Joy Hawkins

Joy Hawkins


  • 3.14 Registry And Council House

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Personal profile

Administrative Posts

Joy is currently the Admissions Director for the Interdisciplinary Institute for the Humanities, including all the Humanities Foundation Year programmes.

Academic Background

Before joining the Interdisciplinary Institute for the Humanities in 2015, Joy was a Tutor in the School of History, teaching medical and social history from the time of Galen until the eve of the First World War.

Joy Hawkins is a medical historian by training. Her PhD thesis focused on the medical, social and religious responses to blindness and eye complaints in later medieval England.

External Activities

Joy frequently gives talks on different aspects of medical history to local interest groups and meetings of the University of the Third Age (U3A) in Norfolk and north Suffolk, on topics as diverse as the Black Death, medieval gardens, the history of contraception, medieval bodily fluids and the development of hospital care. 

Joy is regularly part of the annual national Heritage Open Days, speaking to Norwich audiences on medieval women as healers, running workshops on how local archives can help us to uncover stories about ordinary people's lives, and collaborating with the Rare Books Library at the John Innes Centre to uncover the importance of plants in the past.

Key Research Interests

Joy's PhD thesis focused on the causes of blindness in later medieval England, closely examining how ordinary people dealt with eye complaints on a daily basis and how theologians viewed those with poor eyesight. She has published on the interconnection between medicine, religion and gender during the Middle Ages.  

Her current main research interests are centred around the body, health and diseases in the past, particularly during the late Middle Ages. She also explores the changing understandings of ailments, injuries and bodily fluids over time, considering how patients' and practitioners' experiences have been recorded throughout history.