Dr Harry Whitehead

Associate Professor of Creative Writing

School/Department: Arts, School of





I am a novelist and Associate Professor of Creative Writing in the School of Arts. I also direct the university’s contemporary literatures research centre, The Centre for New Writing, and the university’s annual free literature festival, Literary Leicester.

My novel, The Cannibal Spirit (Penguin), a work of literary historical fiction set among the First Peoples of Canada at the turn of the twentieth century, has been described as 'powerful, brave, ambitious' (The Globe & Mail), 'a thriller with a Joseph Conradian plot' (The Walrus), 'a unique work, compelling, complex, thought-provoking and impressive' (Quill & Quire). I have also published extensively on the research that went into the novel’s construction.

I have been awarded funding from the Arts Council and the Wingate Scholarships. I was Eccles Centre Literary Fellow in North American Studies at the British Library in 2017, which offered me the opportunity to conduct research for my novel, The White Road, currently being marketed by my agent, Isobel Dixon, of Blake Friedmann. The White Road is a literary “cli-fi” thriller about an oil rig that blows up in the High Arctic just as winter begins.

I have been principal editor of the National Association of Writers in Education’s peer-reviewed journal Writing in Practice, and sat for many years on its Higher Education committee. I have published literary reviews, and short fiction in a variety of contemporary genres, as well as academic papers in the fields of creative writing theory; anthropology & history; memory, nostalgia and identity; Native North American & Canadian history and ethnography; and psychoanalysis.

Before moving into academia, I worked for many years in senior film and TV production roles with major film directors including Ridley Scott, Tony Gilroy, Spike Lee, Roman Polanski and many more. I have been a director of a home for disturbed children and successfully founded and managed my own businesses in the Far East.


My current research is on two fronts: 1) the comparative history of Soviet creative writing programmes in Russia, Germany and Vietnam, partly as a vehicle for more deeply understanding cultural bias in the teaching and theory of Anglophone ‘Western’ creative writing as an academic subject. This leads to my broader interests in decolonising the subject; 2) climate change, and how the creative writing can aid the dissemination of scientific discourses on the subject.



The Cannibal Spirit (Toronto: Penguin, 2011).

Some Peer-Reviewed Articles

‘The Programmatic Era: Creative Writing as Cultural Imperialism,’ Ariel Special Edition: ‘Experimental Writing in a Globalising Era’, April 2016.

'The Hunt for Quesalid: Tracking Lévi-Strauss’ Shaman,’ Anthropology and Medicine Vol. 7, No. 2 August 2000, pp. 149-168.

Some Book Chapters

‘Quest for Quesalid: Myth-Making and Rationality in the Initiation of a Shaman’, in The Apothecary’s Chest: Magic, Art and Medication, edited by Georganta (Cambridge: CSP 2009) pp. 129-144.

'Practice at Large: How Creative Writing can Enhance University Research Environments,' with Corinne Fowler. English: Shares Futures, edited by Robert Eaglestone and Gail Marshall. Cambridge: D.S. Brewer. 2018 pps. 171-180.

'Nomadic Emergence: Creative Writing Theory and Practice-Led Research,' in New Ideas for the Writing Arts: Practice, Culture, Literature, edited by Graeme Harper (Cambridge: CSP,2013) pp. 95-113.

Some Short Fiction

'Glitter Is Always An Option,' Cent Magazine, October 2018

'Ringtone', in London Lies, edited by Cherry Potts (London: Arachne Press, 2012), pp.81-87.

‘Sharp’, Hags, Harlots and Heroines September 2010. (2nd place in Virago Publishing’s ‘Short Fiction for Women’ competition, 2007). [accessed 3 May 2010]

‘Black Amex and Chop’, Whimperbang Vol. 10, 2007. [accessed 1 October 2015]


I have supervised numerous PhDs to completion. I am interested in supervising creative writing fiction, and possibly screenwriting (given my background in film production and story consultancy) although you will have to evidence professional experience in the industry. I am interested in all aspects of fiction, but with my background in anthropology, I particularly enjoy projects that cross boundaries; also those that connect to my own research interests.


I teach UG modules: 1st year ‘Introduction to Writing Creatively’, 2nd year EN2070 ‘Using Stories’ and EN2080 ‘Advanced Creative Writing Skills’, 3rd year EN3174 ‘Writing Prose Fiction’, EN3178 ‘Reading and Writing Climate Change Fiction’ and EN3175 ‘Understanding Screenplays’.

I teach MA modules: EN7040 ‘Research Methods in Creative Writing’, EN7041 ‘Styles’, EN7042 ‘Applications’, EN7043 ‘Substances’, EN7135 ‘Writing Fiction’ and EN7044 ‘Creative Writing Dissertation.’

Press and media

I have given public lectures on diverse subjects, from arctic oil to creative writing craft and much more. As director of Literary Leicester I often speak to the media on a variety of related subjects.

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