School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics

Staff Profile

Professor Anne Whitehead

Professor of Modern and Contemporary Literature



Anne has worked at Newcastle University since she was appointed as a lecturer in 1999. Before this, she held a two-year Earl Grey Memorial post-doctoral research fellowship at Newcastle.  

Internal Roles

Anne is on research leave in semester 2 of 2020-21.  

Anne sits on the steering committee of the Newcastle University Medical Humanities Network and she acts as a mentor in the Newcastle University Mentor Scheme.

External Roles

Anne is a regular national and international reviewer and she is a member of the AHRC Peer Review College (2017-22).  

Anne sits on the steering committee of the Wellcome funded Northern Network for Medical Humanities Research. 

Anne is currently an external examiner on the MA in Medical Humanities: Bodies, Cultures and Ideas at Birkbeck, University of London (2020-24). She has previously been appointed as external examiner of the undergraduate English Literature degrees at Cardiff University (2011-2014) and Bristol University (2016-20). At doctoral level, Anne has been an external examiner for candidates at institutions in the UK, Australia, Singapore, and Finland.  






Research Interests

Most recently, Anne has written the monograph Medicine and Empathy in Contemporary British Fiction: An Intervention in Medical Humanities (Edinburgh University Press, 2017). Here she argues that empathy is not something that we have but something that we do. Through a series of textual readings, Anne examines how the contemporary novel can illuminate the operations of empathy, with an emphasis on fiction's ability to hold open different voices and possibilities. Reviewing the book in Contemporary Literature, Jane F. Thrailkill observed: 'Whitehead's new book models the ways that interdisciplinary scholarship, written under the aegis of the medical humanities, can address profound questions about human connectedness in an increasingly technophile, neoliberal and globalized world'. 

Anne has co-edited with Angela Woods, Sarah Atkinson, Jane Macnaughton and Jennifer Richards The Edinburgh Companion to the Critical Medical Humanities (Edinburgh University Press, 2016). This volume asks how interdisciplinary thinking across the humanities and social sciences might contribute to, and become productively entangled with, the medical understanding of the human both individually and collectively.

Anne's other books include Memory: New Critical Idiom (Routledge, 2008) and Theories of Memory: A Reader, co-edited with Michael Rossington (Edinburgh University Press, 2007). Anne is also the author of Trauma Fiction (Edinburgh University Press, 2004), and she co-edited W. G. Sebald: A Critical Companion with J. J. Long (Edinburgh University Press, 2004). Her articles have been published in Modern Fiction Studies, Contemporary Literature and Textual Practice. She co-edited a special issue of Feminist Theory on feminism and affect with Carolyn Pedwell (2012).  

Doctoral Supervision

Anne is an experienced supervisor of doctoral projects and welcomes applications in any area of her expertise. She was Director of Postgraduate Studies for the School of English (2013-16) and she acted as Interim Director of the Northern Bridge Doctoral Training Consortium (2015-16).

Engagement and Impact 

Anne was PI on an Innovate UK/AHRC funded Knowledge Transfer Partnership with Seven Stories: The National Centre for Children's Books, working with Lucy Pearson. The project was the recipient of the Times Higher Education Leadership and Management Award for Knowledge Exchange Project of the Year, 2017.    


Undergraduate Teaching

SEL2206, Contemporary Cultures (lecturer)

SEL1023, Transformations (lecturer)

SEL3362 English Literature Dissertation (supervisor) 


Postgraduate Teaching

Research Methods: 'Representing Pain' (MA in English Literature)

Thinking Theories and Methods: 'Medical Humanities' (Faculty of Arts and Humanities Doctoral Training)