Author Archives: Alice Johnstone

Call for Papers: ‘Suicide, Society and Crisis’

May 18 @ 9:00 am – May 19 @ 5:00 pm
Humanities Research Institute
University of Sheffield, 18-19 May 2018

A Symposium funded by the Wellcome Trust (Seed Award)

We welcome proposals for papers, panels or posters that consider various aspects of the relationship between mental health crises (and suicide more specifically) and social, political, economic and international crises from both historical and contemporary perspectives.

Please send paper proposals of approximately 250 words and a short bio to and, by 9 March 2018.

Those selected to participate will be notified by the end of March. There will be no conference fee, and some funding is available to cover speakers’ travel (within the UK) and accommodation in Sheffield. For further information and updates, visit:

Globally and at many times in history, instances and rates of suicide have been hugely symbolic resources for making statements about society. The key goal of this symposium is to investigate the links between suicide and socio-political crisis, at macro and micro levels. We seek to test psychological, psychiatric, sociological and historical theories about how dramatic socio-political change is internalised by individuals. In particular, we will explore how moments of ‘crisis’ —a term which must itself be problematised— determine how suicides are recorded, represented and perceived, and whether the incidence and nature of personal crisis can be linked to broader, national events. Our research questions include but are not limited to:

• What kind of correlations have been made, past and present, between public and personal crisis?

• Do suicide statistics (which should themselves be carefully scrutinised) vary in times of socio-political crisis, and, if so, why?

• How do psychiatrists and pathologists, historians and social scientists, jurists and coroners, politicians, the media and the public understand suicide epidemics as symptomatic of instability and of collective crises?

A deeper understanding of historical and sociological patterns in suicide epidemiology can be achieved by pooling research findings, synergizing methods, and jointly developing interdisciplinary conceptual models. These understandings should also inform policy and practice, and we aim to develop strategies to raise public awareness and inform mental health policy-makers and practitioners. The symposium provides us with the opportunity to make new connections between scholars from across the disciplines, charities and third sector organizations, the media and policy-makers, and to plan ahead for collaborative projects and follow-on funding.

This two-day international symposium has been made possible by a Wellcome Seed Award supporting Dr Julie V. Gottlieb’s project ‘Suicide, Society and Crisis’, and it is supported by Medical Humanities Sheffield. Dr Gottlieb is working on a case study of an apparent suicide epidemic triggered by war fear during the Munich Crisis and its fallout (1938-39). This and other historical examples strongly resonate with contemporary suicide epidemics linked to dramatic social change: suicide and PTSD in the Iraq Wars; increase in suicides since the 2008 Financial Crisis; mental health issues in refugee communities; right up to the psychological fallout of Britain’s EU referendum.

We are delighted to welcome Prof Mathew Thomson (University of Warwick) as our keynote speaker. Plenary speakers include Dr Maria Teresa Brancaccio, Dr Sarah Chaney, Dr Moritz Föllmer, Dr Christian Goeschel, Dr Julie Gottlieb, Dr Laura King, Dr David Lederer, Dr Ian March, Prof Janet Miron, Dr Chris Millard, Dr China Mills, Prof Sarah Waters, and Prof Phil Withington.


Exhibition: Criminal Lives, 1780-1925: Punishing Old Bailey Convicts

The exhibition Criminal Lives, 1780-1925: Punishing Old Bailey Convicts is based on research by historians at the University of Sheffield and partner universities that has traced the lives of British convicts from the 18th and 19th centuries. Produced by the Arts and Humanities Research Council Digital Panopticon project in partnership with the London Metropolitan Archives (LMA), the exhibition combines original Victorian photographs, documents and prints from the city’s archives with convict life stories uncovered by the Digital Panopticon project. It also includes items such as a Victorian policeman’s truncheon, a reproduction Millbank Prison uniform and convicts’ photographs drawn from collections in Britain and Australia.

