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Hannah Spruce

Languages and Literature, University of Leicester

Thesis title:

Destabilising the Psychopath Narrative through Contemporary North American Women�s Writing

My doctoral research examines twelve diverse contemporary Canadian and US texts that deploy imagery and language associated with psychopathy or portray psychopathic characters. In my dissertation, I explore how psychopath narratives perpetuate harmful stereotypes against Black and Indigenous peoples, people diagnosed with autism and schizophrenia, LGBTQQ+ people, and women or feminised others. I assert that these stereotypes often conceal connections between White, patriarchal, ableist society and structures of violence. As I use fiction to expose how ableism homophobia, racism, and sexism are embedded in psychopath narratives, I compare and contrast harmful tropes with resistant writing by authors who challenge and rewrite tropes of the psychopath narrative to destabilise the often sensationalist representations of psychopathic figures like the ‘psycho bitch’, serial killer, school shooter, or rapist.

Research Area

  • Languages and Literature


Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles 

  • Hannah Spruce, 'The Revolutionary Chora in Seamus Heaney's Kite Poetry', Estudios Irlandeses, Issue 11 (Spring 2016): 213-19. 

Other Publications

  • Blog post on book clubs and academia (title tbc), Contemporary Women's Writing Association Blog, Forthcoming. 
  • 'Zombie', The Literary Encyclopedia, June 17, 2021.
  • 'Book Review: Shapes of Native Nonfiction: Collected Essays by Contemporary Writers, edited by Elissa Washuta and Theresa Warburton', C21: Journal of 21st Century Writings, vol. 8, no. 1 (2020): doi: https://doi.org/10.16995/c21.1997
  • 'Book Review: TransCanadian Feminist Fictions: New Cross-Border Ethics, by Libe García Zarranz', LSE: Review of Books, August 17, 2018. 
  • 'Book Review: Posthuman Urbanism: Mapping Bodies in Contemporary Space by Debra Benita Shaw', LSE: Review of Books. May 15, 2018. 


  • 'Bearing Creative Witness to Anti-Indigenous Racism in Katherena Vermette's The Break', Contemporary Women Writing Race: Textual Interventions and Intersections Symposium, Contemporary Women's Writing Association, Virtual Conference, September 10, 2021. 
  • 'Myriam Gurba's Mean and the Feminist Rewriting of True Crime', Postgraduate Network of Contemporary Women's Writing, University of Hull, September 9. 2019.
  • 'Creative/Critical Response to Existentialism and Evil 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, University of Liverpool, June 29, 2018.
  • 'Portraying Psychopathy in the Clinical Tale', Modern and Contemporary Forum, University of Birmingham, March 21, 2018. 

Public Engagement & Impact

  • Workshop Leader: 'Reading Contemporary Poetry: Kathereena Vermette's North End Love Songs', the Greenhouse, Leeds, March 20, 2020 (2 hours). 
  • Coordinator: Nonfiction Book Club, 'Bookish', held monthly in Leeds (Jan. 12, 2019 to present). 
  • Managing Editor (2018–19) of Journal of Languages, Texts, and Society, a postgraduate journal based at the University of Nottingham. Responsible for producing Issue 3 (Spring 2019) of the journal and organising the annual journal conference.
  • Lead Conference Coordinator / Session Chair: Interventions: New Perspectives on Politics, Freedom and Democracy held at Stamford Court, Leicester, March 10, 2019. 
  • Session Chair / Conference co-cordinator (Expenses/Website): Human Rights in the 21st Century: Developing Rights in a Developing World, University of Birmingham, July 20, 2018. 

Other Research Interests

  • Contemporary Women's Writing
  • Contemporary literary studies and fiction (C21)
  • American and Canadian Studies
  • Feminist theory and literary criticism
  • Textual innovations in crime genres (e.g., true crime, hardboiled, procedural)
  • Literary and/or feminist representations of violence and offenders
  • Representations of neurodiversity in literature (esp. autism)
  • Indigenous writing in Canada and the US 
  • Speculative/science fictions


  • Contemporary Women's Writing Association (CWWA)
  • British Association for Contemporary Literary Studies (BACLS)

Teaching Experience

Part Time Lecturer, Leeds Beckett University (Jan 4, 2021 –)

Taught on: 

  • The Gothic: Literature, Culture, Theory (Level 6)
  • Academic skills (Level 6)
  • Poetry (Level 4)
  • Postcolonial Writing (Level 5)

Secondary Education Tutor, The Tutor Trust. 

  • Provided small group tuition on English literature and Language curriculum (AQA) to KS4 pupils. (May-July 2021).

Scholars Programme Tutor, The Brilliant Club

  • Designed and led university-style module based on doctoral research for key stage five students at a non-selective state school in Yorkshire (November 2020 – January 2021). 

Associate Lecturer, Sheffield Hallam University

  • Online Writing Development – provided asynchronous feedback on assignment drafts for students on the English Literature undergraduate course to develop academic writing style, expression, and structure for assessment purposes (March 16 – April 20, 2020).

Workshops and Training

  • Preparing to Teach in Higher Education, University of Leicester, (6.5 hours), September 16-18, 2019
  • Writing Retreat, Royal Literary Fund, College Court, Leicester, May 11-18, 2019
  • Adobe InDesign Training, Nottingham Web Studies, May 1-2, 2018
  • 1968 Workshop, University of Leicester, May 4, 2018
  • Designing Posters for Research, University of Nottingham, April 18, 2018
  • Doctoral Induction Day: 20th and 21st Century Collections, British Library, February 16, 2018