Dr Katherine Foxhall

Lecturer in Modern HistoryKFoxhall

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Personal details

I completed my BA, MA and PhD in the Department of History, University of Warwick. My major research interests lie in modern social, cultural and environmental histories of health across local and global scales. Between 2008 and 2010 I worked at the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine at the University of Manchester. I then moved to the Department of History, King’s College London, where I held a Wellcome Trust Postdoctoral Research Fellowship from 2011-2013 to undertake a study of the history of migraine. I joined the School of History at Leicester in September 2013.


Foxhall K (2015) The English System: Quarantine, Immigration and the Making of a Port Sanitary Zone. SOCIAL HISTORY OF MEDICINE, 28 (4), pp. 934-935 10.1093/shm/hkv048

Foxhall K (2014) Making Modern Migraine Medieval: Men of Science, Hildegard of Bingen and the Life of a Retrospective Diagnosis. Medical History: devoted to the history and bibliography of medicine and the related sciences, 58 (3), pp. 354-374 10.1017/mdh.2014.28 http://hdl.handle.net/2381/36258


Foxhall K (2013) The Colonial Travels and Travails of Smallpox Vaccine c. 1820-1840. In: Marland H, Cox C (Eds.) Migration, Health and Ethnicity in the Modern World pp. 83-103 ISBN13: 9781137303226

Foxhall K (2012) Health, Medicine and the Sea: Australian Voyages, c. 1815-1860. ISBN10: 0719085713 ISBN13: 978-0719085710

Foxhall K (2011) Fever, Immigration and Quarantine in New South Wales, 1837-1840. Social History of Medicine, 24 (3), pp. 624-642 10.1093/shm/hkq109 http://hdl.handle.net/2381/28250

Foxhall K (2011) From Convicts to Colonists: The Health of Prisoners and the Voyage to Australia, 1823-53.The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 39 (1), pp. 1-19 10.1080/03086534.2011.543793

Foxhall K (2010) Heat, calms and witches in the sky: Interpreting the tropical Atlantic in the mid nineteenth century. Weather, Climate and Society, 2 (2), pp. 91-102

Foxhall K (2010) Interpreting the tropical Atlantic climate: Diaries from the mid-nineteenth-century Australian voyage. Weather, Climate, and Society, 2 (2), pp. 91-102 10.1175/2010WCAS1029

Foxhall K (0) Migraine Histories: Looking for Migraine Through the Centuries.


My research interests include the social and cultural history of health and illness, colonial medicine and migration, imprisonment and institutions. I am also interested in maritime and environmental history. My PhD and subsequent research centred on the maritime experiences of convict and free emigrants who sailed to Australia in the nineteenth century. This resulted in the publication of my first book: Health, Medicine and the Sea: Australian Voyages, c.1815-1860 (2012).

I have also published on topics including maritime and border health and medicine, colonial vaccination, medical experimentation, quarantines, and am developing work on the common experience of illnesses including scurvy and migraine. Since 2011, I have been working on a book-length project about the social, cultural and medical history of migraine.

My projects are all driven by an interest in how different environments, societies, cultures and life-histories affect knowledge and experiences of health and illness. I am particularly interested in examining who gets to represent ideas about health and illness in different times, places and conditions. How have national and colonial governments used medical rationales as a way to deal with ‘problem’ populations? Whose knowledge gets to appear and matter in the historical record? What kinds of arguments about the past do different kinds of evidence allow us to construct?

Current projects

My current research project (funded from 2011-2014 by a Wellcome Trust Research Fellowship), is a cultural, social and medical history of migraine. In addition to a number of peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters and blog entries, my book in progress is provisionally titled 'Migraine: An Episodic History'. The project draws on an eclectic range of historical evidence over seven centuries – ranging from medieval wound men and early-modern domestic recipe books, to nineteenth-century medical case books, personal correspondence, entries to art competitions, and YouTube animations of migraine aura.

Throughout the project I am concerned with questions of medical experience, knowledge and authority: Who speaks about illness in particular circumstances? Whose knowledge is retained in the historical record? Are some voices silenced when another group speaks? I am also interested in using the project to develop current discussions in medical history and humanities about patient histories and illness narratives.

In addition, I am continuing to develop work on the history of medicine in maritime, colonial, and Australian contexts, with projects on the history of quarantine and the health of prisoners.


Australian history; environmental history; history of health and medicine; colonial migration.

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