Dr Beatriz Pichel

Job: Associate Professor in Photographic History

Faculty: Arts, Design and Humanities

School/department: School of Humanities

Research group(s): Photographic History Research Centre

Address: De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester, LE1 9BH

T: +44 (0)116 2506427

E: beatriz.pichel@dmu.ac.uk

W: https://www.dmu.ac.uk/phrc


Personal profile

Beatriz is specialist in photographic history, history of medicine and medical humanities, history of emotions and the cultural history of war. After finishing her degree in Philosophy at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM), she specialised in the history of sciences. Her PhD, awarded in 2012 (UAM), examined how photographic practices in First World War France shaped ideas and experiences of death at war. During her doctoral years, Beatriz developed great interest in photographic history, the history of the body and the history of emotions, and was fascinated by medical photography. In 2014, she joined the PHRC as a Wellcome Trust Research Fellow. Her postdoctoral project focused on photography and emotions in psychology and theatre at the turn of the nineteenth century in France. She has published on this topic in History of the Human Sciences (2015), Fotogeschichte (2016) and Media History (2018), and the collective volume on Emotional Bodies. The Historical Performativity of Emotions, co-edited with Dr Dolores Martin-Moruno and published with University of Illinois Press in 2019. Her first monograph, Picturing the Western Front. Photography, Practices and Experiences in First World War France (Manchester University Press, 2021) examines how photographic practices articulated war experiences. Beatriz is working on a new project, Photography and the Making of the Medical Sciences in France, 1860-1914, which has been awarded a British Academy Small Research Grant, and will be published as a monograph with Palgrave.

Beatriz supervises doctoral students working on photographic history, women's history, archives and collections, war history and more. She welcomes applications from prospective PhD students interested in the areas of photographic history, medical history, gender history and the history of emotions.

Research group affiliations

Key research outputs

  • 2021: Beatriz Pichel, Picturing the Western Front. Photography, Practices and Experiences in First World War France (Manchester: Manchester University Press)
  • 2019: Dolores Martin-Moruno and Beatriz Pichel (eds), Emotional Bodies. Studies on the Performativity of Emotions (Urbana: University of Illinois Press)

  • 2018: Reading Photography in French Nineteenth-Century Periodicals”, Media History, Special Issue “Working with Nineteenth-Century Medical and Health Periodicals” (online first), OA
  • 2016: “Les Gueules Cassées: Photography and the Making of Disfigurement”, Journal of War and Culture Studies Special Issue “Assessing the Legacy of the Gueules Cassées: From surgery to art”. Published online first.

  • 2016: “The Psychology of the Smile in Georges Dumas: A Photographic Study”, in Fotogeschichte. Summer, 140: 36, 13-24.
  • 2015: “From Facial Expressions to Bodily Gestures: Photography, Passions and Movement in Nineteenth-Century Sciences in France”, History of the Human Sciences, online first 27 December, vol 29 (1), 2016, pp. 27-48. OA. http://hhs.sagepub.com/content/early/2015/12/24/0952695115618592.full.pdf?ijkey=C9mKzGQyQGIxqMa&keytype=finite

Research interests/expertise

-        Photographic History / History of Photography

-        Medical Humanities

-        History of Medicine

-        Cultural History

-        History of Emotions

-        History of the Body

-        Gender and Women’s History

-        History of War

-        Visual Science and Technology Studies

Areas of teaching

  •  Photography History
  •  History
  • History of Science and Medicine
  • Gender History


  • PhD in History and Philosophy of Sciences, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain (2012)
  • M.A. in Sciences and Culture Studies, UAM, Spain (2008)
  • B.A. in Philosophy, UAM, Spain (2006)

Courses taught

I currently teach three undergraduate modules:

-        HIST2011 Visualising the Modern World

-        HIST3026 Photography and Conflict

-        HIST2022 From Newton to Nuclear: An Introduction to the History of Science

 I also lead the module MA History and MA English module "Conference Organisation and Presentation"

I collaborate teaching in other undergraduate modules in History, and postgraduate modules in the MA Photographic History


Honours and awards


Membership of professional associations and societies


Society for the Social History of Medicine


Photography and the Making of Modern Medicine in France (1870-1914)

British Academy/ Leverhulme Small Research Grant

January 2019- December 2020

This project will explore the emergence and development of medical photography in France between 1860 and 1914. The main outcome of this project will be a monograph, which will retell important episodes of the history of medicine such as the birth of experimental psychology and the development of specialised medical journals from a photographic point of view. By examining images as well as photographic materials and discourses, the book will argue that photographic practices contributed to the making of medical knowledge, the shaping of medical specialisms and the communication of scientific ideas. Unique in its scope and approach, this project aims to demonstrate the fundamental role that photography played in the shaping of the medical field in France and to provide a model of analysis of photographic sources that is useful for medical and cultural historians as well as photographic historians.


