Eli O. Anders, PhD

Visiting Assistant Professor of Writing and Writing Fellow, Haverford College

Research interests:

My current book project, tentatively titled Between Hospital and Home: Convalescent Care from Nightingale to the National Health Service, examines the social and cultural history of convalescent institutions in nineteenth- and twentieth-century England and the evolution of convalescence as a philanthropic and medical concern during this period. I examine how philanthropic ideologies, geographic imaginaries, spatial arrangements, therapeutic practices, and material cultures shaped the meanings and experiences of convalescence–a category of care which was attractive to philanthropists and medical reformers because it offered the promise of reconciliation between economic progress and social dislocation, industrialization and individual health, and urban disruption and family stability. By adopting the architectural rhetoric, spatial arrangements, and decorative practices of middle-class and genteel houses, convalescent homes sought not only to create environments conducive to their patients’ recovery, but also to inculcate the habits of domesticity and the values of liberal citizenship. At the same time, convalescent homes functioned as technologies of place that harnessed the therapeutic benefits of rural and seaside climates for the treatment of urban hospital patients. This research sheds new light on the evolution of the modern hospital, the role of therapeutic landscapes and spaces, and medico-philanthropic responses to the problems of urban health and housing. 

More broadly, my research and teaching interests encompass the history of British and American medicine and public health in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, particularly the history of urban public health; the intersections between health, housing, environment, and poverty; and the relationships between therapeutics, epistemology, and professional identity.