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.

Roles and Responsibilities

Director of Postgraduate Studies for the School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics

Co-ordinator of the Northern Bridge doctoral funding competition for the School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics.  

Feedback and Consultation Hours 

Mondays 11-1 and Thursdays 10-11. 

Research Interests

I specialise in modern and contemporary literature and critical theory, particularly trauma studies, memory studies, gender studies, and psychoanalysis. More recently, I have developed interests in the medical humanities and in literature and human rights.

In trauma studies, I have published the monograph Trauma Fiction (Edinburgh University Press, 2004), which was translated into Chinese in 2011 (trans. Li Ming, Henan University Press). In this study I analysed a then emergent genre within contemporary fiction and explored how a range of novelists responded to the challenge of writing traumatic narratives. I have also co-edited with J. J. Long W. G. Sebald - A Critical Companion (Edinburgh University Press, 2004), which was the first English language collection of essays on Sebald's writing. I have, in addition, published on trauma and literature in a range of leading international journals, including Modern Fiction Studies, Textual Practice, and Contemporary Literature. 

In memory studies, I have published the monograph Memory: New Critical Idiom (Routledge, 2008). This volume traced the concept of memory in Western thought, underlining important shifts in memory discourse over time. Running counter to a historical narrative, I also threaded through the volume three key motifs or 'idioms' of memory, namely inscription, spatial metaphors, and body memory. I have also co-edited with Michael Rossington and contributing editors Theories of Memory: A Reader (Edinburgh University Press, 2007), which was the first critical reader in the field of memory studies.

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 also general editor with Angela Woods (Durham University) of the Edinburgh Companion to the Critical Medical Humanities (Edinburgh University Press). The associate editors are Sarah Atkinson (Durham University), Jane Macnaughton (Durham University), and Jennifer Richards (Newcastle University).  

Doctoral Supervision

I am interested in supervising postgraduates in the following areas: postwar British fiction; trauma and literature; literatures and theories of memory and forgetting; medicine, health and modern literature; literature and war; literature and genocide; literature and human rights. I welcome enquiries from prospective PhD and MLitt (Masters by research) students and postdoctoral researchers.  

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)
  • Clare Almond, 'Rehearsing Modern Tragedy: A Benjaminian Interpretation of Drama and the Dramatic in Samuel Taylor Coleridge's Writings' (2014)
  • 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).    

I am currently supervising an AHRC funded PhD project on the myth of coming of age in contemporary fictions of the First World War.

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.