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Life Cycles, Bodies, Health and Disease

We look at the life cycle, including childhood, gender, disease, death and personhood.


Our highly interdisciplinary research draws together academics from across the School. It links with other schools in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, and beyond. We're dedicated to understanding infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, old age, disease, death, personhood, family history, migration and medicine, as well as sex, reproduction, gender and sexuality in the past, using a range of historical and archaeological methods.

Research interests

We have a wide range of research interests, including:

  • abortion, contraception and reproduction
  • childhood, adolescence and education
  • adulthood and ideas of maturity
  • sex, gender and sexuality throughout the extended life course
  • migration in crisis situations
  • health, disease and the environment
  • families, households and their changes over the life-cycle
  • relationships between humans and pet animals
  • illness and inherited conditions
  • death, mortuary practices and body disposal
  • fears, ghosts and dreams

Examples of our research

  • Chantal Conneller investigates human body metamorphoses in relation to animal bodies and material culture (such as masks), focusing particularly on the Palaeolithic and Mesolithic periods.
  • Chris Fowler explores the relationship between mortuary practices, personhood and kinship, particularly in Neolithic and Early Bronze Age Britain and Ireland, and technologies of the body in these periods
  • Eleanor Harrison’s PhD research analyzes relationships between gender and the life course in Neolithic Britain.
  • Andrea Dolfini is interested in burial practices in later prehistoric Europe, especially Copper Age Italy, and is investigating warrior burials and interpersonal violence in Chalcolithic and Bronze Age Europe.
  • Sally Waite explores constructs of sex, gender and sexuality throughout the extended life course in Classical Greece, and embodiment in pedagogical practice.
  • Emma Gooch’s research explores identity and relationships in ancient Greece, with a focus on children and women. She is also interested in material culture, iconography, the household archaeology of the ancient Mediterranean, and connections between humans and animals in antiquity. Emma is currently working on editing her doctoral thesis for publication as a monograph, Experiencing Childhood in Ancient Athens: Material Culture, Iconography, Burials and Social Identity in the 9th to 4th Centuries BCE.
  • Emily Knights' PhD research explores changing views of ageing and gender from late Archaic to early Hellenistic Athens, through social, cultural and biological perspectives.
  • Lisa-Marie Shillito’s research focuses on relationships between the natural and built environment and health and disease in the past, particularly with respect to shifts towards more sedentary lifeways. She is also interested in the use of non-skeletal human remains (e.g. coprolites) as indicators of health and disease in prehistoric periods, and development of non-destructive imaging methodologies for the analysis of human remains and other biological materials.
  • As a zooarchaeologist working in the historic period, Eric Tourigny is interested in the study of animal bodies and the material culture of animal death to reconstruct past human-animal relationships. His work on animal osteobiographies demonstrates the impact these relationships can have on animal bodies – e.g., how differing levels of care and wellbeing impacts the living body. Eric’s research on pet cemeteries demonstrates how Britain’s relationship with pets has changed over the past hundred years.
  • Kyra Helberg's research focuses on pre-anaesthetic surgical education, practice, and professional identity, c. 1746–1846. While her current doctoral thesis centres primarily on human dissection in this context, she explores all aspects of surgery within this period, from the perspective of both surgeons and patients. She also takes a keen interest in cultural attitudes towards the treatment of the human corpse and the material history of surgical instruments.
  • Claudia Soares is a modern British and Imperial historian, specialising in histories of family and childhood, the history of emotions, and welfare and poverty across the long nineteenth century.
  • Sarah Collins explores nocturnal fear - nyctophobia - as an historical phenomenon that resonates and shapes contemporary society. 
  • Violetta Hionidou works on abortion and contraception, famines, migration in crisis situations, families and households and popular and modern medicine.
  • Rob Dale is a historian of Russian and Soviet history, who has a long-standing research interest in the impact of war on physical and mental health, particularly in relation to war trauma.  He has published extensively on issues connected to the psychological impact of war and traumatic memories during and after the Second World War.
  • Fergus Campbell is researching the history of psychoanalysis in Ireland and planning an oral history of the British Psychoanalytical Society.
  • Clare Hickman’s research sits at the intersections of environmental, medical and sensory history, with afocus on human-landscape relationships and how a historical understanding of these is essential when thinking about health, wellbeing and the environment today. She is currently leading the Wellcome Trust network 'MedEnv: Intersections in Medical and Environmental Humanities' (2020-2023) with colleagues at Liverpool, Cardiff and Bristol Universities. She is also the Co-Investigator on the AHRC funded ‘In All Our Footsteps: Tracking, Mapping and Experiencing Rights of Way in Post-War Britain’ (2021-2024) where she leads the strand on pathways for meaning, health and wellbeing. Alongside these she is also a core collaborator on the ‘Senses and Health/Care Environments’ Network led by Victoria Bates, University of Bristol. 
  • Vicky Long’s research links the fields of modern British history, disability history, and health history. She is currently writing a book which examines how British doctors in the 1950s and 1960s dramatically reduced the mortality and morbidity arising from open spina bifida through surgical, medical and orthopaedic interventions which started shortly after birth, only for most doctors to reject these life-saving interventions in the majority of cases just a decade later, on the grounds that these babies' lives were not worth saving. This book developed out of a 2018-2019 Wellcome Seed Award, "Decision Making in Pregnancy after 1970".
  • Laura Tisdall works on childhood, adolescence, adulthood and chronological age in twentieth-century Britain.
  • Hannah Reynolds investigates British contraceptive user experiences in the latter half of the 20th century, with a focus on long-term intra-uterine devices, informed consent, and bodily autonomy.
  • Lucy Walsh's oral history PhD project examines the changing experiences of and treatments for childhood cancer in the UK from 1945-90. 

