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Sarah Phelan

 Sarah Phelan

PhD candidate



I received a BA in English and Philosophy in 2008 and an MA in English in Modernities in 2009 from University College Cork, Ireland. I completed an MSc in the History and Theory of Psychology in 2012 at the University of Edinburgh. I am currently undertaking a PhD in Medical Humanities at the University of Glasgow which is funded by a Lord Kelvin/Adam Smith PhD scholarship, and supervised by Dr Gavin Miller (English Literature) and Prof Chris Philo (Geographical and Earth Sciences).

Research and Teaching Interests

My PhD project is entitled “‘Lonely lost people living in the waste-land’: T. Ferguson Rodger, ‘social psychiatry’, ‘mad dreaming’ and ‘rethinking mental health’”. This PhD will explore the contribution to psychiatry of Thomas Ferguson Rodger (1907–1978), first Professor of Psychological Medicine at the University of Glasgow (1948–1973) and consultant psychiatrist at several Glasgow hospitals. Rodger is a somewhat neglected figure in the history of Scottish psychiatry, yet his career spanned –and in some measure also shaped- an important period of transformation as older “asylum-based” psychiatry was challenged by emergent general hospital- and community-based psychiatry. Rodger’s personal archive, including lecture notes, case notes, correspondence and miscellaneous items, has recently been acquired by the University of Glasgow Archives. This PhD will comprise a forensic reading/interpretation of this archive, alongside oral histories with individuals who remember him and his immediate legacy in/beyond the University. Adopting perspectives drawn from the history/geography of psychiatry and medical humanities, the ambition will be to reconstruct Rodger’s life, ideas and practices, set within the changing ‘spaces’ of mid-twentieth century psychiatric medicine.





  • College of Arts, School of Critical Studies