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Centre for the Study of the Body and Material Culture


Dr. Rebecca Preston

Honorary Research Associate 2012-15

RebeccaRebecca's research interests and publications are on landscape and identity, and the space, use and representation of the home in nineteenth and twentieth-century Britain. In 2010–2012 she was a Research Fellow at Royal Holloway, working on the ESRC-funded project ‘At Home in the Institution’, led by Jane Hamlett. Her research interests and publications are on landscape and identity, and the space, use and representation of the home in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Britain.

Rebecca’s doctorate in the Geography Department at Royal Holloway, supervised by David Gilbert and Denis Cosgrove (1999), was a study of the nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century suburban garden and its role in the making of social identities. She is currently developing this research for publication and is also working on representations of home in popular photography, leisure magazines and suburban memoirs in late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century Britain. Previously she held post-doctoral research posts at the AHRC Centre for the Study of the Domestic Interior (Royal Holloway, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Royal College of Art), the Geffrye Museum and the Centre for Suburban Studies (Kingston University). She has worked in housing research and as a researcher in historic building and landscape conservation, including the Strawberry Hill Trust, the World Monuments Fund in Britain and the National Trust.


Dr. Katherine Rawling

Honorary Research Associate 2013-16

KatKatherine was awarded her Ph.D. in History from Royal Holloway for her thesis “Visualising Mental Illness: Gender, Medicine and Visual Media, c. 1850-1910” (2011), supervised by Professor Amanda Vickery. She was awarded full AHRC doctoral funding to carry out her postgraduate studies and she completed her thesis for submission in three years (2007-2010). She gained her MA (distinction) from Royal Holloway in Women’s and Gender History (2004). During this time she was awarded the Olwen Hufton Essay Prize for her masters work. She received her first class degree MA (Hons) in History from the University of Edinburgh (2003).

She is developing a postdoctoral project to extend her research beyond the photographic practices of British asylums in the late nineteenth century to those within the Victorian institution more generally, such as prisons and police files. She has identified several archive collections of images of criminals, ‘problem groups’ such as drunks and vagrants, as well as patients, which will form the basis of her new research which aims to map more closely the relationship between the camera and the institution. This postdoctoral research will be national in scope and include archives held at Bath (photographs of prisoners at Bath Central Police Station c.1900-1920), Manchester (Prestwich Asylum admission photographs 1891-), Cheshire (photographs of local offenders c.1869-1879 and patient photographs at Chester Deva Asylum and Macclesfield Parkside Asylum), East Sussex (patients at Hellingley Hospital, 1903-1910), Bedford (Bedford Prison Inmates 1859-1877 and St Francis’ Home a Catholic orphanage for boys c.1870-1884), Lincolnshire (Habitual Criminals Register 1875-1878).

Katherine then intends to combine her doctoral and postdoctoral research to form a larger monograph examining the use of the camera and photography in the Victorian institution. This would be the first study of its kind to address photographic practices across a range of institutions.


Dr. Tessa Storey

Honorary Research Associate 2013-16

Tessa StoreyCurrently Honorary Research Associate in the Department of History, Tessa was awarded a PhD in History and Civilization from the European University Institute in  Florence, in 1999. Her thesis was titled “Questo Negozio è Aromatićhissimo” A Sociocultural study of Prostitution in Early Modern Rome, supervised by Dame Professor Olwen Hufton and Prof. Laurence Fontaine. She had earlier received a first class degree in Italian Studies with History at Exeter University in 1993, followed by an MA in History from Exeter in 1994. Following her PhD she was awarded a three year Leverhulme Special Research Fellowship which she held at Royal Holloway, and subsequently taught part-time on the Early Modern European History MA.

Tessa’s book Carnal Commerce in Counter Reformation Rome, which appeared in 2008 with OUP is based broadly on her PhD research, as are six articles which explore various themes related to prostitution in early modern Rome, such as the identities of prostitutes, the material culture of prostitution, the circulation of second hand goods and concepts of masculinity.  

In 2006 she began working as research associate  for David Gentilcore at Leicester University on a Wellcome Trust funded project ‘Italian Receipts Database,’  which prompted a shift in her research interests to the history of medicine in early modern Italy, leading to an article on the making of potions  and ‘secrets’ in early seventeenth-century Rome . This was followed by her appointment in 2009 as  Research Associate for Prof. Sandra Cavallo in the Department of History at RHUL on a Wellcome Funded Project “Healthy Homes and Healthy Bodies in Late Renaissance Italy.” As a result of this research she and Sandra Cavallo have co-authored a book entitled Healthy Living in Late Renaissance Italy, due to appear with  Oxford University Press in the autumn of 2013, as well as an article on ideas of health and exercise amongst the Italian aristocracy.

At present Tessa is jointly engaged in research into the practices and knowledge surrounding the production, use and detection of illicit substances –particularly poisons-in early seventeenth-century Rome,  with Dr. Silvia De Renzi of the Open University, and intends to extend her research into the medical advice on drinking and the material culture of drinking in Renaissance and Early Modern Italy.



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