Writer, historian and consultant. Specialities include health, gender, emotions and the body, in history and in the present. I also provide bespoke consultancy services in research, strategy and impact. Click the boxes below to find out more.
Much of my research focuses on the changing meanings of the body in history - and the political functions that those meanings serve. The emergence of scientific medicine in the 19th century did much to create hierarchies of race and gender that remain with us, and are embedded in the language we use everyday.
This Mortal Coil: The Human Body in History and Culture explores the meanings of the body and its parts from the classical period to the present day: from the bones to the guts, from the heart to the genitals, it shows that every part of our bodies has a history, and that history informs the present. You can buy This Mortal Coilhere.
‘Engrossing and provocative’, (Erin Sullivan, The Lancet)
'Fay Bound Alberti proves again that she is an exquisite storyteller and compelling historian', (Joanna Bourke, author of The Story of Pain)
'Impressively tackles the enigmatic conceptions of the human body through the ages... Recommended', Choice.
In everyday parlance, the heart is a pump, the brain our emotions centre. So why do we put so much emotional and spiritual investment in our hearts and why are emotions 'heartfelt'?
My work into the history of emotions and the body shows that prioritising the brain as the centre of emotions is relatively recent. Heart transplants, Valentine's cards and the language of love are all reminders that the heart is far more than a pump. Find out more by listening to my Radio 4 interview on the subject, recorded in Westminster Abbey.
Matters of the Heart offers a new and exciting perspective on the heart as an organ of the body, the soul and culture. You can buy a copy here.
Detailed case studies are seamlessly interwoven with thoughtful and thought-provoking analysis. (Zaheer Baber, Times Literary Supplement)
This is a splendid book, neatly conceived, well written, and beautifully produced. (Mark Jackson, Social History of Medicine)
Highly readable (Miri Rubin, History Today)
Refreshingly novel (Bill Bynum, The Lancet)
In the 21st century we are all apparently lonelier than ever, despite the connectedness promised by the digital revolution. Loneliness is seen as a modern epidemic, one which risks our physical and mental health. In my forthcoming book on loneliness, to be published by Oxford University Press, I offer a radically new interpretation of loneliness and its meanings in history and the present. Why not check out my recent Aeon article on the subject?
Share your story
If you have a tale to tell about loneliness, please get in touch through the About Me page.
In the age of the selfie, looks are everything. Which is one of the reasons why self-esteem is at an all-time low - not only for women and young girls but also increasingly for men. I work on appearance and identity, the significance and history of the human face and the aesthetics of beauty and disfigurement. I have written articles on the history and ethics of cosmetic surgery, managed the Wellcome Trust's Medical Humanities Ethics panel and advised the Nuffield Council on Bioethics.
I am frequently interviewed for national and international radio and TV, focusing on the history of health, medicine, emotion, the body and gender. Examples include The Pulse (WHYY Radio, Philadelphia), Talking Books, (Newstalk, Dublin); The Body Sphere(ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation); World at One (BBC Radio 4), What Makes us Human (BBC4); The Eureka Years (BBC Radio 4), In Our Time (BBC Radio 4) and The Trouble with Love (Open University/BBC2).
You can hear me talking about This Mortal Coil: The Human Body in History and Culture on 'Free Thinking' (BBC Radio 3) here and exploring the historical meanings of the heart on Radio 4 here.
Can't see the wood for the trees? Or maybe the impact agenda raises too many questions. You're not alone.
I specialise in interdisciplinary collaboration, with extensive senior management experience in strategy, grant making, evaluation and impact.
I have managed funding budgets in excess of £25 million, spearheaded work on Open Access and digitisation, identified and directed international collaborations and designed evaluation programmes. My clients include the University of Glasgow, King's College London and the Flamingo group. You can find a summary CV here.
Get in touch via email@example.com to discuss your consultancy needs.
I have given academic keynotes around the world - most recently at the Center for Advanced Studies in Munich, the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin and the European Philosophical Society for the Study of Emotions in Madrid.
I also give public lectures on the histories of medicine and the body - to schools and museums, such as the Science Museum London Lates series, at at literary events like Ways with Words and the Hay Festival (pictured here at the Hay with Rosie Goldsmith in 2016).
You can download a podcast of my Hay talk here. You can also watch me talk for 3 minutes about the development of the History of Emotions for the Hay Levels here.
If you would like me to speak at an event, please get in touch through the About Me page.
I have published in many academic journals including Dialogues of Cardiovascular Medicine; History Workshop Journal; Literature and History;IsisJournal of the History of Science Society; Medical History and theLancet. I also review manuscripts and articles for publishers (including Chicago, Yale, Oxford University Press and Palgrave Macmillan) and funders, including Wellcome Trust, the European Funding Council and the Arts and Humanities Research Council.
You can read one of my articles - on the history and future of face transplants for BMJ Medical Humanities (2016) here.
"Even today, a study of dictionary definitions of “vagina” reveals that the organ is seldom described in relation to sex (unlike the penis), but overwhelmingly in terms of its physical location. Similarly, while “penis” is almost always described as an organ, the vagina is not; it is pictured as a “canal” or a “passage” that by implication leads somewhere else. Moreover the clitoris is often missing from those dictionaries; where it has been included that is principally in relation to the penis."