Postdoctoral Research Assistant, History of Medicine (Life of Breath) based in the Department of Philosophy, Bristol University

The Life of Breath project proposes that breathing and breathlessness can only be understood fully by drawing not only on physiological and pathological information, but also on cultural, historical and phenomenological sources. The key goal of the project is to use medical humanities to inform interventions in diseases in which breathlessness is a symptom.

Applicants are expected to pursue a three-year project of research within the medical history research strand of the ‘Life of Breath’ project. Because its defining symptom is breathlessness, it provides an important and prevalent standard to focus clinical attention. Historical texts pertaining to breathing problems, including bronchitis and emphysema, texts documenting advances in pathology and medical diagnostic tools, and more recent clinical guidelines for COPD, will be analysed. Mapping the historical trajectory of the medical understanding of this prevalent cause of mild to severe breathlessness will illuminate, and be illuminated by, literary and cultural history, and provide an important comparator to the patient experience.

This research project will be carried out by an experienced postdoctoral researcher and will be overseen by a multidisciplinary team, consisting of Prof Tim Cole (Bristol, history); Prof Gareth Williams (Bristol, medical history); Dr Ronit Yoeli-Tlalim (Goldsmiths, medical history); and Prof. Havi Carel (Bristol, phenomenology of breathlessness and the project PI). We will seek additional guidance from Prof Mark Jackson (Exeter), who is a member of the project’s advisory board and an expert in medical history, and in particular the history of respiratory illness.

Candidates considering applying for this post are encouraged to contact Prof Havi Carel to discuss their ideas and the post. More details can be found here.


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Centre for Medical Humanities
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