The Centre for the Study of the Body and Material Culture brings together brings together scholars of health and intimacy, politics and identity, consumption and urban planning and visual and material culture with the intention of promoting intellectual exchange and collaboration in this new field.
The Centre promotes a number of activities, including high-profile research projects, a seminar series, and workshops.
Spring 2018 Programme
Theme: Material Culture and the Senses
Lunchtime Seminar: Dining and Tasting in the Roman World
Thursday 1 March 2018
Royal Holloway, Egham Campus
Dr. Hannah Platts (RHUL History) – Dining and Multisensory Experience in the Roman Home
Dr Erica Rowan (RHUL Classics) – Food and the Senses in the Roman World
All are welcome at this informal seminar and please do bring your lunch with you if you like!
Public Engagement Workshop: Recreating the sensory material worlds
Wednesday 21 March 2018
Royal Holloway, Egham Campus
This afternoon workshop will explore the benefits and challenges of recreating sensory experiences in museums and on heritage sites. The event will open with a keynote talk from Chris Tuckley from the Jorvik Viking Centre at York who will discuss the place of sensory experience in the 2017 refurbishment of the Centre. This will be followed by two workshop sessions led by heritage practitioners – allowing participants to get to grips with some of the practical issues involved in sensory recreation. Kate McLean will lead a session on smell in the modern city and Lara Thorpe will run a session on smell and taste in plague remedies.
The workshop is hosted by the Centre for the Study of the Body and Material Culture and the London Centre for Public History and Heritage.
All are welcome but please contact the Centre Co-ordinator Katie Carpenter in advance if you would like to come as space is limited in the seminar workshops.
Previous events 2017
Translating Medicine in the Pre-Modern World: Materials, Images, and Text
7-8 July 2017
Wellcome Trust Building and Library, London
The CSBMC sponsored Translating Medicine in the Pre-Modern World: Materials, Images, and Texts. It was one of the first two events organized by the network Translating Medicine in the Pre-Modern World. It was co-sponsored with the University of York, the Society for the Social History of Medicine (SSHM) and the Wellcome Library.
Download the programme.
Joint Book Launch: Conserving Health and Malleable Anatomies
7 July 2017
6pm to 8pm, Senate House, SH261
The CSBMC hosted the joint book launch of Sandra Cavallo and Tessa Storey, Conserving Health in Early Modern Culture: Bodies and Environments in Italy and England and Lucia Dacome, Malleable Anatomies: Models, Makers, and Material Culture in Eighteenth-Century Italy with comments by Alex Bamji (Leeds) and Anna Maerker (KCL), followed by a drinks reception.
You can download the list of contents and blurbs for Conserving Health in Early Modern Culture and Malleable Anatomies here.
Kitchens in Britain and Europe, 1500-1950
Although seen as the 'heart' of the home in some places and periods, the kitchen is still a relatively underexplored space. This workshop brought together international scholars working on the kitchen, who presented papers on a range of geographical and chronological perspectives. Topics of papers included: kitchen and food propaganda in World War Two; artisan working-class homes in Britain; and the modern use of the historic kitchens at Hampton Court Palace.
The day stimulated much discussion and debate about the potential of the kitchen in advancing social and cultural histories. The day benefitted from an afterword by historian of kitchens Sara Pennell, who outlined the directions scholarship in this area might take. The event was followed by the launch of Pennell’s book, The Birth of the English Kitchen, 1600-1850.
This event was live tweeted. You can see all the tweets here.
Download the programme.
Previous Seminar Series
2016-2017 The Family in Visual Culture
18th October, Senate House, Room 261.
Round Table: The Family in Visual Culture.
Christine Grandy (University of Lincoln)
Annebella Pollen (University of Brighton)
Kate Retford (Birkbeck College, University of London)
This event was co-convened with the Bedford Centre for the History of Women.
9 November, 11 Bedford Square, Room 03.
Elsje van Kessel (University of St Andrews), 'Painting the Family: Irene di Spilimbergo, Titian, and the Portrait as Surrogate’.
