Dr Elsa Richardson

Strathclyde Chancellor's Fellow

History

Personal statement

I currently hold a Chancellor’s Fellowship in the History of Health and Wellbeing at the Centre for the Social History of Health and Healthcare (CSHHH). 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. With the help of a Small Grant from the British Academy and Leverhulme Trust, I am working on a project looking at the life and influence of Eustace Hamilton Miles, the author and owner of several vegetarian and health food shops post-WW1.


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 dominant cultural forms. 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.

In addition to lecturing in the history of medicine at the University of Strathclyde and developing my own research, I also curate arts and science events for public institutions. Working with an arts curator, Alice Carey, I have programmed several large-scale events at the Wellcome Collection in London. In 2018/19 I was named one of the BBC Radio 3/AHRC New Generation Thinkers.

Publications

Cranks, clerks, and suffragettes : the vegetarian restaurant in British culture and fiction 1880-1914
Richardson Elsa
Literature and Medicine Vol 39, pp. 133-153 (2021)
https://doi.org/10.1353/lm.2021.0010
Man is not a meat-eating animal : vegetarians and evolution in late-Victorian Britain
Richardson Elsa
Victorian Review Vol 45, pp. 117-134 (2019)
https://doi.org/10.1353/vcr.2019.0034
Stemming the black tide of mud : psychoanalysis and the occult periodical
Richardson Elsa
The Occult Imagination in Britain, 1875-1947 (2019) (2019)
Second Sight in the Nineteenth Century : Prophecy, Imagination and Nationhood
Richardson Elsa
Palgrave Studies in Literature, Science and Medicine Palgrave Studies in Literature, Science and Medicine (2017)
New queer histories : Laura Doan's Disturbing Practices and the Constance Maynard Archive
Richardson Elsa
Women's History Review Vol 25, pp. 161-168 (2015)
https://doi.org/10.1080/09612025.2015.1047249
Inspired by Constance Maynard : exploring women's sexual, emotional and religious lives through their writings
Mackelworth Jane, Eyre Angharad, Richardson Elsa
Women's History Review Vol 25, pp. 1-16 (2015)
https://doi.org/10.1080/09612025.2015.1047246

More publications

Teaching

I have experience teaching on the history of medicine and the history of psychiatry, and I have co-authored undergraduate courses on the history of the supernatural and the history of the modern self. At Strathclyde I teach on 'Madness and Society', convene second-year course, 'Disease and Society' and a fourth-year special subject 'From Ancient Passions to Modern Feelings: The History of Emotions'. 

Research interests

Science and the supernatural, the history of psychiatiry and psychology, vegetarianism, utopian social movements, stress and the stomach, work and food, second-wave feminism and psychoanalysis.

Professional activities

Lentil Soup Beyond the Veil
Speaker
13/7/2021
Ghost Hunting in the Highlands: Ada Goodrich-Freer and Scottish Second Sight
Speaker
10/6/2021
They have not our thoughts of weight and measure’: Second Sight, History and Subjectivity
Speaker
3/7/2019
Love at the Crank's Table: Sex and the Natural Diet
Speaker
11/6/2019
‘Lentil Soup Beyond the Veil: Spiritualism, Vegetarianism and Dietetics’
Speaker
28/5/2019
Dining with the Dead
Speaker
1/4/2019

More professional activities

Projects

Eating On The Go: Cultures of Consumption and the Railway in Britain, 1840-1940
Richardson, Elsa (Principal Investigator)
01-Jan-2019 - 31-Jan-2023
The First Health Food Empire: Eustace Miles and Life Reform, 1900-1930
Richardson, Elsa (Principal Investigator)
01-Jan-2017 - 31-Jan-2019

More projects