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Sarah Spence

 Sarah Spence

PhD candidate



I began work as a PhD researcher in English Literature in 2017. My current project is titled ‘Representations of Stigmatised Health Issues in Scottish Fiction 1979-present’ and is funded by the Wellcome Trust.

I studied English and Scottish Literature at the University of Aberdeen, graduating with a First Class Honours degree in 2015. I was particularly interested in embodiment, posthumanism and animal studies during my undergraduate studies, writing my dissertation on the body and the self in contemporary speculative fiction. I then studied modern and contemporary literature and culture at the University of Glasgow, graduating with MLitt Modernities (Distinction) in 2017. My dissertation examined representations of later life in Margaret Atwood’s short stories. I also wrote on Alzheimer’s disease in contemporary fiction, as well as on smallpox and cholera in Victorian literature.

Outside of my academic studies, I write poetry and short fiction, often on topics of science, history, and our relationship with animals and the 'natural'. I also hold or have held editorial positions on a variety of publications, such as From Glasgow to Saturn (creative writing), eSharp (postgraduate academic journal) and theGIST (science magazine).

Research and Teaching Interests

My PhD project examines stigmatised health issues (drug abuse, mental ill-health, obesity) in contemporary Scottish literature (1979-present), in the context of neoliberalism and the Glasgow Effect. Focusing on narrative, identity and engagement with health discourses, I will explore how contemporary Scottish authors respond to representations of Scotland’s deficient public health.

More broadly I am interested in health inequalities and stigma, as well as illness narratives and the counterdiscursive possibilities of fiction.



  • College of Arts, School of Critical Studies
  • Medical Humanities Research Centre