skip to primary navigationskip to content

Boyd Brogan

Wellcome Trust Research Fellow

Junior Research Fellow, Wolfson College

I research the history of medicine from an interdisciplinary perspective fuelled by my background in literary scholarship. I completed a D.Phil. on pastoral romance and the history of  the emotions in 2012 at Oxford, and held teaching posts there in early modern literature, before joining the Department of History and Philosophy of Science in 2014.

My project investigates a group of early modern diseases that were believed to be caused by sexual abstinence. These illnesses were of many kinds, from epilepsy to the condition known as ‘suffocation of the womb’, but they shared an etiology based on distinctive premodern theories of reproduction and sexual difference. Focussing on previously unexplored patient records, as well as Latin and vernacular medical treatises and literary accounts, I am researching the effects of these illnesses across a range of areas of society and culture in this period, including marriage conduct, religious polemic and demonic possession. By doing so, I aim to provide new perspectives on the historical relationship between illness, sexuality and gender.

I am affiliated to three Cambridge research groups: The Casebooks Project, Generation to Reproduction and Crossroads of Knowledge. I also organise the Latin Therapy and Early Science and Medicine WIP reading groups in the department. In 2015 I held a William Ringler visiting fellowship at the Huntington Library, California.

Research interests

Gender and sexuality; possession and witchcraft; history of diseases; medical casebooks; history of the emotions; early modern literature (drama, pastoral, satire)


I supervise undergraduates for medieval and early modern medicine, and early modern literature. In 2014 I received the teaching qualification Fellow of the UK Higher Education Academy (FHEA).


'His Belly, Her Seed: Medicine and Gender in Early Modern Exorcism', Representations, forthcoming

'“Some Other Kind of Lore”: Satire and Self-Governance in Spenserian Poetry', Studies in Philology 114 (2017), 67-96

'The Masque and the Matrix: Alice Egerton, Richard Napier and Suffocation of the Mother', Milton Studies 55 (2014), 3–52

‘Review of Scurvy: the Disease of Discovery, by Jonathan Lamb’, European History Quarterly 48 (2018), 164-65

‘Review of Two Early Modern Marriage Sermons, ed. Robert Matz’, Renaissance Studies 31 (2017), 831-33

'Meet the Patients: the Egertons', The Casebooks Project

'Sex, Disease and Fertility in History', Notches: (Re)Marks on the History of Sexuality

Boyd Brogan

Browse and search Simon Forman's and Richard Napier's records of thousands of consultations.