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Dr Michael Brown

Lecturer in Modern British History

Michael Brown

Bowland College



PhD supervision

I am interested in supervising PhD students working on the topics of medicine, surgery, war, gender, bodies, and emotions from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries.


I am a cultural historian of modern Britain (roughly 1750-1914), interested in the fields of medicine and surgery, gender, the body, emotions, and war. My most recent research has explored the emotions of nineteenth-century British surgery, and demonstrates the vital, if changing, role that feelings played in shaping surgical identities, and in structuring relations between surgeons and their patients. This research has been published in a number of journal articles and in my latest book, Emotions and Surgery in Britain, 1793-1912 (Cambridge University Press, 2022). I am currently developing two research projects with Professor Joanne Begiato of Oxford Brookes University. The first of these considers the embodied and emotional history of the hand in Victorian Britain, while the other explores the material and emotional history of popular militarism in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Career Details

I completed a BA in History at the University of York (1998) before studying for an MSc in the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine at the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine/University of London (1998-1999). I then returned to York for my PhD in History (2000-2004). My first academic job was as Lecturer in Modern British and European History at the University of Kent (2005-2007). Following this I was a Wellcome Trust Research Fellow in the Centre for the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine at the University of Manchester (2007-2010). Before arriving at Lancaster in 2022 I was Senior Lecturer and, later, Reader in History at the University of Roehampton (2010-2022).

Research Interests

My research encompass a range of topics in the cultural history of Britain in the long nineteenth century (1750-1914). Broadly speaking, my interests fall into two principal areas, namely medicine and surgery on the one hand, and war on the other. However, these interests have often overlapped and are linked by a broader commitment to the history of gender, the emotions, embodiment and, increasingly, materiality. 

My first book, which derived from my PhD, was entitled Performing Medicine: Medical Culture and Identity in Provincial England, c.1760-1850 (Manchester University Press, 2011). This explored the changing configurations of medical identity across the later eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, from a culture of intellectual liberality and civic inclusivity to one of collective professional self-identification and disciplinary exclusivity. I have explored other aspects of the cultural, ideological, and ideational elaboration of medical modernity in a range of articles in journals such as English Historical Review, Journal of British Studies, Social History, and Journal of Social History.

Between 2016 and 2021 I was Principal Investigator on a Wellcome Trust Investigator Award project entitled Surgery & Emotion (108667/Z/15/Z). This project charted the emotional landscape of surgery in Britain from c.1800 to the present and consisted of a team of three researchers, an engagement officer and a PhD student. To date, it has produced nearly twenty academic outputs including three monographs published or in press and a special edited issue of Medical Humanities. My most recent book, Emotions and Surgery in Britain, 1793-1912 (Cambridge University Press, 2022) derives from this project. In addition to this we also ran a range of professional and public engagement activities and produced four films about our research, which you can watch here.

I have also published on the cultural history of war and gender in nineteenth-century Britain. This research includes an article on empire, technology, and military masculinity for Cultural and Social History and a co-edited collection (for which I also co-wrote a chapter) entitled Martial Masculinities: Experiencing and Imagining the Military in the Long Nineteenth Century (Manchester University Press, 2019, pbk 2021).

Since arriving at Lancaster I have been developing new research interests in collaboration with Prof. Joanne Begiato of Oxford Brookes University. These bring together our shared interests in masculinity, embodiment, and the emotions in nineteenth-century Britain.

Research Grants

  • 2019-2021 - Wellcome Trust Research Enrichment Award: Public Engagement – Surgery & Emotion (£19,650)
  • 2016-2021 - Wellcome Trust Investigator Award – Surgery & Emotion (£628,760)
  • 2007-2010 - Wellcome Trust Research Fellowship (£131,788)

Professional Role

I am currently Director of Engagement for the Department of History

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