Claire Turner


I graduated from the University of Leeds in 2018 with a First Class BA Honours in History and recently completed my MA in the History of Health, Medicine and Society at the same institution. During my time at Leeds, I developed an interest in epidemiological history and the social history of early modern London. My BA dissertation focused on the relationships between physical and metaphorical space and vulnerability in London’s 1603 and 1625 plague epidemics.

In my MA dissertation, I turned my focus to sensory experiences of the plague in London’s seventeenth-century epidemics. My PhD, which I started in 2019, will follow on from my MA by exploring multisensory experiences and perceptions of the plague in seventeenth-century England. Both my MA and PhD were made possible by funding from the School of History and IMS at Leeds.


Book review of Robert Muchembled, Smells: A Cultural History of Odours in Early Modern Times (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2020), Renaissance Studies, 2021


  • 2020/21: HIST1060: Faith, Knowledge and Power, 1500–1750
  • 2021/22: HIST1060: Faith, Knowledge and Power, 1500–1750
  • 2021/22: HIST2080: Voices of the People: Speech, Language and Oral Culture in Early Modern Europe
  • 2021/22: HIST3388: Teaching & Learning in Early Modern England: Skill, Knowledge, and Education
  • 2021/22: HIST5225M: Gender and Power in Early Modern Europe

Conference papers

  • ‘Smelling the Domestic Environments of English Plague Outbreaks’, Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine (University of Manchester, March 2022)
  • ‘Unquenchable Stenches and Infected Chambers: The Smellscapes of Seventeenth-Century Plague Outbreaks’, Northern Early Modern Network Annual Conference (Newcastle University, January 2022)
  • ‘Bodies and Smells During Seventeenth-Century Plague Outbreaks’, Plague, Space and Materiality (Newcastle University, December 2021)
  • ‘Windows as Sensory Portals During Outbreaks of Plague’ (University of Leeds, October 2021)
  • ‘Smelling the Plague in Seventeenth-Century England’, Historical Perspectives (University of Glasgow, October 2021)
  • ‘House of Horrors: Domestic Lodgings and Their Smells During Plague Epidemics’, Cabinet of Curiosities (University of York, October 2021)
  • ‘Pestilential Soundscapes and Permeable Spatial Boundaries in Seventeenth-Century London’, Workshop for the Early Modern Period (University of Cambridge, July 2021)
  • ‘The Eye as a Site of Contagion in Seventeenth-Century England’, Contagion: Spread the Word (Queen Mary University London, July 2021)
  • ‘“All fearing he would kill them with his eye”: Not Seeing, Seeing, and Being Seen During Seventeenth-Century Plague Outbreaks’, History Lab (The Institute of Historical Research, June 2021)
  • ‘Invisibility and Epidemic Disease: Visual Obscurity During Outbreaks of Plague’, Medical Humanities: (In)Visibility (Northern Network for Medical Humanities Research, April 2021)
  • ‘“No corruption may come in by the windows of your eyes”: Outbreaks of Plague and the Sense of Sight in Seventeenth-Century London’, Sheffield Centre for Early Modern Studies (University of Sheffield, March 2021)
  • ‘Sensing the Suffering of Women in London’s Plague Outbreaks’, Early Modern Quonference (online via Twitter, June 2020)

Blog posts

Research interests

My research investigates how people experienced and perceived epidemic disease through their senses in seventeenth-century England. It will explore interactions between the traditional five senses (sight, smell, sound, taste and touch) and assess how sensory interplay affected the way that people experienced, perceived, and remembered the plague. 

Other activities

  • PGR Representative for the School of History
  • PGRTA Representative for the School of History
  • Co-convenor of the School of History PGR Seminar Series
  • Publicity Officer – History Lab Committee (Institute of Historical Research)
  • Communications Officer – Northern Early Modern Network
  • ‘Dining with Disease: Eating Food During Outbreaks of Plague’, Durham University MEMSA Community Course (July 2021)
  • Co-host and publicity coordinator of an online conference entitled ‘Reconsidering Illness and Recovery in the Early Modern World’ (August 2020)
  • Guest speaker at Princeton University – ‘Sensory Approaches to Nineteenth-Century Psychiatric Photography’ (April 2020)


  • BA History
  • MA History of Health, Medicine and Society