Valentine's Late: Open Hearts, Racing Pulses

With the Surgery & Emotion project at the University of Roehampton

12 Feb 2020 18:00 - 21:00

20 Cavendish Square, Marylebone, London, W1G ORN


For Valentine's Day we team up with the Surgery & Emotions project at the University of Roehampton.

Join us to explore the rich feelings associated with the operating theatre, from compassion and romance, to anxiety and fear. Make your own medical romance cover, play surgical Top Trumps, join a mystery treasure hunt, and hear short talks on the often surprising history of emotions in surgical care.

Short talks

  • Feeling things in the Operating Theatre: The History of Surgery and Emotion - Michael Brown, University of Roehampton
  • Agony Aunts, Open Hearts, and Stiff Upper Lips: Emotions on the Problem Page - Tracey Loughran, University of Essex
  • Sex & Scandal: "Purifying" the Nursing Profession in the 1930s - Sarah Chaney, Queen Mary Centre for the History of the Emotions

Activities running throughout the evening

  • Make your own Medical Romance Fiction
    Pen your own stories and design your own cover art inspired by real-life medical romance fiction. Historians will be on hand to guide you through the tropes that populate this fiction and to discuss how the novels have shaped stereotypes about the surgical, medical, and nursing professions.

  • Doctors & Nurses ‘Top Trumps’
    Develop your own versions of the classic card game using doctors and nurses from history and fiction. Determine the winning characteristics and compete to identify the most compassionate, empathetic, or skilful doctor or nurse.

  • Sleuthing with Cherry Ames
    Can you help nurse detective Cherry Ames discover the identify of her mystery surgery patient? Follow clues around the building to solve the puzzle and gain your prize! Based on a 1950s nursing novel by Helen Wells.

  • Who Cares? A History of Emotions in Nursing: From birth to death and everything in between, explore emotions in the history of nursing in a new exhibition at the RCN Library and Heritage Centre.

  • Tracing Trauma
    Feeling and Emotion in Surgical Illustration: What feelings are represented and prompted by clinical drawings, photographs, and cartoons? Guided by art historian Christine Slobogin, visitors will be able to try their hand at sketching and interpreting some images of World War II facial reconstruction (courtesy of the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive, and Aesthetic Surgeons)

  • Suturing and Sympathy
    The Royal College of Surgeons museums team will be offering surgical skills training led

  • Sculptural Snogging
    Delve into the art and science of our mouths, kissing and sexual health by modelling and modifying an anatomical waxwork of your ideal luscious lips and tantalising tongue. Led by artist, doctor and dentist Simon Hall.

  • Could you be an Agony Aunt?
    Take the quiz and match questions and answers on love, sex, and relationships from women’s magazines from the 1960s to 1980s to find out how you would fare as a twentieth-century agony aunt.

  • Communication in the Operating Theatre
    Using anonymised footage of real operating theatre situations, get a sense of how operating theatres work and discuss surgical communication and emotions with expert theatre nurse and researcher Sharon Weldon.


The venue is fully wheelchair accessible. Assistance dogs are welcome.

If you have any other needs, please email us at and we will assist you wherever possible. Advertised start times are when the doors open. Talks usually begin 30 minutes later. Check back nearer the time for the full programme. Where possible, we film events and put them up online. Check our website for footage of past events.

View our Terms & Conditions for events here.

20 Cavendish Square

20 Cavendish Square is located behind John Lewis, Oxford Street.


The nearest stations are Oxford Circus and Bond Street.


There are many buses routes that stop nearby, including the 10, 25, 55, 73, 98 and 390.

Page last updated - 19/06/2020