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The Cultural History of the NHS

Dr Roberta Bivins and Dr Mathew Thomson have secured Senior Investigator Awards and over £1m of funding from the Wellcome Trust to support a five-year programme of research on the cultural history of the National Health Service.

NHS Based in Warwick History Department’s Centre for the History of Medicine, ‘The Cultural History of the NHS’ ( will investigate the changing meaning of the NHS for the British people since its opening in 1948. Conservative politician Nigel Lawson famously remarked in the 1980s that the NHS was the closest thing the English people now had to a religion, and assumptions about the meaning of the NHS remain hugely influential in public debate. In a climate in which the future of the NHS is a matter of daily speculation and as we approach a natural point of reflection with the 70th anniversary in 2018, the research will provide us with the first major study of how our beliefs about the NHS really did evolve over this period.

The research will analyse public opinion, cultural representation in literature, film and television, and the role of the NHS itself and those who worked within it in the construction of meaning. We will also ask whether and how the NHS operated as a cultural force in Britain, for instance by encouraging or discouraging the integration of various populations – the elderly, the disabled, migrants – into wider cultures of community health. A further key element of the project will be working with communities and individuals to uncover a hidden history of belief, meaning, and feeling, and in retrieving artefacts and stories to bring this story to life in a web-based ‘people’s history of the NHS’.

For more information on the Cultural History of the NHS project or to express interest in being involved, please contact the Senior Investigators: or

Thu 19 February 2015, 12:12 | Tags: Research Announcement

John Morgan awarded Marion Madison Young Scholar's Prize

Congratulations are due to PhD student John Morgan, who has been awarded the Marion Madison Young Scholar's Prize for an essay on 'counterfeit Egyptians' he wrote whilst studying for his MA.


Wed 11 February 2015, 14:03 | Tags: Award Research Postgraduate Announcement

Emeritus Professor Gwynne Lewis' Obituary Published by The Guardian

Gwynne LewisFollowing the sad passing of Emeritus Professor Gwynne Lewis in December 2014, The Guardian has published his obituary as written by former members of staff Professor Colin Jones and Emeritus Professor Robin Okey.


Mon 26 January 2015, 08:55 | Tags: Announcement

Departmental Doctoral and MA Scholarships

The Director of Graduate Studies is pleased to announce that the Department will be offering a number of full-time doctoral studentships and MA bursaries to outstanding candidates applying for Autumn 2015-16 admission. The awards will be available to both Home-EU and overseas applicants applying to study full-time. In order to be considered, candidates need to have submitted an online University admission application by 12 January 2015.

Further details of both types of award can be found at


Mon 08 December 2014, 16:20 | Tags: Research Postgraduate Funding Competition Announcement

Warwick Gets Our Hospital Green Fingered!

An exciting new arts project has been created by The University of Warwick. ‘Growing Well: a recent history of growing your own’ by PhD student Sophie Greenway will go up on display at University Hospital in Coventry at the end of November as part of an ongoing partnership with the Hospital’s Healing Arts Programme.

‘Growing Well’ tells the story of food growing in Coventry over the twentieth century, including ‘Dig for Victory’ during the Second World War, an experimental housing project that was to include organic growing on site, an attempt to repackage allotments as leisure gardens, and the establishment of the famous organic gardens at Ryton, now called Garden Organic. Visitors can also learn what UHCW is doing to promote healthy eating and the outdoors, including the Hospital’s award-winning Jubilee Nature Reserve.

On Tuesday 25th November between 10am and 1pm there will be an event held in University Hospital’s Outpatients department to celebrate the new exhibit and promote growing and eating well in Coventry and Warwickshire. To find out more and add your own memories to the project visit

Growing Well Poster

Editors Notes:

Sophie Greenway is a PhD student at the Centre for the History of Medicine, and has also worked as a history teacher and museum curator. Sophie’s project, entitled ‘Growing well: Dirt, health and the home gardener in Britain 1900-1970’ explores links between the environment and health in the context of domestic vegetable growing. She investigates the historical reasons why some people prefer to buy polished carrots, whilst others regard the muddy ones from a local veg box as more healthy.

The Healing Arts Programme at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust compliments patient care and welfare through a diverse range of activities, including visual and performing arts. The programme is funded by UHCW Charity and helps soften the hospital with quirky art exhibitions, creative workshops in ward dayrooms and music. For more information visit

Sophie can be contacted in the following ways:

twitter: SophieGreenway1

Thu 20 November 2014, 11:16 | Tags: Impact and Public Engagement Research Announcement

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