School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics

Staff Profile

Dr Anne Whitehead

Senior Lecturer in Modern and Contemporary Literature



Anne Whitehead is Senior Lecturer in Modern and Contemporary Literature. She has held the post of Senior Lecturer since 2006. She was initially an Earl Grey Memorial Postdoctoral Fellow at Newcastle and was appointed to a lectureship in 1999. 


Anne has authored books on various aspects of modern and contemporary literature, with particular interests in contemporary fiction, memory and trauma studies, theories of affect, literatures of conflict and the medical humanities. Her most recent monograph is Medicine and Empathy in Contemporary British Fiction (Edinburgh University Press, 2017). Her previous books include Trauma Fiction (Edinburgh University Press, 2004) and Memory: New Critical Idiom (Routledge, 2007). Anne has co-edited W. G. Sebald: A Critical Companion (Edinburgh University Press, 2004), Theories of Memory: A Reader (Edinburgh University Press, 2007), The Edinburgh Companion to the Critical Medical Humanities (Edinburgh University Press, 2016), and a special issue of Feminist Theory on feminism and affect (2012).


Anne currently teaches a specialist stage 3 undergraduate module on representations of medicine in modern and contemporary fiction, as well as contributing a unit on literature and biopolitics to a team-taught stage 2 undergraduate module on contemporary cultures. 

At postgraduate level, she teaches contemporary fiction, medicine, and empathy on the MA module 'Mind, Body, Affect' and she offers a seminar on medical humanities on the Faculty doctoral training programme. 

Management Roles

In 2018-19, Anne will be Deputy Head for the School of English, as well as Director of Impact.  

External Activities

Anne has been the lead investigator on the first Innovate UK/ AHRC funded Knowledge Transfer Partnership to be awarded nationally in English Literature (2015-16), working with partner organisation Seven Stories: The National Centre for Children's Books to develop an adult audience for their exhibitions. This project, which focused on the Michael Morpurgo archive, was the recipient of the Knowledge Transfer/Exchange Initiative of the Year at the Times Higher Education Leadership and Management Awards, 2017. 

Anne has been in conversation with novelist Pat Barker at a number of literary events, most recently the 2018 Durham Book Festival.  





Current Work

Anne's most recent monograph is: Medicine and Empathy in Contemporary British Fiction: An Intervention in Medical Humanities (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2017).

You can access reviews of the book here:

Anne has recently co-edited the following book:  

Anne Whitehead, Angela Woods, Sarah Atkinson, Jane Macnaughton and Jennifer Richards (eds) The Edinburgh Companion to the Critical Medical Humanities (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2016).

You can read the Introduction under the 'Resources' tab at the following link:

External Funding

Innovate UK / AHRC Knowledge Transfer Partnership (PI) - Developing Exhibitions for an Adult Audience: The Michael Morpurgo Archive, with Seven Stories: The National Centre for Children's Books (2015-2016).

AHRC Research Leave Award (PI) - Memory: New Critical Idiom (2006-2007)

AHRC Research Leave Award (PI) - Trauma Fiction (2002-2003)

British Academy Small Research Grant (PI)- The Charlotte Salomon Archive (2001).

Invited Talks

Anne has recently been invited to speak at the following events:

Keynote Presentation: 'Imperfect Tense: Reflections on Memoir', Connecting Memories Research Network, Edinburgh University, March 2019.

Plenary Presentation: 'Empathy and Ecology: Louise Gluck's The Wild Iris', '"Altered States": Mind, Embodiment, Aesthetics', Sorbonne University, Institut National d'Histoire de l'Art and Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics, Paris, June 2018.

Presentation: 'Empathy and/as Practice', Empathy and Affect in Medical and Theatrical Practice, University of Warwick, October 2017.

Special panel: 'Politics and Empathy Today', American Comparative Literature Association Annual Conference, University of Utrecht, June 2017.

Presentation, with Angela Woods: 'Why the Critical Medical Humanities?', Birkbeck, University of London, November 2016.

Keynote Address: 'The Medical Humanities and the Question of Empathy', 40th Conference of AEDEAN, University of Zaragoza, October 2016.


Doctoral Supervision

Current students:

Emily Anderson, 'Humour in British Writing of the First World War' (AHRC).

Toby Martinez de las Rivas, 'Sacred Agonies: Pain, Salvation and the Suffering Body' (AHRC)


Completed students:

Anne has supervised thirteen doctoral students to completion, eight of whom have been funded by the AHRC. Recent topics include: 'The Ethics of Writing Fiction on North Korea', 'Childhood, memory and nationhood in Cypriot children's literature since 1974',  'Atrocity, culpability, and failures of witnessing in W. G. Sebald and Kazuo Ishiguro', 'Literary and filmic representations of political torture from Algiers to Guantanamo',  and 'Psychoanalysis, Self Identity and Affect'.

She is also an experienced supervisor of MLitts (MA by Research) and has, most recently, supervised projects on the reading the body in women's testimony of genocide, and on the writing of John Burnside.


Doctoral Examining

University of York, Sheffield University, Durham University, University of St Andrews, University of Stirling, Royal Holloway, Vaasa University in Finland, and Monarch University in Perth, Australia. 


External Assessorships

AHRC, Wellcome Trust, Leverhulme Trust, Royal Society, Newton Fellowships, Humanities and Social Sciences Research Council of Canada, Flemish Research Council (FWO) Vlaanderen, Research Council of KU Leuven.


Editorial Boards and Professional Memberships  

Member of the AHRC Peer Review College (2017-2020)

Member of the editorial board for the Journal of Trauma and Literature.

Member of steering committee for the Northern Network for Medical Humanities


Undergraduate Teaching

SEL3356, Madness, Medicine and Modern Literature.

SEL2206, Contemporary Cultures

SEL1023, Transformations.


Postgraduate Teaching

SEL8539, Mind, Body, Affect

MA Research Matters: 'Affect Theory'

Thinking Theories and Methods: 'Medical Humanities'.


External Examining

From 2011-2014, Anne was appointed as external examiner for the undergraduate degree programmes in English Literature at Cardiff University.

She is currently acting as external examiner for undergraduate degree programmes in English Literature at Bristol University (2016-20).