30 November, 11 Bedford Square, Room 03.
Janet Fink (University of Huddersfield), ‘Reflections from the Silver Screen: Family Lives and Family Problems in Postwar British Cinema’
Previous events 2015-2016
2015-2016 Emotions and Material Culture
14th October, Senate House, Room 261
Round Table: Emotions and Material Culture
Mary Laven (Cambridge)
Joanne Bailey (Oxford Brookes)
Julie-Marie Strange (Manchester)
Sandra Cavallo (RHUL)
18th November, 11 Bedford Square, BSQ1-01
Sarah Johanesen (KCL), ‘Fostering Relationships: The Emotional Content of Gifts and Gift-Giving in the Exchanges of Bess of Hardwick and her Female Contemporaries’
Michaela Jones (RHUL), ‘A Home of One's Own: Gender and Domesticity on Display in the Dolls' House, 1600 - 1850’
9th December, 11 Bedford Square, BSQ1-01
Sally Holloway (Richmond), ‘”My heart is in my eyes”: Sensory interaction with courtship gifts in Georgian England’
Stella Moss (RHUL), '"Talking of Struggles and Laughing Them Away": The Emotional Landscape of the English Public House in the 1930s’
Previous events 2014-2015
2014-2015 Material Culture and Agency
Round Table: Material Culture and Agency
Professor Margot Finn (UCL)
Dr. Sara Pennell (Roehampton)
Professor John Styles (Hertfordshire)
Dr. Simona Valeriani (V&A)
Joint Postgraduate Seminar Session: Agency in Institutional Spaces
Susan Woodall (RHUL), 'Porous boundaries and "troublesome inmates": defining and defying the moral space of reform institutions for “fallen” women'
Jamie Nightingale (RHUL), 'All at sea? Ritual space and the School Board for London’s ‘slap-dash happy-go-lucky’ training ship'
Previous events 2013-2014
Travel: Bodies and Objects in Motion
Giorgio Riello and Anne Gerritsen (Warwick),‘Spaces of Global Interactions: The Material Landscapes of Global History’ Listen online here.
Ruth Livesey (RHUL), 'Dickens and America: Transport and the Making of Place in the 1840s'
Aaron Moore (Manchester), 'Physical Dimensions of Self: Diaries and Self-Discipline in East Asian Armies, 1937-1945'
Carl Thompson (Nottingham Trent), 'Gender and the Romanticization of Travel Writing; Maria Graham's Journal of a Residence in Chile'
Charlotte Brown (RHUL) 'The Objects of Men’s Affections in their Letters Home 1760-1830'; Weipin Tsai (RHUL), ‘‘'Bright is the Moon Over my Home Village: the Family Letters of Chinese Merchants in Late Qing China'.
Ann Massey (Middlesex), ‘Bodies at Sea: Colonial Discourses and Ocean Liner Design’.
2012-2013 Imbibing Bodies: Histories of Drinking and Culture
Karen Harvey (Sheffield), 'Politics by Design: Drink, Allegiance and Manly Consumption'
Lyanne Holcombe (Kingston), 'Leisured Spaces, Liminal Bodies: Gender and the Practice of Consumption in the Lyons Restaurant, Grill and Hotel 1914-1939'
Mark Hailwood (Exeter), ''Alehouses, Sociability and Intoxication in Seventeenth-Century England'
James Kneale (UCL), 'Measuring Moderate Drinking Before the Unit: Medicine and Life Assurance in Britain and the United States, c.1860-1930'
Tessa Storey (RHUL), 'Salute! Drinking to Health in Late Renaissance Italy'
Stella Moss (RHUL), '"An Abnormal Habit": Methylated Spirit Drinking in Interwar Britain
Honorary Research Associates
Dr Rebecca Preston
Honorary Research Associate 2012-15
Rebecca'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
Katherine 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
Currently 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.
Dr Natalia González Heras
Visiting Fellow February - May 2012
Natalia was a PhD student in the Department of Early Modern History, Universidad Complutense de Madrid. Her thesis is on the domestic interior of eighteenth-century middle class houses in Madrid. During 2012, she was a visiting researcher at the Centre on a “Short research period abroad” grant of the FPI (Formación de Personal Investigador) granted by the Spanish Government.
Dr Carolina Blutrach Jelin
Visiting Fellow June-August 2013
Carolina is Juan de la Cierva Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Universitat de València in Spain. In 2012, Carolina visited the Centre on a month-long fellowship funded by the Universitat de València, researching gender, material culture and memory among the Spanish aristocracy in the 17th century.
