Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

The Disease Within: Confinement in Europe, 1400–1800

This event has now finished. Please see our events website for details of upcoming events at Brookes.


Who this event is for

  • Everyone


Headington Campus, Gipsy Lane site


This two-day conference will bring together leading scholars from medical history, early modern social history and architectural history to exchange and debate ideas regarding the relationship between health and architecture in institutions of confinement. Two central themes will be explored: the effect of confinement on the health of those within the institutions and debates about the potential effects of unhealthy bodies of the poor, sick, criminal and dangerous inmates on wider towns and cities. Despite the best attempts by authorities, inhabitants and their diseases continued to pose a risk to communities’ health and morality from behind closed doors and beyond high walls.

Plenary Speaker: Dr Kevin Siena (Trent University and Oxford Brookes International Research Fellow 2010-11)

The study of early modern Europe’s institution building has been overshadowed by debates regarding discipline and punishment. Only recently has a revisionist history of these sites been undertaken. The speakers at the conference have been at the forefront of this important work. As yet, there has been little or no attempt to consider confinement as a broad public health policy, encompassing a wide variety of institutions, across a broad time period.

Speakers include

  • Dr Patricia Allerston (National Galleries of Scotland)
  • Dr Jonathan Andrews (University of Newcastle)
  • Professor Anne Digby (Oxford Brookes University)
  • Professor Guy Geltner (University of Amsterdam)
  • Professor Vanessa Harding (Birkbeck College, University of London)
  • Professor John Henderson (Birkbeck College, University of London) 
  • Professor Tim Hitchcock (University of Hertfordshire)
  • Dr Peter Jones (Oxford Brookes University)
  • Dr Peter Kirby (University of Manchester)
  • Dr Laura McGough (University of Ghana)
  • Dr Tim McHugh (Oxford Brookes University)
  • Dr Alysa Levene (Oxford Brookes University)
  • Dr Fabrizio Nevola (University of Bath)
  • Professor Carole Rawcliffe (University of East Anglia)
  • Dr Jane Stevens Crawshaw (Oxford Brookes University)
  • Dr Sethina Watson (University of York)