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Sarah Bull

Wellcome Research Fellow in Medical Humanities

I joined the Department of History and Philosophy of Science in 2015, after completing my PhD in English, with a focus on nineteenth century British print culture, at Simon Fraser University (Canada). My current research project, 'Medical Publishers, Obscenity Law, and the Business of Sexual Knowledge in Victorian Britain', is funded by the Wellcome Trust and examines the medical publishing business. While charting the changing structures of medical publishing in Victorian Britain, I am investigating how different kinds of publishers selected, edited, marketed, and distributed writing on sexual health to readers during a period that witnessed rising anxiety about the social effects of sexually explicit writing.

I am a member of the Cambridge Centre for Material Texts.

Research interests

Social history of modern medicine; print culture and the history of the book; history of sexuality; machine reading and archiving


Bull, Sarah. 'Managing the "Obscene M.D.": Medical Publishing, the Medical Profession, and the Changing Definition of Obscenity in Mid-Victorian England.' Bulletin of the History of Medicine 91.4 (Winter 2017): 713-743. DOI: 10.1353/bhm.2017.0079

Bull, Sarah. 'Reading, Writing, and Publishing an Obscene Canon: The Archival Logic of the Secret Museum, c. 1860 — c. 1900.' Book History 20 (2017): 226-257. DOI: 10.1353/bh.2017.0007

Colligan, Colette, Michael Joyce, Sarah Bull, & Cecile Loyen. 'Humanities Research Software Design: The Wilde Trials Web App.' Scholarly Research and Communication 7.2 (2016): 0201256, 15pp.

Bull, Sarah. 'Digital Archives and the History of Pornography', Porn Studies 1.4 (Winter 2014): 402–405. DOI: 10.1080/23268743.2014.947753

Bull, Sarah. 'A Purveyor of Garbage? Charles Carrington and the Marketing of Sexual Science in Late-Victorian Britain', Victorian Review 38.1 (Spring 2012): 55–76. DOI: 10.1353/ vcr.2012. 0028. Awarded the Victorian Review Editors' Prize for the best essay published by the journal in the year 2012.

Reference Articles

Bull, Sarah. '1001 Nights/Arabian Nights.' Global Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer History, ed. H. Chiang, A. Arondekar, M. Epprecht, J. Evans, R. Forman, H. al-Samman, E. Skidmore & Z. Tortorici. New York: Macmillan Reference USA. In Press.


Rev. of Fragile Minds and Vulnerable Souls: The Matter of Obscenity in Nineteenth-Century Germany by Sarah L. Leonard (Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania P, 2015). SHARP NEWS. Published 23/08/16.

Rev. of The Pleasure's All Mine: A History of Perverse Sex by Julie Peakman (London: Reaktion, 2014)Journal of Social History 49.1 (Fall 2015): 254–256

Public engagement

Editor and contributor for The Floating Academy: A Victorian Studies Blog.

Workshop on “Aristotle’s Masterpiece and Other Objects from which the Victorians Learned About Sex” at King’s College, Cambridge, for Sex in Six Objects: A Series of Workshops for Young People Investigating the History of Sexuality in Six Objects. April 16, 2016

Advisor for Hard Core: A Century and a Half of Obscene Imagery, exhibition at the Museum of Sex, New York, NY, USA, 25 June — 31 December 2015


I supervise Part II, Part III, and MPhil essays and dissertations on the history of medicine from 1800, and teach HPS's postgraduate seminar on science in print in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.