The intersection between nurses and popular media is longstanding.

Florence Nightingale died in 1910 and British Pathe’s coverage of her funeral is a very early instance of nurses appearing on film. Nightingale was the subject of a silent film biography by 1915 and thereafter film, television, theatre and live performance and other media have showcased the nurse and the nursing profession. The familiarity of the nurse is inherently visual; the iconography of nurse in cap, cape and uniform remains current in realms from the stripper to the pop culture memories of the matron of the Carry On films, even though that iconography, especially the cap, has disappeared from real world nursing.

The presence of the nurse and the nursing profession in popular media has attracted some scholarly interest. The expression of values and professional identities, the influence of the popular understanding the actual, and particular popular culture nurses such as Nurse Ratched from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest have appeared in the scholarly literature. However more remains to be said about the variety of impressions and the diversity of platforms and representations of nursing that occur via media depictions that can range from valorising to sexualising. The interactions between the actual and the fictional, the capacity of the nurses of popular culture to mirror, distort, or inspire the nurses of the real world warrants further attention. Does seeing a nurse on screen inspire people to enter the profession? To what extent is a gender disparity in the profession attributable to mediated distillations? If nurses are the caring profession, why are there so many nurses in horror films? If Florence Nightingale was a secular saint, why is the profession’s iconography appropriated by the stripper and the porn actress? These and other questions are starting points for unpacking the media representations of the nurse.

The proposed volume is intended to be scholarly but accessible in tone and approach.

This proposed collection is under contract with a US publisher.

Abstracts of up to 250 words are invited explaining the focus and approach the chapter will take. Please email by May 30th 2020.

Submissions can address any aspect of the intersection of nursing with popular culture, which itself can comprise media from film, television, journalism and print cultures, new and digital media, and music,

  • Soap opera and drama (Emergency Ward 10, Shortland Street, Angels, Call the Midwife among others)
  • The nurse in horror films
  • The sex industry and pornography
  • The Carry On films
  • Nurses and their reputations in the media (e.g. Florence Nightingale, Edith Cavell)
  • Celebrity nursing
  • Cultures of nursing
  • Popular artefacts of nurses and nursing
  • Popular history of nursing and nursing training
  • Nursing and propaganda

Each contribution would be 6000 words all inclusive. We could not accept contributions that require the reproduction of images unless you already hold the rights to reproduce them.



Editor biographies

Associate Professor Marcus Harmes has published extensively in the fields of religious and political history, with a particular emphasis on British religious history and popular culture. His most recent publications in the field of television studies include Roger Delgado: I am usually referred to as the Master (Fantom Publishing 2017) and Doctor Who and the Art of Adaptation (Rowman and Littlefield, 2015). He is the author of numerous studies on the church in modern popular culture, especially on film and television, including book chapters in the collections Doctor Who and Race and Time and Relative Dimensions in Faith, and articles in journals including Science Fiction Film and Television, Journal of Popular Television and Journal of Religion and Popular Culture. In 2018 he has edited the Handbook for Springer on Postgraduate Education in Higher Education.


Meredith A Harmes teaches communication and works in the enabling programs at the University of Southern Queensland in Australia.    Her research interests include modern British and Australian politics and popular culture in Britain and America.   Her most recent publication in the Australasian Journal of Popular Culture was on race and cultural studies on American television. She holds an honours degree from the University of Queensland in political science as well as a diploma of modern languages (German) from the University of New England and a graduate diploma of Journalism and a Masters of Public Relations from the University of Southern Queensland.  She is co-editor of Postgraduate Education in Higher Eduaction (Springer, 2018).


Dr Barbara Harmes lectures at the University of Southern Queensland. Her doctoral research focussed on the discursive controls built around sexuality in late-nineteenth-century England. Her research interests include cultural studies and religion. She has published in areas including modern Australian politics, 1960s American television and her original field of Victorian literature.