The exhibition sheds light on the lives of convicts from the Gordon Riots in 1780 to the early 20th century, including prostitute and pickpocket Charlotte Walker; Ikey Solomons, the notorious receiver of stolen goods; and serial thief Thomas Limpus, who was transported to Africa, America and Australia. Bob Shoemaker, Professor of History at the University of Sheffield, said: “This exhibition brings together a fascinating set of records from the LMA’s collections and other archives to show how the reformatory prison became the chief form of punishment in our judicial system. By using convict life stories to explain the origins of the modern prison, we hope that ‘Criminal Lives’ will help viewers see punishment in a new light.”

Criminal Lives, 1780-1925: Punishing Old Bailey Convicts opens in December 2017 at the London Metropolitan Archives (LMA) and will be on display until 16 May 2018. For visitor information, see here.

The Digital Panopticon project’s website, which enables users to trace the lives of British convicts imprisoned or transported to Australia, features on a new second year module for history students at the University of Sheffield.

Call for Applications: The Effects of National Crises on Mental Health with Dr Julie Gottlieb

The Effects of National Crises on Mental Health:
Studying the history of emotion using a stress-response paradigm

University of Sheffield students completing their second year of undergraduate study are invited to apply to this SURE scheme. Students in History, Medicine, and Sociology are especially encouraged to apply, but students from all disciplines will be considered

About the scheme:
SURE offers The University of Sheffield’s undergraduate students an opportunity to become directly involved in the research activity of the University, take part in “real life” research projects in subject areas that are of special interest, and experience what it’s like to work in partnership with academic staff or collaboratively in a research group.

Prof. Scott Weich (Chair of Mental Health) and Dr Julie V. Gottlieb (Reader in History)

Bursary amount:
Students will be awarded a bursary of £1,080 for a six-week project. This will be paid in two lots; 70% in week one, and 30% on completion of the project. A modest expense allowance is also available for research trips and subscriptions to required online resources.

Projects begin on 12/6/2017, and end on 21/7/2017

The expectation is that the student will be based in Sheffield or be available to attend regular supervision meetings in Sheffield over the 6-week period of the project.

SURE Requirements:
Completion of a written report by 25 August, and a dissemination piece (i.e. poster) by 24 November (this will be presented at the SURE showcase in February 2018)

Application procedure:
University of Sheffield students completing their second year of undergraduate study are eligible to apply. Students in History, Medicine, and Sociology are especially encouraged to apply but students from all disciplines will be considered.

Please send an expression of interest in the form of a statement of 250-400 words outlining any relevant experience and explaining what you would like to contribute to the project to both and .

Provide us with you contact details, your degree programme, and confirm that you will be available in June and July to attend supervisions in Sheffield and carry out the research. For further information, you are welcome to attend Dr Gottlieb’s office hours Tuesdays 10.30-11.30 and Thursdays 12-1 in the Jessop West Building, room 3.04.

Deadline: 5 May, 2017

Further information:
Understanding the effects of historic national or global crises on mental health, and how these effects are manifest, mediated, ameliorated and exacerbated, has great contemporary relevance. As well as contributing to the study of the history of emotion (and developing new methodologies for this), this work will inform contemporary public health planning and estimates of need for mental health services by modelling historical impacts of specific types of threat on rates of mental disorder. The research is based on an existing collaboration between the supervisors, Prof. Weich and Dr Gottlieb, an academic psychiatrist and a historian. Students will be supervised in exploring the emotional and behavioural responses to well characterised, historic social stressors, namely large-scale, sudden or catastrophic social, economic or political crises.

There are four bursary places available to work under supervision on these two linked projects within a common theoretical and empirical framework. Both studies will contribute to the development, testing and refining of theories using a framework based on validated biological human stress-response models. We propose to study two national crises: one occurring in the 20th century (the Munich Crisis of 1938) and one in the 21st century (specifically the 2008 global financial crisis or the migrant crisis since 2015). Two students will be directed to work on each theme, under supervision. The strength of this approach lies in the complimentary nature of the data underpinning the two case studies and opportunity for cross-fertilisation.

