skip to content

Harding Distinguished Postgraduate Scholars Programme


  Amelia Hutchinson,

  United Kingdom

  History, Jesus College

  PhD thesis:  Medicinal and Therapeutic Materials in Augsburg’s Cabinets of Curiosity (working title).

  Research interests:
  1. Material culture.
  2. History of Medicine and the body.
                                3. Early Modern German-speaking lands.
                                4. Integrating interdisciplinary practices into historical research.

My PhD focuses on the relationship between materiality and the body in Germany, c.1600. Specifically, it aims to investigate how and why patrons commissioned and collected specific materials, and how they understood material objects (and the spaces within which they placed them) to affect their physical health. It will start by looking closely at objects collected as parts of Cabinets of Curiosity, such as the extant ‘Augsburg Cabinet’ in Uppsala, Sweden. In 1632, as art-agent Philipp Hainhofer presented this ‘Augsburg Art Cabinet’ to the Swedish king, Gustav Adolphus, he wrote that some considered it “to be the eighth wonder of the world”. Yet, despite contemporary and historical appreciation of such collections, these examples of encyclopaedic nature have yet to be considered in terms of how medicine and the body interconnect with explorations of materials and the natural world.

Who or what inspired you to pursue your research interests?
My research was inspired by two components of my undergraduate studies – the history of medicine, and material culture studies. Though taken as separate modules, the interconnected nature of these topics became clear the more I delved into them, prompting me to investigate the link between the material and the medical within the early modern German context. I am indebted to my supervisor, Professor Ulinka Rublack, for helping me to map these areas of overlap, and for encouraging me to pursue this research at both master’s and doctoral level.