I studied for a BA in Modern History at Brasenose College, Oxford University and for an MA in Historical Research at Durham. I then returned to Oxford to complete a DPhil on representations of adultery in England 1660-1740 under the supervision of Dr Martin Ingram. After that I held the first Past and Present Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at the Institute of Historical Research and taught at the University of Glamorgan before taking up my post at Swansea in 2005. I am the author of Fashioning Adultery: Gender, Sex and Civility in England 1660-1740 (Cambridge University Press, 2002) and the co-editor (with Kevin Stagg) of Social Histories of Disability and Deformity (Routledge, 2006). My most recent book Disability in Eighteenth-Century England: Imagining Physical Impairment (Routledge, 2012) won the Disability History Association Outstanding Publication prize for the best book published worldwide in Disability History. I am Principal Investigator and Director of Disability and Industrial Society: A Comparative Cultural History of British Coalfields 1780-1948 (http://www.dis-ind-soc.org.uk), funded by a Wellcome Trust Programme Award.

Professor Turner is Director of the Research Group for Health, History and Culture. He is also a member of MEMO, Swansea's Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Research.


  1. Turner, D. Picturing disability in eighteenth-century England (Ed.), Oxford University Press
  2. Turner, D., Blackie, D. Disability in the Industrial Revolution : Physical impairment in British coalmining, 1780–1880 Manchester Manchester University Press
  3. Turner, D. 'Not So Deformed in Body as Debauched in Behaviour': Disability and 'Marginality' in Late Seventeenth- and Early Eighteenth-Century England (Ed.), The Place of the Social Margins, 1350-1750 39 56
  4. Turner, D., Withey, A. Technologies of the Body: Polite Consumption and the Correction of Deformity in Eighteenth-Century England History 99 338 775 796
  5. Turner, D. Birth Anomaly and Childhood Disability (Ed.), The Secrets of Generation: Reproduction in the Long Eighteenth Century 217 237 Toronto University of Toronto Press

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  • FY-012 Introduction to Being Human

    This module will focus on introducing what it is to be human from a broad humanities and social science perspective. It will offer the opportunity to engage with key ideas, theory and literature within these disciplines. It will therefore prepare students for further academic work in the humanities and social sciences and initiate the development of critical thinking and creative abilities.

  • FY-018 History, Memory and the creation of Identity

    In most human societies, history and memory are important in the creation of identity. For example, consider how recent political debates often involve debates about the relevance of particular strands of history (such as `empire¿) to modern society. This module explores these relationships from the ancient societies of Egypt, Greece, and Rome to the modern world. It is designed to provide Foundation Year students intending to pursue degrees in Classics, Ancient History, Egyptology or History with an opportunity to reflect critically on what the past means and how we go about studying it.

  • HI-M01 Historical Methods and Approaches

    This module provides training in advanced historical research. It is designed to introduce students to methods of historical investigation, writing, and presentation, and to important historical resources (including archives, collections of sources, and museums). Attention will be given to the use of IT in historical work work as well as more traditional paper-based methods.

  • HI-M22 Dissertation

    Students produce a dissertation of up to 20,000 words on a historical topic, chosen in conjunction with their supervisor. This represents the culmination of the History MAs, and constitutes Part Two of the programme.

  • HI-M38 New Departures in the Writing of History

    This module provides an introduction to advanced historiography. It is designed to develop students¿ awareness of traditional historiographical concerns alongside their knowledge current trends and new directions in writing and thinking about the past.

  • HI-M39 Research Folder

    This module is designed to help students to identify a dissertation topic appropriate to their interests and expertise, and to tackle the problems of methodology, develop the research techniques, and undertake the project planning which are the necessary preliminaries to researching and writing a 20,000 word dissertation.

  • HI-M88 Modern Medical Bodies: Major themes in the History of Modern Medicine

    This module examines the changing conditions, roles, representations, and uses of bodies in modern medicine. It examines how historians have made the body a central focus of research to explore the interconnections of medical ideas, institutions and practices with histories of modern world and to address core problems of medicalisation, power, class, race, gender, sexuality, nationality, and empire. Surveying the intersections of bodies, medicine, and modernity, students taking this module will develop critical grounding in major themes, controversies and approaches in the history of modern medicine.

  • HIH118 Early Modern World, 1500-1800

    In 1500, European exploration and colonisation of the rest of the world was only in its infancy. America, two continents North and South, had been unknown to Europeans until just eight years previously. Most of it was still unmapped by Europeans, as were large parts of the rest of the world. By 1800, on the other hand, it was possible to construct a recognisable modern version of a world map. Europeans had explored, colonised, and resettled huge swathes of America in the first instances. They had killed or displaced millions of Native Americans in the process, wiping out whole civilisations, and they had enslaved 12 million or more Africans in that same process, inflicting immense damage on African societies. Europeans were in the early stages of colonising large parts of Africa and Asia too by 1800. And yet, advances in science had transformed human understanding of the universe, of the world, and indeed of ourselves. This was connected through the Renaissance in art, culture, and politics as well as science, to enormous changes in the structure of polities and societies. The early modern era perhaps saw the invention not only of modern empires, but of large, centralised modern states. Also, the Renaissance and then Enlightenment changed the way people and states interacted. Arguably, the early modern period represents the transition period between an era of medieval hierarchy and the origins of modern social and political democracy. Essentially, the aim of the module, through your lectures, seminars, and independent reading and thinking, is to give you a sense of the connections between these places and their histories, highlighting that the increasing inter-connection between them is itself a feature of the early modern period. You¿ll also get a broad sense of how the world as a whole changed between 1500 and 1800.

