Manon Williams is a PhD student in the School of History at the University of St Andrews. Her research is funded by a Wolfson Postgraduate Scholarship in the Humanities.
Surgeons at Sea: Negotiating the Boundaries of Medical Practice in the British Royal Navy, 1793-1815
Manon’s research uses surgeons’ medical logs to explore professional and institutional developments in medical practice in the British Royal Navy during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars (1793-1815). Applying a social lens to these medical records, she examines how surgeons operated as naval officers, medical practitioners, scientists, and administrators during a period of reform to the naval medical offices. In particular, she is concerned with how naval surgeons challenged or subverted norms of medical practice or mandated jurisdiction in order to carve out their own roles in the liminal and transitory space of the ship. Her project explores how the surgeons' middling role within this medical bureaucracy shaped their professional and scientific identity, and how they constructed and communicated medical knowledge within the naval medical offices. Her work is in conversation with scholarship on the professionalization and bureaucratization of military medicine and the influences of these processes on modern, clinical medicine.