Postdoctoral Research Assistant, History of Medicine, Department of Philosophy

The Life of Breath project is a 5-year Wellcome Trust funded project, headed by Prof Jane Macnaughton (Durham) and Prof Havi Carel (Bristol). Life of Breath examines breathing and breathlessness, suggesting that these can only be understood fully by drawing not only on physiological and pathological information, but also on cultural, historical and phenomenological sources. The key goal of the project is to use medical humanities to inform interventions in diseases in which breathlessness is a symptom. For more information on the project see: (see also the appendix of the job description, via this link).

The successful applicant for this postdoctoral position will pursue a three-year project of research within the medical history research strand of the project. This strand will examine the recent history of COPD. Because COPD’s defining symptom is breathlessness, it provides an important and prevalent standard to focus clinical attention. Historical texts pertaining to breathing problems, including bronchitis and emphysema, texts documenting advances in pathology and medical diagnostic tools, and more recent clinical guidelines for COPD, will be analysed in this postdoctoral research project. Mapping the historical trajectory of the medical understanding of COPD and breathlessness will illuminate, and be illuminated by, literary and cultural history, philosophy, medical anthropology, and medical humanities, which form the other strands of the project (for further information see the appendix of the job description, via the link below, as well as the project website).

The successful applicant will be expected to work independently at a postdoctoral level, and to publish and present work in academic and non-academic contexts. They will be mentored by a multidisciplinary team, consisting of Prof Tim Cole (Bristol, history), Prof Gareth Williams (Bristol, medicine and medical history), and Prof Havi Carel (Bristol, phenomenology of breathlessness and project PI).

Applicants should have, or be very near completion of, a PhD in medical history, and should have research experience in the field. For person specification and further details about the post please access the job description via the link below. Please read the job description carefully before submitting your application.

The start date for this post is 1st March 2015 (or as soon as possible thereafter).

Please supply: 1. An academic CV (including a publication list), 2. A writing sample of up to 8,000 words, 3. The names and contact details of two academic referees, 4. A 2,000-3,000 personal statement

In your personal statement explain how you would approach the research project described above (for further details on the project see the appendix to the job description) and how you would make a valuable contribution to the Life of Breath project more broadly.

Informal enquiries may be addressed to Prof Havi Carel in the Department of Philosophy by telephone at +44 (0)117 954 6690 or by email at

Please note that the University will be closed for Christmas from 24th December to 4th January so you may not get a response to your email until 5th January. It is anticipated that interviews will be held on 20th February 2015.


Job Number: ACAD101191

Division/School: School of Arts

Working pattern: Full time, fixed term contract

Salary: £31,342 – 35,256


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