Our group members also take a leading role in wider Faculty and University-wide research networks, particularly Newcastle’s Medical Humanities Network, co-convened by Dr Vicky Long, and the Environmental Humanities Initiative, co-convened by Dr Shane McCorristine.


Research led teaching

We offer undergraduate and taught postgraduate students a range of modules thematically connected to our research across the degree programmes taught within History, Classics, and Archaeology. At BA level, these include:


  • Contesting Reproductive Rights in the UK and Ireland
  • War, Wounds, and Disabilities in the Modern Russian, American and British Worlds
  • Famines in History
  • Diversities of Sexuality and Gender in History
  • Sex, Bodies and Identities in Classical Greece
  • Madness, Nerves and Narratives in Georgian Britain, c. 1714-1830
  • Birth Control in the 19th and 20th Centuries
  • Lunatic to Citizen? Madness and Society since 1900
  • Human Dissection in Antiquity
  • The Archaeology of Animal Bones
  • The Rising Generation: Youth, Age and Protest in Cold War Britain
  • Punishing the Dead: Crime, Corpses and Culture


Our MA in the History of Medicine exploits the breadth of our research expertise, enabling students to study past practices and experiences of medicine over a wide geographical and chronological scope; often taken by intercalating medical students to gain a new perspective on their profession, this degree also serves as excellent preparation for doctoral research.


Archaeology and Classics modules relevant to this strand offered at MA include Bodies in Prehistoric Europe, Sex, Bodies and Identities in Classical Greece and The Archaeology of Animal Bones.


We hold a Wellcome Master's Programme Award in Humanities and Social Science for the period 2021/22 to 2023/24, and will be awarding five studentships over this period to students studying on the MA in History of Medicine. Many of our PhD students have secured funding from Wellcome or the AHRC Northern Bridge to support their studies. 


Newcastle Library’s Special Collections and Archives hold a number of valuable collections for historians of medicine, including the Pybus Collection: c. 2000 volumes, mostly classics of the history of medicine.





The Way My Body Feels and You Echo Through Time: Two interrelated exhibitions in the Great North Museum until Jan 2023 (Temporary exhibition space in the Hadrian’s Wall Gallery and the Shefton Gallery).


