January 09, 2012

Pre–PhD Me: BA

Before I get into the rich land that is my PhD research, I just wanted to hark back to the days before all of that, and discuss some of my research interests before social work. If you want to talk about any of these, do get in touch. Although I may no longer be explicitly working on them, they have greatly influenced where I am now, and I am still keeping my eyes open for any developments.

- for a module on the history of psychiatry (with Professor Hilary Marland), I did some brief research into the use of photography in mid-nineteenth century psychiatry. In this essay, I argued that historians have neglected to study photos of mentally ill patients as reflective of contemporary ideas about photography, and have assumed that dressing the subjects up like Shakespeare characters said something about how the mentally ill were seen. I, on the other hand, argued that at this time photography was keen to emulate painting, which meant using some of its subject matter. However, I acknowledged that many photos of patients, especially female patients, were altered in order to conform to contemporary ideas about madness.

- for an essay in the same module, I wrote about the gendering of space in English asylums, 1800-1860. In this essay, I argued that just because patients were segregated by gender did not mean that space in asylums could not be gendered. In fact, examples abound, whether it was objects (caged birds in female wings) or architecture (buildings which encouraged male attendents to spy on female patients). Moreover, the common areas were often a site of competing gazes, as can be seen in prints of 'lunatic balls' and in photos of dining areas. Furthermore, patients' attitudes towards the asylum space was analysed along gendered lines, so that a female patient's violence towards flowers in the garden was seen as evidence of her madness.

- I also did some research into East German film as part of my studies for German, which I may write about another time. Just remembering what I did two and a half years ago seems to be taxing enough for the moment...

BA Me, in a field (note: not doing research)

This is BA me, in a field, not doing any research...

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