  • HIH122 Making History

    History is an imprecise art and what historians say and write about the past is not the same as what actually happened in the past. Most people's knowledge about the past doesn't come from professional historians at all but rather from 'public history'. Public history is the collective understandings of the past that exist outside academic discipline of history. It is derived from a diverse range of sources including oral traditions, legends, literature, art, films and television. This module will introduce you to the study and presentation of the past. It will consider how the content, aims and methods of academic and public history compare and contrast and you will engage in your own small research project to investigate this. The module will also teach you about the fundamentals of studying and writing history at university. You will learn about essay writing, group work and critical analysis and employ these skills to understand and assess history today, both as an academic activity and as public knowledge.

  • HIH237 The Practice of History

    The purpose of the module is to encourage you to think more deeply about how historians work and, in particular, about how we as historians can locate and use primary historical sources effectively as a means of interpreting and understanding the past. During the module we will learn about the survival of historical evidence, how it is organised and made accessible to historians to undertake their research, and how to effectively locate and interpret it in your studies. We will consider how the process of doing historical research changes over time, in particular with the impact of recent developments like digitization. At the core of the module will be the work you undertake with others in your seminar group using a range of primary sources which your seminar tutor will introduce to you. As part of the module assessment you will also undertake your own primary source based research project using items from these collections. The module is designed strengthen your analytical skills and to help prepare you for the more extensive uses of primary evidence which you will encounter in final year special subjects and dissertation.

  • HIH273 Deformity, Deviance and Difference: Exploring Disability History

    There are over 11 million people with a long-term illness, impairment of disability living in the UK today, but the experiences of disabled people in the past often remain hidden from view. This module provides an introduction to the historical experiences of people with physical, sensory and intellectual impairments from medieval Europe to contemporary society. It explores the changing perception of people with disabilities over time and examines what it has meant to be 'different' in past societies. There have been people with disabilities throughout history, but what it means to be 'disabled' has changed over time. Indeed, the modern category of 'disability' as conferring a 'special needs status' on an individual is a modern invention that has developed since the late eighteenth century. This module will examine the ways in which people with disabilities have been treated in the past, and explores cultural meanings of human difference and their construction in various historical settings. It will show how attitudes towards disability have been varied and that while people with impairments have been stigmatized as 'freaks', or symbols of divine punishment, societies have also found ways of valuing human difference. Beginning with a survey of attitudes towards disability in medieval times, the module examines the development of state welfare responses to sickness and disability, changing medical approaches to impairment and debates about whether people with disabilities should be cared for in the community or inside institutions. The growth of educational provision for children with disabilities since the late eighteenth century will also be surveyed. Furthermore, the module will examine the impact of warfare and industrialization on approaches to disability and show how movements for Disability Rights emerged in the modern era. Throughout, students will be given access to the voices and experiences of people with disabilities themselves through a variety of primary source material.

  • HIH3300 History Dissertation

    The History dissertation is a free-standing, 40-credit module that runs across both semesters of Level Three. Candidates conduct research upon a subject of their choice, devised in consultation with a member of staff teaching for the degrees in History, and concerning a topic that falls within staff research and teaching interests.

  • HIH3377 A History of Sex and Gender

    This module explores the history of sex and gender across a multitude of sites since the Medieval period, examining how and why understandings and ideologies changed. This module looks at the history of sex and gender from a social and cultural perspective, drawing out connections with class and race. It explores how ideas of masculinity and femininity have changed over time, how gender has impacted on social, economic and political life, and how dominant ideologies of gender relate to the experience of men¿s and women¿s daily lives. The module will also analyse changing attitudes towards sexuality and demonstrate how modern sexual identities are the product of historical processes rather than fixed and unchanging. Students will be introduced to the key historiographical debates around the history of gender and to the core challenges that drive historians while researching these vital themes.


  • Benefits of and Barriers to Public Engagement with Research (PE-R) for Researchers, Institutions and the Public (current)

    Other supervisor: Prof Huw Bowen
    Other supervisor: Prof Harold Thimbleby
  • Aspects of Deafness in Eighteenth-Century England. (current)

    Other supervisor: Dr Leighton James
  • Living with Vernon; the lives of inmates during 1850-1900 at Vernon House, the Briton Ferry Insane Asylum (the creative element - 80k words)«br /»«br /»«br /»«br /»«br /»«br /»«br /»«br /»«br /»«br /»«br /»«br /»«br /»«br /»«br /»«br /»«br /»«br /»«br /» How far is it possible to recreate experience and identity from historical records? (the academic essay - 20k words)«br /»«br /»«br /»«br /»«br /»«br /»«br /»«br /»«br /»«br /»«br /»«br /»«br /»«br /»«br /»«br /»«br /»«br /»«br /» (current)

    Other supervisor: Mr Jon Gower
  • Representations of the Mouth in Medieval Health and Culture (current)

    Other supervisor: Dr Laura Kalas
  • Recorded Responses to Epilepsy in Europe in the Central Medieval Period (current)

    Other supervisor: Prof Patricia Skinner
  • Fluctuating Bodies: Invisible Disability in 19th Century Britain and Ireland (current)

    Other supervisor: Prof Kirsti Bohata
  • Defined by a Label: How Collective Action Brought about Change during the Second Half of the Twentieth Century for People with Cerebral Palsy (awarded 2020)

    Other supervisor: Dr Rebecca Clifford
  • Correcting Vision in Nineteenth Century Britain (awarded 2019)

    Other supervisor: Prof Louise Miskell
  • Calculating Value: Using and Collecting the Tools of Early Modern Mathematics (awarded 2019)

    Other supervisor: Dr Adam Mosley
  • Battles for Breath: A comparative historical analysis of responses to coal workers' pneumoconiosis in South Wales and Central Appalachia, 1968-1985 (awarded 2018)

    Other supervisor: Dr Christoph Laucht