Dr Elsa Richardson

Dr Elsa Richardson is a cultural historian of health, medicine and psychology, with a particular interest in the history of vegetarianism and the science of nutrition.

Since being named one of BBC Radio 3’s New Generation Thinkers in 2018, her broadcast work has included discussion and festival appearances, essays and interviews. She has contributed to the public programming of institutions like the Wellcome Collection and has collaborated on a number of curatorial projects.

Having completed her PhD with the Centre for the History of Emotions at Queen Mary University of London, Elsa is now a Chancellor’s Fellow in the History of Health and Wellbeing at the University of Strathclyde.

BBC Radio 3 New Generation Thinker 2018


Rumbles: A Curious History of the Gut

Elsa Richardson

The stomach is notoriously outspoken. It growls, gurgles and grumbles while other organs remain silent, inconspicuous and content. For centuries humans have puzzled over this rowdy, often overzealous organ, deliberating on the extent of its influence over cognition, mental wellbeing and emotions, and wondering how the gut became so central to our sense of self.

Travelling from Ancient Greece to Victorian England, eighteenth-century France to modern America, cultural historian Elsa Richardson leads us on a lively tour of the gut, exploring all the ways that we have imagined, theorised and probed the mysteries of the gastroenterological system. We’ll meet a wildly diverse cast of characters including Edwardian body builders, hunger-striking suffragettes, demons, medieval alchemists, and one poor teenage girl plagued by a remarkably vocal gut, all united by this singular organ.

Engaging, eye-opening and thought-provoking, Rumbles leaves no stone unturned, scrutinising religious tracts and etiquette guides, satirical cartoons and political pamphlets, in its quest to answer the millennia-old question: Are we really ruled by our stomachs