Northern Centre for the History of Medicine and Medical Humanities

Anne Whitehead

Tel: +44 (0) 191 208 3531

School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne


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. 

HaSS Faculty representative on the Postgraduate Sub Committee of the University Learning and Teaching Student Experience Committee (PGR-ULTSEC).

Feedback and Consultation Hours

Mondays 11-1; Thursdays 4-5


Research Interests

I specialise in modern and contemporary literature and critical theory, working particularly across memory studies, trauma studies, conflict studies, and the medical humanities.

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.

In conflict studies, I have recently completed a project funded by the Catherine Cookson Foundation that draws on the potential of shared reading to generate discussion and debate at the centenary of the First World War. The project, completed with doctoral student Marie Stern-Peltz, produced a reading guide that covers key fictions relating to the First World War and its legacy, and hosted a number of reading events with local communities. The 60 page reading guide, Beyond Shell Shock: Care, Trauma and the First World War in British Fiction, is available for download here.   

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 welcome enquiries from those interested in pursuing postgraduate research at Masters, doctoral or post-doctoral level in the following areas: postwar British fiction; trauma and literature; literature and memory/forgetting; memory, forgetting and the archive; (post) conflict literatures; medicine, health and modern literature.

I have supervised eight successfully completed PhDs - five of which were funded by the AHRC - on the following topics: 'Representing the Holocaust in American Women's Fiction' (2006); 'Towards Decolonisation in the Fiction of J. M. Coetzee' (2009); 'Wordsworth and the Origins of Trauma in Literature' (2009); 'The Contemporary Women's Middlebrow Novel' (2011); 'Atrocity, Culpability and Failures of Witnessing in W. G. Sebald and Kazuo Ishiguro' (2013);  'A Benjaminian Interpretation of Drama and the Dramatic in Samuel Taylor Coleridge's Writings' (2014); 'Literary and Filmic Representations of Political Torture from Algiers to Guantanamo' (2014); 'Psychoanalysis, Self Identity and Affect - A Creative and Critical Exploration (2014). All have passed with no or minor corrections.   

I am currently supervising five PhD projects - four of which are funded by the AHRC - on the following topics: 'The Politics of Negotiation, Memory and the Archive: Reconstructing the Military Service Tribunal'; 'Coming of Age and the First World War in Contemporary Fiction after 1989'; 'The Postcolonial in Italy, Italy in the Postcolonial'; 'Story, empathy and trauma - "Red in the Half Light of Winter"'; 'Female experience and war trauma in Cypriot children's literature since 1974' .

Doctoral Examining

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

Invited papers/lectures
University of Zaragoza (2015); Edinburgh University (2013); 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).


Catherine Cookson Foundation (2013-2014); 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 on the steering group for the Northern Network for Medical Humanities Research, and I am a member of the research network War-Net, the Northern Theory School, and the Irish Memory Studies Network.

Engagement Activities

  • In Conversation with Pat Barker, Insights Public Lecture Series, Newcastle University, October 2014. A recording of the lecture is available here
  • 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). 
  • 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)
  • '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. In 2014-15 I will be co-teaching the module with Dr Robbie McLaughlan.

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 MA in Modern and Contemporary Literature.


  • Whitehead A. Medicine and Empathy in Contemporary British Fiction. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2016. In Preparation.
  • Whitehead A, Woods A, Atkinson S, Macnaughton J, Richards J, ed. The Edinburgh Companion to the Critical Medical Humanities. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2016. In Preparation.
  • Whitehead A. The Medical Humanities: A Literary Perspective. In: Victoria Bates, Alan Bleakley, and Samuel Goodman, ed. Medicine, Health and the Arts: Approaches to the Medical Humanities. London and New York: Routledge, 2014, pp.107-127.
  • Whitehead A. Reading with empathy: Sindiwe Magona's Mother to Mother. Feminist Theory 2012, 13(2), 181-195.
  • Pedwell C, Whitehead A, ed. Affecting Feminism: Questions of Feeling in Feminist Theory (Special issue of Feminist Theory). London: Sage, 2012.
  • Whitehead A. Writing with care: Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go. Contemporary Literature 2011, 52(1), 54-83.
  • Whitehead A. Representing the Child Soldier: Trauma, Postcolonialism and Ethics in Delia Jarrett-Macauley's Moses, Citizen and Me. In: Ganteau, JM; Onega, S, ed. Ethics and Trauma in Contemporary British Fiction. Amsterdam: Rodopi BV, 2011, pp.205-234.
  • Whitehead A. Trauma and Resistance in Art Spiegelman's In the Shadow of No Towers. In: Crownshaw, R; Kilby, J; Rowland, A, ed. The Future of Memory. Oxford: Berghahn, 2010, pp.241-251.
  • Whitehead A. Journeying through hell: Wole Soyinka, trauma, and postcolonial Nigeria. Studies in the Novel 2008, 40(1-2), 13-30.
  • Whitehead A. Memory. London and New York: Routledge, 2008.
  • Whitehead A. The Role of Theories of Memory in Teaching the Holocaust. In: Eaglestone R; Langford B, ed. Teaching Holocaust Literature and Film. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008, pp.37-47.
  • Rossington M, Whitehead A, Contributing eds.: Anderson L, Chedgzoy K, Mukherjee P, Richards J, ed. Theories of Memory: A Reader. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2007.
  • Whitehead A. Tony Harrison, the Gulf War and the poetry of protest. Textual Practice 2005, 19(2), 349-+.
  • Whitehead A. Pat Barker's Regeneration Trilogy. In: Shaffer, B.W, ed. A Companion to the British and Irish Novel 1945-2000. Oxford: Blackwell, 2005, pp.550-561.
  • Whitehead A. Trauma fiction. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2004.
  • Long JJ, Whitehead A. W. G. Sebald - A Critical Companion. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2004.
  • Whitehead A. The past as revenant: Trauma and haunting in Pat Barker's Another World. Critique - Studies in Contemporary Fiction 2004, 45(2), 129-146.
  • Whitehead A. 'Telling Tales: Trauma and Testimony in Binjamin Wilkomirski's Fragments'. Discourse 2003, 25(1 & 2), 119-137.
  • Whitehead A. Geoffrey Hartman and the Ethics of Place: Landscape, Memory, Trauma. European Journal of English Studies 2003, 7(3), 275-292.
  • Whitehead A. A Still, Small Voice: Letter-writing, Testimony and the Project of Address in Etty Hillesum's Letters from Westerbork. Cultural Values 2001, 5(1), 79-96.
  • Rossington M, Whitehead A, ed. Between the Psyche and the Polis: Refiguring History in Literature and Theory. Aldershot and Burlington, Vt: Ashgate, 2000.
  • Whitehead Anne. Refiguring Orpheus: the possession of the past in Ted Hughes' Birthday Letters. Textual Practice, 13 227-241 1999.
  • Anne Whitehead. Open to Suggestion: Hypnosis and History in Pat Barker's Regeneration. Modern Fiction Studies, 44 674-694 1998.





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