Current Students

Jemima Short

I am a historian focussing on nineteenth-century France with a particular interest in the crossover between gender, religion, and politics.  My current research aims to challenge cultural and historical perceptions of nuns. Nuns are often invisible in histories of medicine and welfare, despite their importance in these sectors. Histories produced by the Church are dominated by the stories of saintly founders and their divine inspiration. As a result, little is understood about the work of unnamed, ordinary nuns who operated as supervisors and nurses in hospitals, hospices, and in people’s homes throughout the nineteenth century. This period was highly significant for the growth of the medical profession and developments in medical science such as germ theory. There were also growing tensions between the Church and state, the Church and medical practitioners, and an ongoing debate about the place of women in society. In this context, the work of nursing nuns, and its later absence from histories of medicine and welfare, takes on new significance. This research is a step towards understanding how women’s work - in the particular context of religious congregations - is valued, remembered, recorded, and written about, and aims to challenge the invisibility of this work. I am also interested in how nursing nuns shaped lived experiences of pain, illness, and bereavement.

Supervisory Team: Prof. Máire Cross, Modern Languages (Newcastle), Prof. Nigel Harkness, Modern Languages (Newcastle).

Start Date: September 2016