Dr Anne Whitehead
Senior Lecturer in Modern and Contemporary Literature

  • Email: anne.whitehead@ncl.ac.uk
  • Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 3531
  • Fax: +44 (0) 191 208 8708
  • Address: School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 7RU, UK.


I research in the area of modern and contemporary literature, with particular interests in postwar fiction and war literature. I work across several fields: trauma studies, memory studies, critical affect studies, and the medical humanities.

Roles and Responsibilities

In 2013-14,  I am Director of Postgraduate Studies.

I am currently an external examiner of undergraduate degrees in English Literature at the University of Cardiff. 

Feedback and Consultation Hours 

My feedback and consultation hours in semester 2 of 2013-14 are Mondays 11-1 and Thursdays 10-11.

Research Interests

I research in the area of modern and contemporary literature, with particular interests in postwar fiction and war literature. I work across several fields: trauma studies, memory studies, critical affect studies, and the medical humanities.

I have established research expertise in the relationship between trauma and modern literature, and I have published the monograph Trauma Fiction (Edinburgh University Press, 2004; trans. Li Ming, Henan University Press, 2011) and co-edited with J. J. Long, W. G. Sebald - A Critical Companion (Edinburgh University Press, 2004). I have also published in this area in a range of journals, including Modern Fiction Studies, Textual Practice, and Contemporary Literature. 

I have related expertise in the field of memory studies, most notably in the publication of my monograph Memory: New Critical Idiom (Routledge, 2008) and, co-edited with Michael Rossington and contributing editors, Theories of Memory: A Reader (Edinburgh University Press/Johns Hopkins University Press/ University of Western Australia Press, 2007).

Current Work

I am currently preparing my next monograph, Medicine and Empathy in Contemporary British Fiction, which is contracted to Edinburgh University Press. 

I am general editor, with Angela Woods, of the Edinburgh Companion to the Critical Medical Humanities. The associate editors on the project are Sarah Atkinson, Jane Macnaughton, and Jennifer Richards. 

With the support of a Catherine Cookson Foundation Grant, I am also leading a project that is linked to the First World War centenary, Beyond Shell Shock: Care, Trauma and the First World War in British Fiction.      

Doctoral Supervision

I am interested in supervising postgraduates in the following areas: trauma and literature; literatures and theories of memory and forgetting; memory, forgetting and the archive; literatures and theories of empathy and care; medicine, health and modern/contemporary literature; literature and war or genocide; postwar British fiction.

I have supervised to completion seven PhDs, all of which have passed with no or minor corrections:

  • Leen Maes, 'Imagined Witness: Representing the Holocaust in American Women's Fiction' (2006; AHRC funded)
  • Franklyn Hyde, 'Towards Decolonisation in the Fiction of J. M. Coetzee' (2009; AHRC funded)
  • Katie Harland, 'The Roots of Traumatic Memory: Wordsworth and the Origins of Trauma in Literature' (2009; AHRC funded)
  • Lucy Gallagher, 'The Contemporary Women's Middlebrow Novel' (2011; AHRC funded)
  • Ivan Stacy, 'Narrative as Complicity: Atrocity, Culpability and Failures of Witnessing in W. G. Sebald and Kazuo Ishiguro' (2013)
  • Alex Adams, '"What Can be Infinitely Destroyed Is What Can Infinitely Survive": Literary and Filmic Representations of Political Torture from Algiers to Guantanamo' (2014; AHRC funded)
  • Clare Almond, 'Rehearsing Modern Tragedy: A Benjaminian Interpretation of Drama and the Dramatic in Samuel Taylor Coleridge's Writings' (2014)   

Doctoral Examining

I have acted as external examiner for PhDs at Sheffield University, Durham University, the University of St Andrews, and Vaasa University in Finland. 

Recent invited papers/lectures

Edinburgh University (2013); Centre for Irish Studies, Catholic University of Leuven (2012); University of Lincoln (2012); University of Zurich (2011); Centre for Literature and Trauma, University of Ghent (2011); University of Mainz (2010); University of Vienna (2010); University of St Andrews (2010); Cambridge University (2009); Institute of Advanced Studies, University of Durham (2009). 

External Funding

AHRC Research Leave Award (2006-2007); AHRC Research Leave Award (2002-2003); British Academy Small Research Grant (2001).

External Assessorships

I have assessed funding bids for the following external bodies: AHRC, Leverhulme Trust, Royal Society, Newton Fellowships, Humanities and Social Sciences Research Council of Canada, the Flemish Research Council (FWO) Vlaanderen, the Research Council of KU Leuven.

Editorial Boards and Professional Memberships  

I am on the editorial board for the Journal of Trauma and Literature. I am also on the advisory board for the AHRC funded Memory Network.

I am a member of the UK and Ireland Association of the Medical Humanities, the Contemporary Women's Writing Association, and the research network War-Net. Regionally, I am also a member of the Northern Network for Medical Humanities Research and the Northern Theory School. 

Engagement Activities

  • Host and lead organiser, Literature and Human Rights: A Critical Examination, with Aminatta Forna, Zoe Norridge and Lyndsey Stonebridge (Newcastle University, in association with NCLA, May 2013).  
  • Book Forum on Pat Barker's Life Class (City Library, Newcastle, March 2013)
  • In conversation with Pat Barker and public lecture, 'The Face of War: Reading Pat Barker's Life Class', as part of About Face exhibition of Henry Tonks' portraits at Durham Light Infantry Museum (Institute of Advanced Studies and Centre for Medical Humanities, Durham University, June 2012)
  • 'Never Let Me Go', Tyneside Cinema Book Club (Newcastle, 2011)
  • 'Connections across Texts', Modes in Motion: OCR A Level English Language and Literature Conference (London, 2008)
  • 'Life Writing' (with Blake Morrison), Reading Lives, (British Council, Oxford, 2007)
  • 'Memory', Australia Talks, Australian Broadcasting Corporation (2007).


Undergraduate Teaching

I see my teaching to be closely informed by and in a mutually enriching relationship with my research.

My specialist stage 3 module is SEL3356, Madness, Medicine and Modern Literature, which emerges out of my research interests in the intersection between medicine and the modern novel. These interests are also reflected in the Student Selected Component, Literature, Writing and Medicine, that I co-convene with Professor Richard Thomson for stage 4 students in the Faculty of Medicine.

My research specialism in post-war fiction contributes to my co-teaching on the stage 2 module SEL2206, Class, Nation, Identity, and also on the stage 1 modules SEL1003 Introduction to Literary Studies I and SEL1023 Transformations.


Postgraduate Teaching

At Masters level, my teaching is focused around my research interests in memory, trauma and war, and I contribute a unit on 'Remembering the Holocaust' to the team-taught module 'Time II' on the MA in Modern and Contemporary Studies.