‘Abortion, contraception and family building practices across the First Demographic Transition: New views from Europe’, 10th of June 2022, co-organised by Violetta Hionidou and Eilidh Garrett, with the British Society of Population Studies 


Greece, Turkey and the past and present of forced migrations’, September 5th – 6th 2022, Newcastle University, UK. International conference supported by the British School at Athens, the British Institute at Ankara and the Britain-based Greek Group Political Studies Association and Turkish Group Political Studies Association. Organisers: Professor Violetta Hionidou and Dr Dimitris Skleparis.


'Infancy, Childhood, Personhood and Health: Multidisciplinary Perspectives' workshop, September 12th 2022.  Co-organized by the Medical Humanities Network and the Life Cycles, Bodies, Health and Disease research strand and in partnership with the Childhood and Youth NUCoRE.


Reimagining ‘Aliens’: Nomenclatures of Invasion, Interdisciplinary Connections and the Impact of Broader Discourses about the spread of Non-human Species’. May 27th-29th, 2022. Workshop held at Newcastle University to bring together researchers from the sciences and humanities to discuss the impact of uncritical terminology on research. Organisers: Dr Eric Tourigny, Dr Doris Gutsmiedl-Schümann and Dr Nanna Heidenreich.


‘Adulthood as a Category of Historical Analysis’ workshop, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, September 7th, 2021. Organised by Laura Tisdall.


'Unorthodox Burial Practices and Body Disposal: an interdisciplinary workshop', 11th December 2019


 'Death and the disrupted life course: an interdisciplinary workshop', 13th April 2018




  • Soares C. A Home from Home? Children and Social Care in Victorian and Edwardian Britain, 1870-1920. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2023
  • Campbell, F. 'Freud in Dublin? The formation of psychoanalysis in Ireland, 1928-1993', History Workshop Journal, Spring 2023, forthcoming


  • Elliott, B. and Conneller, C., 2022. Masks in context: representation, emergence, motility and self. World Archaeology, 52 (5), 655-666.
  • Fowler C. Social arrangements: kinship, descent and affinity in the mortuary architecture of Early Neolithic Britain and Ireland. Archaeological Dialogues, 29(1), 67-88.
  • Fowler C, Olalde I, Cummings V, Armit I, Büster L, Cuthbert S, Rohland N, Cheronet O, Pinhasi R, Reich D. 2022. A high-resolution picture of kinship practices in an Early Neolithic tomb. Nature, 601, 584–587.
  • Mitchell PD, Anastasiou E, Whelton HL, Bull ID, Parker Pearson M, Shillito L-M.Intestinal Parasites in the Neolithic Population Who Built Stonehenge (Durrington Walls, 2500 BCE). Parasitology 2022
  • Shillito L-M, Namdeo A, Bapat AV, Mackay H, Haddow SD. Analysis of fine particulates from fuel burning in a reconstructed building at Çatalhöyük World Heritage Site, Turkey: assessing air pollution in prehistoric settled communities. Environmental Geochemistry and Health2022, 44, 1033-1048
  • Tisdall L. State of the field: the modern history of childhoodHistory 2022, 107(378), 949-964.
  • Tisdall LA. ‘What a Difference it was to be a Woman and not a Teenager’: Adolescent Girls’ Conceptions of Adulthood in 1960s and 1970s Britain. Gender and History 2022, 34(2), 495-513
  • Collins, S. A Dangerously Empty Space: Crime and Punishment on English Wastelands. Landscapes 2022, 23(1), 48-66
  • Dale, R. “Testing the Silence: Trauma and Military Psychiatry in Soviet Russia and Ukraine During and After World War II,” in Peter Leese and Ville Kivimäki (eds), Trauma, Experience and Narrative in Europe After the Second World War (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, Studies in the History of Experience, 2022), pp. 55-87.”
  • Soares C. Emotions, Senses, Experience and the History of Education. History of Education
  • Hickman C. ‘Pine Fresh: The cultural and medical context of pine scent in relation to health – from the forest to the bathroom’, Medical Humanities, 48 (2022), 104-113
  • Sarah Bell, Clare Hickman and Frank Houghton, ‘From therapeutic landscape to therapeutic ‘sensescape’ experiences with nature? A scoping review’, Wellbeing Space and Society, online December 2022