The research will comprise 5 distinct stages, plus a final stage devoted to project dissemination:

Stage 1: We will undertake preliminary theorising, in which we will adapt biological (individual) stress-response models and the key constructs of threat (acute versus chronic threat), loss and defeat to social settings in which distinct groups (e.g. women, young people, those of minority ethnicity etc.) may be discerned. We will use this stage to consider how different types of social stress (including physical threats, financial or economic loss and threats to future aspirations) and personal or group vulnerabilities are characterised within a stress-diathesis paradigm. We will use these theories to generate testable hypotheses relating to the crises to be studied.

Stage 2: We will identify the two crises to be studied (one occurring in the 20th century and one in the 21st century) and identify and characterise the groups of interest, including (where appropriate) persecuted and persecutors, aggressor and victims, victors and those defeated or subjugated. We will develop our data searching, collection, extraction and analysis strategies in stage 2.

Stage 3: We will identify the key sources to be used, including (where available) scientific publications, journals, diaries, newspapers and other media, and official statistics, and indicate how each of these will be used to characterise the nature of the threat and to evaluate effects. We will also develop data extraction forms to ensure that the data are collected systematically.

Stage 4: Will collect and analyse data on the crises under review, including data from historical sources and, where available, official statistics and person-level data (e.g. social or health surveys and coroners records to identify suicides).

Stage 5: We will review, update and augment the theories developed in stage 1, for instance to reflect the ways in which threat, loss and defeat manifest their emotional and behavioural effects, and in whom, as well as the ways in which these effects are modified by circumstances and/or personal resilience or vulnerability.

The proposed research will augment a Wellcome Trust Seed Award awarded to Dr Gottlieb which is due to begin in September 2017 (for 12 months), and on which Prof Weich is a co-investigator. The Wellcome Award on “Suicide, Society and Crisis” seeks to answers to the following questions: What is the relationship between suicide and world crises? Does the suicide rate increase during periods of acute political, economic and international crisis? How do clinicians and coroners, academics and artists, politicians and pundits, the media, and suicides themselves diagnose the causal link between mental illness, personal desperation and national crisis? Prof Weich leads the Mental Health Research Unit at ScHARR, which has a strong culture of postgraduate teaching. In addition to being an NHS Consultant Psychiatrist and teacher (of medical students, postgraduate doctors in training and postgraduate MSc and PhD research students). He has a track record of public mental health research, and has published extensively on the social, economic and spatial determinants of the most common mental disorders, anxiety and depression, at the population-level. He has particular expertise in the use of routine datasets to estimates rates of mental disorder in populations.

Vacancy: Digital Media Assistant for History Matters blog

Digital Media Officer for History Matters

This post is open to current students and employees of the University of Sheffield only.
5 hours per week, fixed term to 30th September 2017.

The admin tasks for History Matters divide into four areas: planning content, blogging, promoting and maintenance:


  • Maintaining and updating a list of pieces commissioned/promised/in progress/in hand.
  • Keeping an eye out for upcoming anniversaries, film releases, TV programmes and the like on historical themes. With editor’s input, commissioning content from colleagues/PhD students/guest contributors well in advance.
  • Identifying history-related stories in the news and approaching authors to commission content at short notice, with editor’s input.
  • Prioritising publication dates where there is more than one option, with editor’s input.


  • Copy-editing and proof-reading content; where substantial changes are needed liaising with contributor to get agreement for changes (everything, with the exception of minor typographical issues, needs to be checked by editor before publication and this process may need editor’s input depending on extent of changes)
  • Uploading content into WordPress where contributors cannot do this for themselves
  • Adding image (checking copyright clearance is okay), tags and SEO text (the blurb about each article that will appear in the Google search results etc.)
  • Where contributors are inputting directly to WordPress checking that the above has been done to appropriate standard and that credits are included where necessary.


