Students Staff

Academic Staff

Dr Lisa Smith

Position in departmentDirector Digital History Centre; Graduate Director Research
Staff positionLecturer in Digital History
Telephone01206 874120
Academic support hoursOn leave until January 2018.

It’s as simple as this: I like stories. People and their stories are endlessly interesting. In fact, I very nearly went into literature instead of history, but what made me realise that I should be a historian is that I like piecing together stories from fragments of information.

I studied history at the University of Alberta and the University of Essex. From 2002 to 2015, I was a member of the Department of History at the University of Saskatchewan. In September 2015, I returned to the University of Essex.

Ph.D., University of Essex (2002)
M.A., University of Alberta (1997)
B.A. Hons. in Honours History, University of Alberta (1995)

Current research

My long-standing interests are on gender, health, the household, and the body--particularly, pain, illness experience, reproduction/infertility and domestic medicine. I am developing an online database of Sir Hans Sloane's correspondence (c. 1685-1750) and am a co-investigator on a crowd-sourcing recipes transcription project (Early Modern Recipes Online Collective). In addition, I am a founding editor for The Recipes Project blog and write about my research at The Sloane Letters Blog, Notches, Wonders & Marvels. I tweet as @historybeagle.

Research interests
  • Britain and France, ca. 1600-1800;
  • Digital History;
  • Gender;
  • the Family;
  • the Body;
  • Medicine and Science;
  • Supernatural

Postgraduate Supervision

Early modern topics supervised have included:

  • early modern supernatural debates;
  • recipes as scientific knowledge;
  • illness narratives and religion;
  • military nursing; and
  • women's intellectual networks.

Dissertation Supervision

I am happy to supervise projects on any of the topics listed above, as well as more general topics (ca. 1500-1850).

Teaching responsibilities

On leave autumn 2017.

HR111 'Society, Culture and Politics in Europe, 1500-1750'

CS101, 'Modern Revolutions in Science, Politics and Culture'

HR250 'Supernatural and Natural Worlds in Early Modern Europe'

HR350 'Pain: A Short History'

Plus, some lectures on: HR100 'The Making of the Modern World, 1776-1989', HR200 'History Works: Beyond your B.A.', CS220 'Navigating the Digital World', and HR231 'Choosing Your Past'.



  • “Bespelled in the Archives”, The Appendix: A New Journal of Narrative and Experimental History 1, 2 (2013):
  • “The Body Embarrassed? Rethinking the Leaky Male Body in Eighteenth-Century England and France”, Gender and History, 23, 1 (2011): 26-46.
  • “Imagining Women’s Fertility before Technology”, Journal of Medical Humanities, 31, 1 (2010): 69-80.
  •  “‘An Account of an Unaccountable Distemper’: The Experience of Pain in Early Eighteenth-Century England and France”, Eighteenth-Century Studies 41, 4 (2008): 459-480.
  • “The Relative Duties of a Man: Domestic Medicine in England and France, ca. 1670-1740”, Journal of Family History 31, 3 (2006): 237-256.
  • “Reassessing the Role of the Family: Women’s Medical Care in Eighteenth-Century England”, Social History of Medicine 16, 3 (2003): 327-342.

Book Chapters

  • “Friend and Physician to the Family”, pp. 48-56 in From Books to Bezoars: Sir Hans Sloane, Collector of an Age. Ed. A. Walker, M. Hunter and A. MacGregor. London: British Library Publications, 2012.
  • “Secrets for Healthy Living in the Eighteenth Century: The Medical Casebooks of Vivant-Augustin Ganiare”, in Secrets and Knowledge: Medicine, Science and Commerce (1500-1800). Eds. E. Leong and A. Rankin. Farnham: Ashgate, 2011.
  • “La Raillerie des Femmes? Les Femmes, la Sterilité et la Société en France à l’Époque Moderne”, in Femmes en Fleurs, Femmes en Corps : Sang, Santé, Sexualités, du Moyen Age aux Lumières. Eds. C. McClive and N. Pellegrin. Saint-Etienne: Presses Universitaires de Saint-Etienne, 2010.

Digital Projects



Recent Talks



  • Roundtable on 'The Place of the Digital History of Medicine', Society for the Social History of Medicine Conference, 7-10 July 2016, University of Kent (organiser & participant)
  • 'Hans Sloane's Human Fossils', Corpses, Cadavers and Catalogues: The Mobilities of Dead Bodies and Body Parts, Past and Present, 17-18 May 2016, London (speaker)
  • 'Finding Hans Sloane', Social History Society Conference, 21-23 March 2016, University of Lancaster (speaker)
  • 'Close-reading and Crowd-sourcing', Citizen Science in Historical Perspective, 19 February 2016, Max Planck Institute, Berlin (invited talk)
  • 'Fragments from an Eighteenth-century Family Scandal', History of Medicine Group, 17 February 2016, Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh (invited talk)
  • 'Considering an Account of an Eighteenth-Century Caesarean Section', The Medical World of Early Modern Ireland, 3-4 September 2015, Trinity College Dublin (speaker)


  • 'Hans Sloane and the Huguenots: Crossing Borders in the Republic of Letters', Social Networks Conference 1450-1850, 16-17 July 2015, Sheffield University (speaker)
  • 'Reconstructing Dr. Sloane: Gender, Expertise and Identity for an Eighteenth-Century Physician', History of Medicine Unit, 4 June 2015, University of Birmingham (invited talk)

Recent Public Engagement Talks

  • Finding Hans Sloane, Celebration of Science, Kensington & Chelsea Borough (October 2016).
  • ‘Recipes to improve your love life: advice from the eighteenth century’, Whipple Museum of the History of Science, Cambridge (May 2016)

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