Kate McAllister

Department of History

Research student

Profile

Thesis title: Encephalitis Lethargica and antisocial behaviour in British medicine and psychiatry, 1918-1959

Supervisors: 

Period:

Post-1800 

Thesis abstract:

In 1918, a Professor of Medicine at the University of Sheffield named Arthur Hall was among the first in Britain to identify and describe an epidemic disease named Encephalitis Lethargica. Over the next three decades, this disease category would evolve in a multitude of ways, shifting from a primarily 'acute', 'physical' disease to one which was recognised to cause serious and chronic 'mental after-effects'.

Focusing on cases experiencing such changes in behaviour, this project uses Encephalitis Lethargica as a lens through which to contextualise the changing medical, psychiatric and psychological conceptions of antisocial behaviour in Britain from 1918 to 1959.

Building upon historical analyses which have hitherto explored this process through paying attention to the links between moral defect and psychopathy, this project offers an alternative chronology through focusing the emergence of behaviours associated with Encephalitis Lethargica which were antisocial but not necessarily illegal or criminal.

In the era of COVID-19, moreover, this project hopes to shed light on the ways in which epidemic diseases evolve in relation to particular medical, political and economic factors and concerns, and more importantly, the long-term implications of these relationships. 

Qualifications
  • PhD History, University of Sheffield, 2018 - present
  • MA in Historical Research, University of Sheffield, 2017
  • BA Hons in History, University of Liverpool, 2015
Grants

Awards:

  • PhD scholarship: Doctoral Studentship in Humanities and Social Science funded by the Wellcome Trust
Teaching activities

University of Sheffield Teaching Assistant: 

  • HST119 The Transformation of the United Kingdom, 1800 to the present