  • Hickman, C.The Doctor's Garden: Medicine, Science, and Horticulture in Britain (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2021)
  • Blong JC, Shillito L-M. Coprolite Research: Archaeological and Paleoenvironmental Potentials. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences 2021, 13, 15.
  • Dolfini, A. 2021. Warrior graves reconsidered: metal, power and identity in Copper Age Italy, World Archaeology 53(5): 809-833.
  • Welker MH, Foster, A, and E. Tourigny. 2021. Pioneering Poultry: A Morphometric Investigation of Seventeenth‑ to Early Twentieth‑Century Domestic Chickens (Gallus gallus) in Eastern North America. International Journal of Historical Archaeology. DOI: 1007/s10761-021-00630-7.
  • Soares C. ‘The many lessons which the care of some gentle, loveable animal would give’: animals, pets, and emotions in children’s welfare institutions, 1870–1920. The History of the Family 2021, 26(2), 236-265.
  • Soares C. '"The ideal life for a child": family, identity, and memory for children in care, 1850-1930 '. In: Sian Pooley and Jonathan Taylor, ed. Children’s Experiences of Welfare in Modern Britain. London: University of London Press, 2021, pp.73-99.


  • Hionidou, V. Abortion and Contraception in Modern Greece, 1830-1967: Medicine, Sexuality and Popular Culture(London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2020)
  • Hionidou, V. H κατοχική πείνα μέσα από προφορικές μαρτυρίες. Η περίπτωση της Χίου, της Σύρου και της Μυκόνου (The Greek Famine of the 1940s through Oral Histories. The cases of Hios, Syros and Mykonos) (Athens: Patakis publishers, 2020)
  • Elliott, B., Nilsson Stutz, L. and Conneller, C., Clamber of the dead: material ontology and cosmological affect within the hunter-gatherer mortuary traditions of the Eastern Baltic 4000-3000 cal. BC. World Archaeology, 52(5), pp.707-723.
  • Tourigny E. Do all dogs go to heaven? Tracking human-animal relationships through the archaeological survey of pet cemeteries. Antiquity, 94(378), 1614-1629.


  • Tisdall L. A Progressive Education? How childhood changed in mid-twentieth-century English and Welsh schools. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 2019.
  • Soares C. Leaving the Victorian Children’s Institution: Aftercare, Friendship and Support. History Workshop Journal 2019, 87, 94-117.

2018 and earlier

  • McCorristine, S.The Spectral Arctic: A History of Dreams and Ghosts in Polar Exploration (London: UCL Press, 2018).
  • Hionidou, V. ‘Famine in Occupied Greece: “Choosing” between children and the elderly’, in Tatjana Tönsmeyer, ed., Coping with Hunger and Shortage under German Occupation in World War II (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), 203-222.
  • Fowler C. Personhood, the life course and mortuary practices in Mesolithic, Neolithic and Chalcolithic Europe. In: Nizzo,V, ed. Archeologia e antropologia della morte: 2. Corpi, relazioni e azioni: il paesaggio del rito, Rome, Italy: E.S.S. Editorial Service System, 83-120.
  • Soares C. 'A "Permanent Environment of Brightness, Warmth, and Homeliness": Domesticity and Authority in a Victorian Children's Institution'. Journal of Victorian Culture 2018, 23(1), 1-24.
  • Tisdall L. Education, parenting and concepts of childhood in England, c. 1945 to c. 1979. Contemporary British History 2017, 31(1), 24-46.
  • Violetta Hionidou, ‘Popular medicine and empirics in Greece, 1900-1950: an oral history approach’, Medical History (2016), 60(4), 492-513
  • Tourigny E, Thomas R, Guiry E, Earp R, Allen A, Rothenburger JL, Lawler D, Nussbaumer M. 2016. An osteobiography of a 19th-century dog from Toronto, Canada. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology, 26(5), 818-829.
  • Soares C. 'The Path to Reform? Problematic treatments and patient experience in nineteenth-century female inebriate institutions'. Cultural and Social History 2015, 12(3), 411-429.
  • Hionidou, V. Famine and Death in Occupied Greece, 1941-44. Cambridge Studies in Population, Economy, and Society in Past Times Series, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006)
  • Conneller, C. Becoming deer: corporeal transformations at Star Carr. Archaeological Dialogues 11(1): 37-56.
  • Fowler, C. The Archaeology of Personhood: an anthropological approach. Routledge, London.


