Dr Emma Sutton

Wellcome Trust Medical Humanities Research Fellow

After completing my undergraduate studies in Physics and HPS at the University of Cambridge, I spent ten years as a BBC film-maker. I subsequently won Wellcome Trust funding for an MA and PhD in the history of medicine at UCL. I currently work at the Centre for the History of the Emotions, as a post-doctoral researcher and Public Engagement Co-ordinator


My central research interest is the history and philosophy of concepts of health. My PhD thesis examined this topic from a biographical perspective, looking at the American philosopher and psychologist William James's explorations of different understandings of health and their social, philosophical and religious contexts: ‘Re-writing the laws of health: William James on the politics and philosophy of disease in nineteenth-century America.’

My post-doctoral research extends my focus further into the twentieth century and explores the links between child-rearing ideas and practices and concepts of psychological health.

  • The American philospher and psychologist William James (1842-1910)
  • Stoicism and the Victorians
  • The mind-cure movement
  • Late nineteenth and twentieth-century child-rearing ideas and practices
  • Twentieth-century concepts of psychological health


Journal Articles


Book reviews


In 2008 I was awarded the 'Friends of the Wellcome Trust Centre and Library Prize' for the most outstanding MA dissertation in my year.

During my doctoral studies I was awarded the ‘2010 Young Scholar Award’ by the International Society for the History of Behavioral and Social Sciences.


Media Appearances

I have extensive public engagement experience as a film-maker and a media consultant.

I have produced and directed several programmes for BBC2's flagship Horizon science series; presenter-led formats including What the Tudors did for us; and observational medical documentaries, such as Trauma for BBC1 and the Grierson-nominated Who should get the liver?, which examined the ethics of liver transplantation operations in the NHS.

I am currently working as a factual content producer on a Wellcome-funded Society Award, entitled Surgeon X, helping to develop and shape both the scientific and medical humanities aspects of a graphic novel set in a near-future world.