Upcoming events and conferences
Translating Women's History for Television
A lecture by Professor Pamela Cox (University of Essex), Thursday 2nd June, 6pm
The Moore Building Lecture Theatre at Royal Holloway, University of London
This talk explores the benefits and challenges of telling women’s histories on television and sets them in the broader context of creating, writing and filming TV documentaries. Pam has presented two highly successful BBC history documentaries. Servants: The True Story of Life Below Stairs (2012) focused on the 1.5 million people who worked in domestic service (more than worked in factories or farms) who are often portrayed as characters in period dramas, but whose real lives and stories are rarely shown. Shopgirls: The True Story of Life Behind the Counter (2014) traced how the predominantly male world of mid-Victorian retail shops was challenged by a major influx of female workers the turn of the century.
Pam works across both history and the social sciences and is the Chair of the Social History Society. She is currently completing a digital life-course project tracing 500 nineteenth-century lives. She is strongly committed to public history in all its forms, including work with policy makers in child protection and youth justice.
Everyone is welcome to attend and there is no booking required – we look forward to seeing you there!
Education, College Women and Suffrage: International Perspectives
An Interdisciplinary Conference 13-14 June 2018
The Conference will be held at Royal Holloway, University of London, and has been jointly organised by the Bedford Centre and the Centre for History of Women's Education, The University of Winchester.
Pioneers of women’s higher or further education in different countries both supported and distanced themselves from contemporary suffrage campaigns for a range of reasons. Women who had benefitted from a college education that had introduced them to ideas of equality, democracy and citizenship also joined both sides of the suffrage debate as evidenced in letters, diaries, newspaper reports and other ephemera. The debates took place within nations and on the international stage, and college women travelled extensively in their private and professional lives exchanging views through their correspondence and in their memories.
This international conference will provide a forum for those involved in teaching and researching suffrage and the history of women’s education (in schools, HE and heritage institutions) to discuss new directions. There will be workshops, panels, symposia, or posters on the themes of (but not limited to):
- College Women’s engagement with suffrage or anti-suffrage
- Institutional attitudes and responses to suffrage
- Alumnae networks, Associations and suffrage
- College Women’s inter/trans-national suffrage connection
- Oral histories of education and suffrage
- School and College magazines
- Public Histories of suffrage and education
- Educational archives and suffrage
- Memorialising suffrage and college heritage
- Teaching and learning
- Citizenship, Education and Suffrage
- Education and Suffrage in film, music, drama and fiction
- Using and accessing digital archives of education and suffrage
- Teaching suffrage beyond national boundaries
- Creating innovative suffrage resources & activities
The conference will also commemorate the funeral of Royal Holloway alumna Emily Wilding Davison, which took place on 14th June 1913 and was attended by other college alumnae.
Modules we teach
The history of women and gender is a key part of many courses in the History Department, but we also offer the following specialist courses.
HS2137 Tudor Queenship: Mary I and Elizabeth I 1553-1603, convened by Dr Anna Whitelock.
HS2234 Modern Girls: Women in Britain c.1914-1984, convened by Dr Stella Moss.
HS2263 Gender and Society in the Non-Western World, convened by Dr Sarah Ansari.
HS2314 'Dragon Ladies?': Society, Politics and Gender in Modern China, convened by Dr Weipin Tsai.
Staff and related research
Professor Sarah Ansari, expert in the history of South Asia in the twentieth century and women's lives in India and Pakistan.
Professor Sandra Cavallo, works on the social and cultural history of early modern Italy, focusing in particular on the 16th and 17th centuries. Her research interests lie at the crossroad between the history of medicine and the body and the history of gender and the family.
Dr. Dawn-Marie Gibson, Lecturer in Twentieth-Century American History, is working on a co-authored book titled, ‘Women of the Nation: Between Black Protest and Orthodox Islam’ which is due to be published by New York University Press in late 2013. She co-convenes the Gender and History in the Americas Seminar Series at the Institute of Historical Research.
Dr. Jane Hamlett, Reader in Modern British History, has worked on the history of Royal Holloway College and Holloway Sanatorium and has published on student rooms belonging to female Holloway students in the late nineteenth century.
Dr. Stella Moss, Lecturer is currently working on a monograph, based on her doctoral thesis, about women’s drinking in the English public house, 1914-39.
Dr. Anna Whitelock, Reader in Early Modern History, is an expert on Tudor Queenship and has published extensively on Mary Tudor. Her new book, on Elizabeth, will be out in 2013.
Dr. Alex Windscheffel, Senior Lecturer, is working on bankruptcy in Victorian Britain, including the challenge this posed to contemporary ideals of masculinity.