, for which I received an University of Edinburgh UK/EU Masters Scholarship to fund course fees.
From 2013 to 2018, I undertook a PhD in Medical Humanities at the Medical Humanities Research Centre at the University of Glasgow, funded by a Lord Kelvin Adam Smith PhD scholarship and supervised by Dr Gavin Miller (English Literature) and Prof Chris Philo (Geographical and Earth Sciences). My doctoral project explored the contribution to psychiatry of Thomas Ferguson Rodger (1907-1978), first Professor of Psychological Medicine (1948-1973) at the University of Glasgow and a consultant psychiatrist at a number of Glasgow hospitals. This research involved a close reading of Rodger’s personal papers held at the University of Glasgow Archives as well as analysis of additional archival material at other repositories. I also undertook recorded oral history interviews with Rodger’s family and former colleagues which have now been submitted to the School of Scottish Studies Sound Archive at the University of Edinburgh. During my PhD, I held an adjunct role on the Honours course ‘Literature and Medicine’ in the academic year 2015/2016. I have spoken at a number of conferences including the Society for the Social History of Medicine Conference, the British Society for the History of Science Postgraduate Conference and the Other Psychotherapies: across time, space and cultures conference.
I have published and forthcoming peer-reviewed articles in History of Psychiatry, History of the Human Sciences and Cultural Geographies and book reviews in the Journal of Historical Geography and History of Psychiatry. I have also written blogposts for the University of Glasgow Library Blog to mark World Mental Health Day and for the Asylum and Post-Asylum Spaces website. I was the administrator for the Medical Humanities Research Centre at Glasgow from January 2018 to November 2019. My current research interests encompass medical humanities, the history of psychiatry, the history and theory of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy, biography, archives, and the history of dreaming. I am a member of the Asylum and Post-Asylum Spaces Group at the University of Glasgow, the Northern Network for Medical Humanities Research, the Arts Health Early Career Research Network and the Network of Cultural Dream Studies.
Research and Teaching Interests
My Lord Kelvin Adam Smith funded PhD project (2013-2018) was entitled ‘Reconstructing a Twentieth-Century Scottish Psychiatrist: Thomas Ferguson Rodger, “Wartime Psychiatry”, “Eclecticism”, and “Mad Dreaming”’. This research explored the contribution to psychiatry of Thomas Ferguson Rodger (1907–1978), first Professor of Psychological Medicine at the University of Glasgow (1948–1973) and consultant psychiatrist at several Glasgow hospitals. Rodger is a somewhat neglected figure in the history of Scottish psychiatry, yet his career spanned - and in some measure also shaped - an important period of transformation as traditional asylum-based psychiatry was challenged by emergent general hospital- and community-based psychiatry. Rodger’s personal archive, including lecture notes, patient case notes, correspondence and miscellaneous items, was catalogued by the University of Glasgow Archives in 2012 through funding from the Wellcome Trust. This study comprises a forensic reading/interpretation of this archive, alongside oral histories with individuals who remember him and his immediate legacy in/beyond the University. Adopting perspectives drawn from the history/geography of psychiatry and medical humanities, it reconstructs Rodger’s life, ideas and practices, set within the changing ‘spaces’ of mid-twentieth-century psychiatric medicine.
At present, my research interests include medical humanities, the history of psychiatry, the history and theory of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy, biography, archives, and the history of dreaming.
- Lonely lost people living in the waste-land: T. Ferguson Rodger, ‘social psychiatry’, ‘mad dreaming’ and ‘rethinking mental health’