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Name: Hannah Spruce

Department: English and Centre for American Studies, University of Leicester

Research Area: Contemporary Literary Studies / Women's Writing.

PhD Thesis: Destabilising the Psychopath Narrative through US and Canadian Women's Writing

The project uses contemporary women's writing to unsettle the idea of psychopathy. Organising the thesis through genres where psychopathy tends to crop up in women's writing (speculative, gothic, transgressive, and witness fictions), I consider how women writers contribute to the historic pathologising and dehumanising of women, the lower classes, and people diagnosed with autism. Simultaneously, I contrast these with writers that problematise psychopathy and offer alternative ways of understanding human cruelty and violence.

I write on the following contemporary US and Canadian texts:

  • Maureen Medved's Black Star (2018)
  • Myriam Gurba's MEAN (2017)
  • Katherena Vermette's The Break (2016)
  • Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones (2002)
  • Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake (2003) and MaddAddam (2013)
  • Gillian's Flynn's Gone Girl (2012)
  • Lionel Shriver's We Need to Talk About Kevin (2003)
  • Tricia Sullivan's Maul (2003)
  • Elizabeth Moon's Speed of Dark (2002)
  • Joyce Carol Oates' Zombie (1995)



  • 'The Revolutionary Chora in Seamus Heaney's Kite Poetry', Estudios Irlandeses, 11, 2016, 213-219.

Book Reviews:

  • 'Book Review: Posthuman Urbanism: Mapping Bodies in Contemporary Space by Debra Benita Shaw', LSE: Review of Books. May 15, 2018. 
  • 'Book Review: TransCanadian Feminist Fictions: New Cross-Border Ethics by Libe García Zarranz', LSE: Review of Books, August 17, 2018.  

Conference Papers: 

  • 'Coming to Terms with the Sociopathic Child: Existentialism, Evil, and Boredom in Lionel Shriver’s We Need to Talk About Kevin', Evil Children: Children and Evil, Verona, Italy, July 14-16, 2019. 
  • 'Disrupting the Conflation of Autism and Psychopathy in Margaret Atwood's Speculative Fiction', Current Research in Speculative Fiction, Conference Paper, University of Liverpool, June 29, 2018.

Scholarly Activities:

  • Managing Editor (Production) at the Journal of Language, Texts, and Society, a postgraduate journal based at the University of Nottingham (2018–2019).
  • Co-organisor/Conference Chair for Midlands4Cities-funded conference: 'New Perspectives on Politics, Freedom, and Democracy' held at Stamford Court, Leicester, May 10, 2019 & Midlands3Cities and Rights Lab funded Human Rights Conference 2018 held at University of Birmingham, July 20, 2018. 
  • Founder and host of The Book Club, a fortnightly public reading group based at The GreenHouse, a co-working space in Leeds. 

Professional Memberships: 

  • Member of the British Association for American Studies (BAAS). 
  • Member of the Modern Language Association (MLA).
  • Member of the British Association for Contemporary Literary Studies (BACLS)

Research Interests:

  • Contemporary Literature 
  • Canadian Literature
  • US Literature
  • Women's Writing
  • Margaret Atwood
  • Speculative fiction
  • Medical Humanities (especially, ageing, autism, psychopathy)

Twitter: @hspruce 

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