  • Launching blog post on publication day (preferably between 8.15 and 9am)
  • Tweeting about blog from @unishefhistory
    • In morning when launched (also tweet from @usesofhistory to push up rankings)
    • At lunchtime (East Coast breakfast)
    • At 5pm (West Coast breakfast)
  • Retweeting mentions of blog from others during day from @unishefhistory
  • Tweeting directly about blog to selected twitterers who may help promote it
  • Putting on Facebook
  • Where blog ties into major news story, alerting central media and social media teams (editor would usually be involved with a story of this type)
  • Nudging author to respond to comments on blog where necessary
  • Promoting old content when it is relevant to current news stories.


  • Checking spam folder periodically and deleting unwanted messages
  • Monitoring comments coming in to WordPress and approving/checking/deleting as appropriate
  • Monitoring audience figures and identifying patterns that will be useful for promoting particular stories in future (needs editor’s input).

This post is for five hours per week (though there may be some flexibility from week to week), with an immediate start date and an end date of 30 September 2017.

This role is paid at grade 6.1 on the University of Sheffield salary scales (£13.86 per hour, plus holiday pay).

A knowledge of WordPress is desirable, and a clear ability to learn new software packages is essential. An understanding of blogging and social media is essential, and experience of personal blogging would be an advantage. The ability to work diplomatically and sensitively with contributors is essential, as is a high standard of English and the ability to proof-read and copy-edit.

How to apply
A brief statement (one side of A4 maximum) explaining your suitability for the role, along with your CV, should be sent to Caroline Pennock at by 12 noon on Wednesday 15th February 2017.   

Informal enquiries about this post should be directed towards Caroline Pennock:, 0114 222 2579.

Julie Gottlieb granted a Seed Award in Humanities and Social Science from the Wellcome Trust

Julie’s Seed Award in Humanities and Social Science will begin in late 2017 supported by The Wellcome Trust, a global charitable foundation which supports researchers in their efforts to take on big problems, and to spark debates. Julie’s project is entitled ‘Suicide, Society and Crisis’ and will focus on links between suicide and socio-political crisis.

About the project:
For over 150 years, instances and rates of suicide have been a hugely symbolic resource for making statements about society. The key goal of this project is to investigate the links between suicide and political and social crisis, at macro and micro levels. Do suicide rates increase in times of socio-political crisis, and, if so, why? How do psychiatrists, pathologists, jurists, coroners, politicians, and the public understand suicide epidemics as symptomatic of instability? These questions will be brought to bear on a case study of the suicide epidemic triggered by war fear during the Munich Crisis (1938-39), and documented in the Wellcome collections, Coroners records and Press representation. Together with key collaborators in the medical humanities and the crossdisciplinary field of suicidology, in two conferences we will test psychological, psychiatric, sociological and historical theories about how internalisation of dramatic socio-political change effects incidents, methods, and attitudes towards suicide. Our preliminary findings will be disseminated through journal articles, History & Policy, and blogs, offering historical insight into recent suicide epidemics connected to PTSD and veterans of the Iraq Wars, the increase in suicides during the 2008 Financial Crisis, mental health in refugee communities, up to the psychological fallout of Brexit.

Mary Vincent awarded a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship

Mary Vincent  has been awarded a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship to the value of £95,051.  The project is entitled ‘Religious Violence in the Spanish Civil War: Iconoclasm and Crusade’ and runs for 24 months from 1 Sept 2017 to 31 August 2019.

More about the project:

The Spanish Civil War starkly revealed the patterns of assault and retribution that define religious violence. An anticlerical revolution took place within a conflict regarded by the other side as a crusade. More priests were killed than in the French Revolution and the scale of iconoclasm is still unquantified. Churches and images—seen as a locus of divine power—came under attack; retributive violence followed this assault on God. The case of Spain shows that modern religious conflict is not specific to jihad and provides an important counterpoint to work on non-European ‘communal’ violence.


Job Opportunity: Public Engagement and Impact Officer for the Digital Panopticon project

The AHRC funded Digital Panopticon project are seeking to recruit a Public Engagement and Impact Officer. The post is part-time (55%) during the final nine months of the project, joining a team of investigators from the Universities of Sheffield, Liverpool, Oxford, Sussex and Tasmania.

