Ill patients dancing at a ball at Somerset County Asylum

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Psychiatry and the Arts in Nineteenth-Century Britain (PAN) Network

The role and place of the Arts in mental health and wellbeing forms an important part of modern practice and exploration, but also has an important history of its own. This AHRC-funded network is designed to bring together scholars working on a wide variety of interrelated, cross-disciplinary projects in order to consolidate and develop historical understanding, as well as forging new connections with professionals in health and wellbeing practice, heritage and history, and the creative sector.

PAN is led by Dr Rosemary Golding (The Open University, PI) and Professor Susan Hogan (The University of Derby, Co-I). It draws on the expertise of heritage partners The Crichton Trust, Dumfries, and Bethlem Museum of the Mind, Beckenham, as well as the work of both early-career and established academics and creative practitioners. The network’s activities will run between April 2023 and September 2024, and will include seminars exploring areas of historical enquiry, opportunities to develop links between historians and health professionals, and a two-day conference seeking to forge new directions in research and collaboration.

These aims are captured in the Network’s research questions:

  1. What was the relationship between the arts and psychiatry in nineteenth-century Britain, in the contexts of psychiatric institutions, published writings, and other media?
  2. How do we understand this relationship and its associated practices within the broader context of health and social history, and the history of the arts?
  3. How do we make use of this research to inform and inspire modern practice, across a wide range of both arts and health services?
  4. What future research directions serve both to build on these historical foundations, and to make use of opportunities for impact and engagement?

PAN is funded by The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)

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