Dr Rebeccca O'Neal

School of History, Philosophy and Digital Humanities

Teaching assistant


Full contact details

Dr Rebeccca O'Neal
School of History, Philosophy and Digital Humanities (nee Department of History)
Jessop West
1 Upper Hanover Street
S3 7RA
  • B.A. History (First Class), University College London, 2006
  • M.A. Renaissance and Early Modern History (Distinction), University of York, 2011
Research interests

My research broadly looks at the work of metaphor and analogy in early modern medicine. I’m especially interested in how early modern figures, such as Thomas Willis, are deployed as founding figures for contemporary scientific practices, particularly in neuroanatomical studies.

My thesis closely examines the work of Willis - a founding figure for the modern brain sciences - by exploring the relationship between his use of language and his practices around the brain. It considers how selective readings of Willis’s works are used to inform present centred concerns in the modern brain sciences. In its focus on metaphor, the thesis also addresses the broader discussion around the relationship between literature and science.

Teaching activities

University of Sheffield Teaching Assistant: 

  • HST112 - Paths from Antiquity to Modernity 
  • HST115 - The 'Disenchantment' of Early Modern Europe, c. 1570-1770
  • HST117 - The Making of the Twentieth Century

Queen Mary, University of London Associate Tutor:

  • Reformation to Revolution: Europe and the World 1500-1800
Public engagement

Wellcome Trust Public Engagement with Neuroscience Award (co-applicant) (2013)

Co-applicant on the Carnival of Lost Emotions: Engaging the Public about the History of Feeling – Engage film festival, showcasing best practice in public engagement; Carnival shortlisted for Engagement and Enterprise Award at QMUL – in the ‘Inspire’ category (2015)). It has been performed at The Natural History Museum, Barbican Centre and Edinburgh Fringe, amongst other places.