The Digital Panopticon: The Global Impact of London Punishments, 1780-1925’ ( links together existing and new criminal justice, genealogical, and biometric datasets held by different organisations in the UK and Australia in order to trace the impact of punishment on convict lives. Based in the Humanities Research Institute, you will develop and implement plans to generate publicity for the project web resource and its research findings following the release of the completed website in spring 2017, and maximise the non-academic impact of the project.

The application deadline is the 15th November.
For more details and to apply click here

Eirini Karamouzi and Benjamin Ziemann win Max Batley funding for new project on protest with colleague from Politics

Dr Eirini Karamouzi (Principal Investigator) and Professor Benjamin Ziemann (Co-Investigator) – both from the Department of History – along with Dr Maria Grasso (Co-Investigator, the Department of Politics) were successful in their bid on ‘Protest as democratic practice: peace movements in southern Europe, 1975-1990’ (c. £90,000) for the Max Batley Fellowship Awards scheme.

The mobilisation against the deployment of US Pershing and Cruise Missile atomic warheads in the wake of the NATO Dual Track Solution in 1979 was a watershed moment in the recent political history of Western Europe. The anti-nuclear protests of the 1980s activated civil society, renegotiated the parameters of political participation and redefined the understanding of (international and domestic) security. The contours and implications of the 1980s anti-nuclear protests are well researched for key western European countries. Developments on the southern European periphery, however, have not yet been substantially studied. The key objective of the project is to analyse anti-nuclear and anti-militarist peace protests in selected southern European countries during the late 1970s and 1980s. The focus will be on Greece, Spain and Italy, three countries that were involved in the 1980s mobilisation cycle in different ways. Italy had been selected for the deployment of Pershing missiles and was thus a key battleground of conflicts over the Dual Track Decision. But the country had also seen a wave of left and right-wing terrorism during the 1970s and a concomitant crisis of parliamentary democracy. Spain and Greece had just returned to parliamentary democracy from military dictatorship in 1975 and 1974, respectively. They were not directly involved in the conflict over the Dual Track Decision, but experienced intensive protests against the presence of US military bases or against NATO membership more generally. Thus, all three countries were involved in conflicts over security that entailed a complex renegotiation of democratic practices in the widest sense. The project will investigate these developments through the lens of peace movement mobilisation.

Considering both national peculiarities and the shared framework of a difficult transition to a renewed democratic practice, the project will consider the following research questions: How did the protest movements of the 1980s differ from previous (Italian and Greek) peace protests of the 1960s? What mobilised the peace activists of the 1980s, and which shared perceptions and collective symbols – such as anti-Americanism, a sense of national victimhood or socialist anti-militarism – framed their protests? How did the state and key parties respond to the protests? And, ultimately: to what extent were these peace protests a crucial element of the transition to and transformation of democratic practices in southern European countries?

The project is generously funded by an award in the context of the Max Batley Peace Studies Post Doctoral Fellowships. Starting in the autumn of 2016, a fully funded postdoctoral fellow will collaborate with the project leaders in conducting empirical research with regard to Italy and Spain, preparing an international conference on the topic, and writing-up the findings of the project in articles for peer-reviewed journals. The fellow will receive substantial interdisciplinary research training by the three project leaders/investigators.

The project will be employing a Post-Doctoral Associate for two years. For further information, please contact Dr Eirini Karamouzi.

Read more on the Peace Centre here.

Call for applications: British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowships

The Department of History would like to invite applications to hold a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship in the department.

Applicants are asked to seek out an academic member of staff in the department to act as their mentor as the first step. Please refer to staff webpages for information on staff research interests.

Applicants are then required to submit the following by Friday 09 September, to Gwyn Jones ( ):

  1. A completed agreement of mentorship form (please email Gwyn for the form)
  2. A recent CV.
  3. A .pdf of the completed British Academy application form, (which will be accessible on the British Academy website from 24 August onwards).

If you have any questions,  please contact Gwyn Jones ( for information on the application process, or Dr Julia Hillner ( for academic queries.