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Social Sciences and Humanities; Arts and Literature; Literature and Languages; Humanities; Medical Sciences

Heather Meek

Professeure agrégée

Faculté des arts et des sciences - Département de littératures et de langues du monde

Pavillon Lionel-Groulx, room C8118

514 343-6239


Research expertise

Heather Meek’s research interests include women’s writing, medical treatises, and the intersections of literature and medicine. Much of her published work looks at the subject of eighteenth-century hysteria by examining contemporaneous medical texts and first-hand accounts by women writers who themselves suffered from the condition. She has written on the ways that hysteria is at once a veritable illness, an elusive cultural condition, an intellectual affliction, and a vehicle for feminist thought. Her current project, funded by a SSHRC Insight grant (2019-2023), explores the medical knowledge of a group of eighteenth-century women writers and considers medical and literary understandings of conditions ranging from melancholy, hysteria, and madness; to chlorosis, pregnancy, and childhood illness; to smallpox, consumption, and breast cancer.

Affiliations and responsabilities

Teaching and supervision

Student supervision

Theses and dissertation supervision (Papyrus Institutional Repository)


Research projects

2020 - 2025

Les études culturelles et littéraires sur La planétarité: Pratiques, épistémologies, et pédagogies transformatrices

Lead researcher : Heike Harting
Funding sources: FRQSC/Fonds de recherche du Québec - Société et culture (FQRSC)
Grant programs: PVXXXXXX-(SE) Programme Soutien aux équipes de recherche - Stade de développement : Nouvelle équipe
2019 - 2024

Re-Imagining Illness: The British Woman Writer's Medical Knowledge, 1660-1820

Lead researcher : Heather Meek
Funding sources: CRSH/Conseil de recherches en sciences humaines du Canada
Grant programs: PVXXXXXX-Subvention Savoir
2018 - 2021

Petticoat Doctors and their Pens: The Medical Knowledge of Eighteenth-Century Women Writers

Lead researcher : Heather Meek
Funding sources: CRSH/Conseil de recherches en sciences humaines du Canada
Grant programs: PVX20020-Subvention institutionnelle du CRSH - Subventions d'exploration
2014 - 2018


Lead researcher : Heather Meek
Funding sources: FRQSC/Fonds de recherche du Québec - Société et culture (FQRSC)
Grant programs: PV113813-(NP) Soutien à la recherche pour la relève professorale


Publications and presentations



  • Reimagining Illness: Women Writers and Medicine in Eighteenth-Century Britain. Montreal; Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2023.
  • Planetary Health Humanities and Pandemics (co-edited with Heike Härting). New York: Routledge, 2024 (forthcoming). 

Articles de revue

  • “‘Meanders of [the] Purple Flood’: Blood and Bloodletting in Eighteenth-Century Literature and Medicine.” Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies (JECS) 46.1 (2023): 41-57. doi:
  • “A ‘prodigious latitude’ of Words: Vocabularies of Illness in 18th-Century Medical Treatises and Women’s Writing.” BMJ: Medical Humanities 48.2 (2022): 253-60. doi: 10.1136/medhum-2020-012133
  • “Frances Burney’s Mastectomy Narrative and Discourses of Breast Cancer in the Long Eighteenth Century.” Literature and Medicine 35.1 (Spring 2017): 27-45. doi: 10.1353/lm.2017.0001
  • “Medical Men, Women of Letters, and Treatments for Eighteenth-Century Hysteria.” Journal of Medical Humanities 34.1 (March 2013): 1-14.
  • “Creative Hysteria and the Intellectual Woman of Feeling.” Figures et culture de la dépression (1660-1800)/The Representation and Culture of Depression (1660-1800). Vol. 1. Spec. issue of Le Spectateur européen/The European Spectator: 10 (2010): 87-98.
  • “Of Wandering Wombs and Wrongs of Women: Evolving Conceptions of Hysteria in the Age of Reason.” English Studies in Canada 35.2-3 (June/September 2009): 105-28.

Chapitres de livres

  • “Jane Barker, Medical Discourse, and the Rise of the Novel.” Literature and Medicine: The Eighteenth Century. Volume 1. Ed. Clark Lawlor and Andrew Mangham. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2021. 51-69. doi:
  • “Medicine and Health.” Samuel Richardson in Context. Ed. Peter Sabor and Betty Schellenberg. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017. 264-71. doi:
  • “‘[F]ictitious [D]istress’ or Veritable Woe?: The Problem of Eighteenth-Century Ennui.” Disease and Death in Eighteenth-Century Literature and Culture: Fashioning the Unfashionable. Ed. Allan Ingram and Leigh Wetherall-Dickson. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2017. 13-31. doi:
  • “Motherhood, Hysteria, and the Eighteenth-Century Woman Writer.” The Secrets of Generation: Reproduction in the Long Eighteenth Century. Ed. Raymond Stephanson and Darren Wagner. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2015. 238-57. 
  • “‘[W]hat fatigues we fine ladies are fated to endure’: Sociosomatic Hysteria as a Female ‘English Malady.’” Diseases of the Imagination and Imaginary Disease in the Early Modern Period. Ed. Yasmin Haskell. Early European Research 1200-1650 Series. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols Publishing, 2011. 375-96.


  • Women Studies
  • Literary Studies
  • Literature
  • History

Areas of expertise

  • 18th Century Literature
  • Women's Writing
  • History of medicine
  • Literature and Medicine
  • Women's Studies
  • Gender studies