From 18th Century Vitalism to 21st Century Breathing in a Face Mask

I am in the first year (part time) of an AHRC funded Medical Humanities PhD. The project explores respiratory science, medicine and ventilation within an eighteenth and early nineteenth-century context, particularly that of the London stage, examining the theatre as a shared breathing space between cast and audience. 

Alix Gallagher, University of Glasgow

You can find her on Twitter @Galixg and contact her at a.gallagher.2@research.gla.ac.uk.


The 4 pages of this poster discuss eighteenth-century vitalism – the idea of a universal force that governs all life on earth – and specifically the role that respiration plays. As such, I place writing about eighteenth-century breathing experiments in dialogue with twenty-first century sensations of breathing in face masks.