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Jessica Balls


  • HIS

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Personal profile

Key Research Interests and Expertise


Provisional thesis title: Spirits, Smog and Swine: A Pollution of the Senses in London, 1770-1820


My current research is on the sensory history of eighteenth-century London. Within this broad topic, I am focusing on how occupational pollutions, intoxicants and filth impaired the senses with a particular interest in the deterioration of sight, thus considering the role blindness played in employment patterns. This will enable the consideration of how the senses shaped aspects of everyday life, whilst also analysing urban space and the impact of the environment. This will also add to the historiography on popular perception and everyday experience, for the deterioration of the senses caused by trades, spirits, and environmental factors would have impacted the way people connected with society and shaped their identities. Other past research areas have included eighteenth-century studies of male-midwifery, suicide, and satirical representations of lesbian desire. Although I am predominantly absorbed in eighteenth-century social and cultural history, I have also delved into seventeenth-century bigamy cases.