Forthcoming events


Conference attendance

“Engaging the senses in medical photography”, European Society for the History of Science, University of Bologna, Italy, 1-3 September 2020

“Photography and The Many Ways to Look at Patients”, European Association for the History of Medicine and Health, ‘Sense and Nonsense’ Conference, University of Birmingham, 28-30 August 2019

“Visualising Emotions and the Emotional Economy of Science”, History of Science Society Annual Conference, University of Utrecht, The Netherlands, 24-27 July 2019

“The Business of Medical Photography”, PHRC Annual Conference ‘The Business of Photography’, De Montfort University, 17-18 June 2019

“Photography, History, Experience”, History of Experience: Theories, Concepts, Methods. Academy of Finland Centre for Excellence in the History of Experience HEX, University of Tampere, Finland, 4-6 March 2019

“Normalising the MedicalPortrait. Photographic Protocols in French Institutions Around 1900”. Society for the Social History of Medicine, Conference, 11-13 July 2018, University of Liverpool, UK

“Photographic Protocols in French Medical Institutions Around 1900”, Medicine in Focus. 10 May 2018, University of Leeds, UK

“Doctors and Patients at the Photographic Studio”, European Social Science History Conference, 4-6 April 2018, Belfast, Ireland

“The Multiple Meanings of Medical Photography: A French Case Study”. French Studies and the Medical Humanities, 10-11 November 2017, ILMR, UK

“The Multiple Meanings of Medical Photography”, British Society for the History of Medicine, 13-15 September 2017, Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh, UK

“Photography, Physiology and Emotions at the Collège de France and beyond”, Reading Bodies, Writing Minds, 13th April 2017, University of Nottingham, UK

“Medicine in the Photographic Studio”, Society for Social History of Medicine Conference “Medicine in its place”, 7th -10th July 2016, University of Kent, Canterbury, UK.“Photographing Emotions in the Nineteenth Century”, Social History Society Conference, 21st -23rd March 2016, Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK.

“Reading Photography in French Nineteenth Century Periodicals”, Workshop “Working with Nineteenth-Century Medical and Health Periodicals”, 30th May 2015, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.

“Photographing the Emotional Body in the Nineteenth Century”, Colloquium “The History of the Body: Approaches and Directions”, 16th May 2015, Institute of Historical Research, London, UK.

“Portraying the Gueules Cassées: Photography and the Making of Disfigurement”, 1914FACES2014 Conference “Les gueules cassées: disfigurement and its legacies”, 12th 14th March 2015, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK.

“Between Science and Art. Chronophotographs and Drawings as Research Tools in Physiology (1895-1906)”, Hybrid Photography, 18th-21st February 2015, Freie Universität, Berlin.


Current research students

I currently supervise students working on the history of women institutional photographers in the nineneeth century, visual education in Imperial Britain and the historical photographic archive of the Victoria & Albert Museum.

I welcome research students interested in interdisciplinary projects on photographic history, the history of medicine, the history of emotions, women’s history and gender studies, cultural history, medical humanities and visual STS, as well as related disciplines.

Externally funded research grants information

British Academy/Leverhulme Small Research Grant, Ref: SRG18R1\181193. Awarded for the project: “Photography and the Making of Modern Medicine in France (1860-1914)January 2019- December 2020.

Wellcome Trust Research Fellowship in Medical Humanities, Ref: 103101/Z/13/Z. Awarded for the project: “The Emotional Body: Medical and Theatrical Practices at the Turn of the Nineteenth Century in France”. Photographic History Research Centre, De Montfort University. February 2014- January 2016, non-costed extension until 31st of August 2016.

Wellcome Trust Small Grant: organization of the conference “Emotional Bodies”, Geneva, 20-22 October 2014

Internally funded research project information

Research Investment Fund (RIF 9), De Montfort University. Workshop “Visualising Reproduction in Medical, Social and Historical Contexts: An Interdisciplinary Inquiry”. July 2017 – July 2018.

Professional esteem indicators

Reviewer for History of the Human Sciences, Social History of Medicine, History of Photography, Journal of Humanitarian Action, etc.

Case studies

In relation to my article published in History of the Human Sciences (2015), I was interviewed in their new website http://www.histhum.com/?p=91

The recording of the presentation of my book Picturing the Western Front at the Royal Photographic Society is available here: https://youtu.be/4DQsOmSQKYg

“Oh What a Visual War”, Interview at On War & Society Podcast, Laurier Center for Military, Strategic and Disarmament Studies, 2021.

Invited blog posts

Beatriz Pichel, “Who cares? The Ethics and Emotions of Historical Medical Photography”, AboutFace project website, 2020 https://aboutfaceyork.com/2020/07/who-cares/

Beatriz Pichel, Katherine Rawling and Jennifer Wallis, “Historical Photographs as Sensitive Sources: Questions and Challenges”, Historical Transactions, Royal Historical Society, 2020 https://blog.royalhistsoc.org/2020/09/07/photographs-sensitive-sources/

 Harriet Palfreyman, Beatriz Pichel and Katherine Rawling: “Picturing Medicine: Visual and Material Culture as Historical Source”, The Polyphony, 2018 https://thepolyphony.org/2018/10/04/picturing-medicine-visual-and-material-culture-as-historical-source/

Beatriz Pichel, “Teaching History with Photographs”, Social History Society, Teaching Exchange, 2018, https://socialhistory.org.uk/shs_exchange/teaching-history-with-photographs/

Beatriz Pichel, “The Backstage of Hysteria”, Remedia, 2017, https://remedianetwork.net/2017/01/16/the-backstage-of-hysteria-medicine-in-the-photographic-studio/