Staff and Research Fellows


Dr Jonathan Andrews

Reader in the History of Psychiatry

+44 (0)191 208 5756


Professor Jeremy Boulton

Emeritus Professor

+44 (0)191 208 6492


Dr Fergus Campbell

Reader in Social & Cultural History

+44 (0)191 208 6694


Dr Nicola Clarke

Lecturer in the History of the Islamic World


Dr Sarah Collins

Leverhulme Early Career Fellow

+44 (0)191 208 7846


Dr David Creese

Lecturer in Classics

+44 (0)191 208 6473


Dr Robert Dale

Senior Lecturer in Russian History

+44 (0)191 208 7853


Professor Andrea Dolfini

Chair of Archaeology

+44 (0)191 208 3402


Professor Chris Fowler

+44 (0)191 208 5759


Dr James Gerrard

Associate Dean (Education) / Senior Lecturer in Roman Archaeology

+44 (0)191 208 5502


Dr Myra Giesen

Research Associate


Professor Susan-Mary Grant

Professor of American History

+44 (0)191 208 8588


Dr Matthew Haysom

Lecturer Ancient History & Archaeology

+44 (0)191 208 2224


Dr Clare Hickman

Reader in Environmental and Medical History


Professor Violetta Hionidou

Professor of Modern European History

+44 (0)191 208 5741


Dr Cristiana Iaia

Visiting Fellow


Dr Darakhshan Khan

Lecturer in Modern Islamic History


Dr Vicky Long

Senior Lecturer (20th Century British) 

0191 208 4693


Dr Shane McCorristine

Reader in Cultural History


Dr Luc Racaut

Lecturer in History

+44 (0) 191 208 8614


Dr Thomas Rutten

Reader in History of Med

+44 (0) 191 208 3547


Dr Felix Schulz

Senior Lecturer in Mod European History

+44 (0) 191 208 6466


Dr Samiksha Sehrawat

Senior Lecturer in South Asian History

+44 (0) 191 208 8262


Professor Lisa-Marie Shillito

Professor of Geoarchaeology; Director of Archaeology Labs

+ 44 (0) 191 208 2226


Dr Claudia Soares

NUAcT Fellow: Arts and Humanities


Dr Laura Tisdall

NU Academic Track Fellow (NUAcT)


Dr Eric Tourigny

Lecturer in Historical Archaeology


Dr Sally Waite

Senior Lecturer in Greek Art and Archaeology


PhD Students


Recent graduates

  • Dr John Burke - 'Britain and the Cyprus Crisis of 1974: Conflict, Colonialism and the Politics of Remembrance' 
  • Dr Michail Raftakis - 'Mortality Change in Hermoupolis, Greece, 1859-1940'
  • Dr Emma Gooch  - ‘The Material Culture of Children in Ancient Greece: An Interdisciplinary Exploration of Identity’





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    PhD students

    Recent graduates

    • Dr John Burke - 'Britain and the Cyprus Crisis of 1974: Conflict, Colonialism and the Politics of Remembrance' 
    • Dr Michail Raftakis - 'Mortality Change in Hermoupolis, Greece, 1859-1940'