Dr James F. Stark

Dr James F. Stark

Research Fellow

+44 (0)113 343 2021

Summary: History of Modern Medicine, Philosophy of Medicine and Disease Identities, History of Medical Technologies

Location: Leeds Humanities Research Institute


James F. Stark is an Arts Engaged Fellow with particular expertise in the field of museums and galleries. For more on his work in this capacity, please click here. He has worked extensively with the Thackray Medical Museum, and his research on the Overbeck Rejuvenator was the subject of a major feature in New Scientist.

His main area of research is in the history of medicine since 1850. He completed undergraduate study at Cambridge University and postgraduate work at the Universities of Manchester and Leeds. His doctoral thesis, supported by an AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award, focused on the appearance and social role of anthrax in Bradford during period from 1878 to 1919. He has published on factory regulation in Victorian Britain, the visual culture of external anthrax, and the global history of disease identities. One of the major themes of his work is the relationship between bacteriology, sanitation and public health, although he is also interested in examining the importance of "place" for scientific, medical and technological endeavour.

His current research focuses on the role of patenting, ownership, and the marketplace in early twentieth-century medicine and healthcare, the history of phototherapy technologies, the practice of chemical disinfection in British homes in the age of germ theories, and the urban-rural relationship surrounding the supply of fresh water to Leeds in the nineteenth century.

He is Chair of the Outreach and Education Committee of the British Society for the History of Science, as well as the Society's Honorary Archivist. He has spent time at the University of Hong Kong (November 2013) and will be Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Sydney for a month in April 2014. 

Previous post-doctoral research included an AHRC-funded Knowledge Transfer Fellowship, applying recent research on patenting in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries to medical technologies in conjunction with Professor Graeme Gooday and the Thackray Medical Museum. This involved carrying out audience consultation events, writing public-facing object biographies, and running training sessions for museum staff, as well as carrying out research into objects in the collections, particularly the Marconi Otophone, Hanovia-Kromayer UV Lamp, and Overbeck Rejuvenator.

Research Interests

- History of modern medicine since 1850, especially infectious disease and public health

- Philosophy of medicine and disease identities

- History of medical technologies and patenting

- Visual culture and representations in the history of medicine

Selected Publications


(2013) The Making of Modern Anthrax, 1875-1920: Uniting Local, National and Global Histories of Disease (London: Pickering & Chatto)

Journal Articles and Book Chapters

(in press) "Medical Science and the Cruelty to Animals Act 1876: A Re-examination of Anti-vivisectionism in Provincial Britain", Studies in History & Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Science

(in press) "'Recharge my Exhausted Batteries: Overbeck's Rejuvenator, Electrotherapy, and Public Medical Consumers, 1924-1937", Medical History

(in press) "Patents and the Public: Engaging Museum Audiences with Issues of Ownership and Invention", Museum and Society

(2013) "'Classic, Characteristic or Typical': The Skin and the Visual Properties of External Anthrax Lesions', in Reinarz, J. & Siena, K. (eds.), A Medical History of Skin: Scratching in the Surface (London: Pickering & Chatto)

(2012) "Anthrax and Australia in a Global Context: the International Exchange of Theories and Practices with Britain and France", Health and History, 14:2, pp. 1-25

(2012) "Bacteriology in the Service of Sanitation: The Factory Environment and the Regulation of Industrial Anthrax in Victorian Britain" Social History of Medicine, 25:2, pp. 343-61

(2011) "A Poster of Pustules: Representations of Early Twentieth-Century Industrial Anthrax in Britain' Endeavour, 35:1, pp. 22-30

Book Reviews and Other

(forthcoming) "Review: Chakrabarti, Pratik, Bacteriology in British India: Laboratory Medicine and the Tropics"British Journal for the History of Science

(forthcoming) "Review: Allen-Emerson, Michelle (ed.), Sanitary Reform in Victorian Britain, Part II, 3 vols" Social History of Medicine

(2013) "Review: Neil, Deborah, Networks in Tropical Medicine: Internationalism, Colonialism, and the Rise of a Medical Specialty, 1890-1930" Canadian Bulletin of Medical History, 30:2 pp. 233-4

(2013) "Not By Germs Alone" [Essay Review: Gradmann, Christoph, Laboratory Disease: Robert Koch's Medical Bacteriology] Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, 44:3, pp. 435-8

(2013) "Review: Allen-Emerson, Michelle (ed.), Sanitary Reform in Victorian Britain, Part I, 3 vols" Social History of Medicine, 26:2, pp. 314-16

(2012) "Review: Brown, Michael, Performing Medicine: Medical Culture and Identity in Provincial England, c.1760-1850" British Journal for the History of Science, 45:3, pp. 463-464

(2012) "Review: Johnson, Ryan and Khalid, Amna (eds.), Public Health in the British Empire: Intermediaries, Subordinates, and the Practice of Public Health, 1850-1960" H-Empire, H-Net Reviews, May 2012 (available here)

(2012) "Medical Classics: O. Overbeck, 'A New Electronic Theory of Life' (1925)" British Medical Journal, 17 March, p. 34

(2011) "Review: Jones, Susan D., Death in a Small Package: A Short History of Anthrax" British Journal for the History of Science, 44:4, pp. 615-17

(2011) "Medical Classics: T. Mullett Ellis, 'Zalma' (1895)" British Medical Journal, 4 September, p. 509

(2007) "Fighting the Good Fight? The Scientific Community's Response to Anti-Evolutionism" Kaleidoscope 1:1