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 Earl Grey Memorial Postdoctoral Fellow at Newcastle from 1997-1999 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, 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 is currently module leader for the stage 3 Dissertation module as well as contributing a unit on literature and biopolitics to a team-taught stage 2 undergraduate module on contemporary cultures. She is also module leader for the stage 1 undergraduate module Transformations.

At postgraduate level, Anne contributes to the MA research methods training module and offers a seminar on medical humanities on the Faculty doctoral training programme. She also contributes to a medical humanities workshop co-delivered by Durham and Newcastle Universities as part of the Northern Bridge Doctoral Training Partnership.   

Management Roles

In 2019-20, Anne is 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. 






Current Work

Framed through the concept of the life course, discussion of a good life and a good death is usually premised on the assumption of longevity. How might we define a good life and a good death in earliest life mortality, when life ends even as it begins?

Anne is the recipient of a seed award from the Wellcome funded Northern Network for Medical Humanities Research and she will be working with Judith Rankin, Nicholas Embleton, Simon Woods and Marianne Wilde, and in collaboration with the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle, to host a workshop that opens up a conversation on these questions.

Anne has also received a Pioneer Award, funded by the Newcastle University Humanities Research Institute, to collaborate with artist Marianne Wilde in the co-creation of an artist's book, in conversation with parents who have experienced neonatal loss in multiple pregnancies.       

External Funding

Northern Network for Medical Humanities Research Seed Award, supported by the Wellcome Trust (PI) - 'Defining a Good Life and a Good Death in Earliest Life Mortality: A Workshop' (2019-20)   

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).

Recent Talks

'The View from Prospect Cottage: Derek Jarman's Queer Ecology', Cultures of Toxicity, University of Warwick, November 2019.

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

'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.

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

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


Doctoral Experience

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

Anne is currently the supervisor of the critical component of Toby Martinez de las Rivas's AHRC funded project, 'Sacred Agonies: Pain, Salvation and the Suffering Body'. The creative component is supervised by Sinead Morrissey and Sean O'Brien.  Toby is the recipient of the 2019-20 Renwick Scholarship, which funds a two-week residency at the British School of Rome.

Anne has supervised fourteen doctoral students to completion, nine of whom have been funded by the AHRC. She has been an external examiner of PhDs at the University of York, Sheffield University, Durham University, University of St Andrews, Stirling University, Royal Holloway, Vaasa University in Finland, and Monarch University in Perth, Australia. 


External Assessorships

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


Editorial Boards and Professional Memberships  

AHRC Peer Review College (2017-2020)

Editorial board for the Journal of Trauma and Literature.

Steering committee, Northern Network for Medical Humanities Research 

Coordinating Committee, Medical Humanities Network, Newcastle University


Undergraduate Teaching

SEL3362, English Literature Dissertation (module leader and supervisor)

SEL3364/5, Extended Essay I and II (module leader, supervisor and lecturer)

SEL2206, Contemporary Cultures (lecturer and seminar leader)

SEL1023, Transformations.(module leader and lecturer)


Postgraduate Teaching

MA Research Matters: 'Affect Theory' (MA in English Literature)

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

Interdisciplinary Critical Medical Humanities Research and its Applications: 'Sensitive Subjects' (Doctoral Training Programme, Northern Bridge Doctoral Training Partnership, Durham University and Newcastle University)  


External Examining

Cardiff University (2011-2014), Bristol University (2016-20).