Photo of Dr Stephen Kenny

Dr Stephen Kenny PhD FHEA

Senior Lecturer, 19th and 20th century North American History History


    My Research

    Slavery, 'Race', and Medicine in the Atlantic World - especially encounters between slaveholders, physicians, physician-slaveholders and slaves in the Deep South and the continuation of race-science and medical racism in the post-slavery era.

    Particularly interested in histories of human experiments under American slavery and how these experiments were enabled by various means:

    The Conversation reports linked above and below highlight many of the core themes and issues explored my larger project:'How black slaves were routinely sold as specimens to ambitious white doctors'

    Collaborative New Orleans public radio program broadcast (Tripod: New Orleans at 300) on Touro Infirmary's First Admission Book and role as a slave hospital:

    Research Supervision

    Welcome inquiries for postgraduate research (PhD and MRes) in modern American social and cultural histories, especially projects that plan to explore histories of bodies, health, medicine, power, 'race', or slavery. The University has multi-level research links with the University of Georgia, which include opportunities for postgraduate exchange (UGA-Liverpool PG Research Fellowships), hosts the Centre for the Study of International Slavery, and is home to a growing number of researchers working in the critical medical humanities.

    Working with Graeme Milne, Alex Buchanan, Deana Heath, and Chris Pearson, am a co-supervisor for the following postgraduate research students:
    Nicholas Fuqua, 'Landscapes of Slavery in Liverpool and Charleston'
    Louise Roberts (History GTA) 'Displayed peoples in a post WW1 Imperial context'
    Victoria Shea (ARHC PhD studentship) 'Racism and companion species relationships in the American South'

    Working with Richard Huzzey and William Ashworth, was part of the supervisory team for:
    Joe Kelly, (ESRC CASE studentship, 2014) 'Supply Chains and Moral Responsibility: Slavery and Capitalism after British Emancipation' [completed 2017]
    Working with Michael Tadman, was a co-supervisor for:
    Andrea Livesey (ESRC PhD studentship), 'Sexual Violence in the Slaveholding Regimes of Louisiana and Texas' [completed August 2015]
    Working with Mark Peel and Graeme Milne, was a co-supervisor for:
    Emily Trafford (AHRC PhD studentship), ‘Where the Races Meet’:Racial Framing through Live Display at the American West Coast World’s Fairs, 1894-1916' [completed December 2015]
    Working with Deana Heath and Celia Donert, was a co-supervisor for:
    Beth Wilson (AHRC Phd studentship) '"I ain' mad now and I know taint no use to lie": The Framing, Editing and Manipulation of Emotions in 1930s Ex-Slave Documents' [completed September 2019]

    Research Awards

    • Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship - Dark Medicine: racism, power and the culture of American slavery, Spring 2015
    • UGA-Liverpool Seed Grant – Slavery and the 19th century Atlantic economy, Spring 2015
    • U.S. Embassy London, United Kingdom Grant Program - Life and Limb: the toll of the American Civil War, Spring 2015
    • School of Histories, Languages and Cultures, Discretionary Award - Life and Limb: the toll of the American Civil War, Spring 2015
    • American Association for the History of Medicine Travel Award, Spring 2015
    • Reynolds Associates Research Fellowship in the History of the Health Sciences, The Historical Collections Unit of the Lister Hill Library of the Health Sciences, University of
    Alabama at Birmingham, October 2013
    • Franklin-Liverpool Research Collaboration, University of Georgia, Spring 2013
    • AHRC Interdisciplinary Seminar Series for American Studies Researchers in the North-West: Skills Development, Networking, and Dissemination
    • Franklin International Scholars Program, University of Georgia, Summer 2012
    • Stanley Jackson Prize, Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, 2012
    • Franklin International Faculty Exchange, (FIFE), Spring 2011
    • British Academy Overseas Conference Award, 2011
    • Watson-Brown Foundation Short Term Visiting Fellowship, Institute for Southern Studies, University of South Carolina, 2009
    • Midlo Center for New Orleans Studies Visiting Research Fellow, University of New Orleans, 2005
    • Institute for Southern Studies Visiting Research Fellow, University of South Carolina, 1999
    • Undergraduate dissertation prize, Department of American Studies, University of Hull, 1992

    Research Grants

    Dark Medicine: racism, power and the culture of American slavery


    August 2015 - August 2016

    Interdisciplinary Seminar Series for American Studies Researchers in the North-West: Skills Development, Networking and Dissemination


    January 2013 - December 2013

    Supply Chains and Transnational Bonds: Slavery and Capitalism in Anti-Slavery Britain


    October 2014 - September 2017

    Research Collaborations

    Professor Vanessa Northington Gamble

    Project: Histories and Legacies of Dr James Marion Sims
    External: The George Washington University

    2018-2019 marks 170 years since Dr. James Marion Sims first repaired obstetrical fistulae on enslaved women in Alabama. Sims, known as "The Father of American Gynecology," rose to fame - and later infamy - because of his experimental medical surgical work on these and other enslaved patients. He included a carefully framed discussion of these experiments in his post-humously published autobiography, 'The Story of My Life' (1884), which charted his career journeys - from a 'frontier doctor' to the president of the American Medical Association.
    Sims received a number of honors during his lifetime and following his passing, most notably these include statues located in Central Park in New York, the Alabama Statehouse grounds, and at the state capitol in Columbia, South Carolina. The lives of his enslaved experimental patients have - until recently - either been ignored or reduced to thin coverage in the annals of social and medical history. This project puts Sims in full historical and historiographical context and considers the afterlife, impact and legacy of his career