Sarah Spence

email -

Research title: Representations of Stigmatised Health Issues in Scottish fiction 1979-present

Research Summary

My project examines stigmatised health issues (mental ill-health / madness, addiction / drug use, obesity / fatness) in contemporary Scottish literature (1979-present), in the context of neoliberalism and the Glasgow Effect.

Scotland is often associated with bad health. This is especially significant in the context of welfare cuts and healthcare privatisation, which position health as the responsibility, or indeed failure, of the individual.

However, cultural conceptions of health issues are not based solely on science: they are charged with social, moral, legal and political meanings. Fiction articulates, critiques and disseminates these competing meanings. 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.



Grants & Awards

  • Wellcome Trust, 2017-2020, stipend, research expenses and tuition fees, medical humanities doctoral studentship


  • English Literature 1A, Poetry and Poetics