Faculty of Social & Historical Sciences


Dr Elaine Leong

Academic position: Lecturer

Department: History

Email: e.leong@ucl.ac.uk

Website: Elaine Leong


Elaine joined the department in 2019 and holds a Wellcome University Award. Prior to arriving at UCL, Elaine led the Minerva Research Group ‘Reading and Writing Nature in Early Modern Europe’ at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin. Elaine trained at the Warburg Institute and the University of Oxford and completed postdoctoral fellowships at the University Cambridge and the University of Warwick. 

Research Projects:

Elaine's research is largely concerned with ideas of health and the body in early modern Europe with a particular focus on gender and the everyday. Her research on health technologies and on the transfer of medical knowledge across different communities particularly fit under the rubric of 'SHS as Health, Mind and Society'. 

Elaine's research is centered upon medical and scientific knowledge transfer and production. Her first book Recipes and Everyday Knowledge: Medicine, Science, and the Household in Early Modern England (Chicago, 2018) was awarded the 2019 Margaret W. Rossiter Prize by the History of Science Society. Using a range of sources such as recipe books, letters and more, the book brings into focus what she terms ‘household science’ – that is, quotidian investigations of the natural world – and situates these within broader and current conversations about gender and cultural history, the history of the book, the history of archives and the history of science, medicine and technology.

Her current book project Reading Rivière in Early Modern England, uses the story of Lazare Rivière’s (1589-1655) bestselling Praxis medica/The Practice of Physick to explore reading and writing practices as processes of knowledge production, maintenance and transfer. Elaine is also working on a Wellcome Trust funded project, ‘Technologies of Health c. 1450-1750’, which aims to recover histories of everyday health objects such as warming stones and medical adverts. As part of this, she co-convenes the ‘Objects, Images and Spaces in Health’ working group at the Consortium for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine. She also have interests in digital history and co-direct ‘Reading Early Medicine’ – a website, centred on a bibliographical database, which fosters the teaching and research of early modern medicine. 


Elaine's courses explore ideas of health and the body in early modern societies. Her advanced seminar uses early modern medical books to introduce students to past health cultures. She is also preparing a new Second Year Special Subject on the theme of sex, gender and the body in early modern England. This focuses on notions, representations and lived experiences of the body in early modern societies.