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
Theses and dissertation supervision (Papyrus Institutional Repository)
The Effect of Collective Psychology on the Mistreatment of Nineteenth-Century Women in Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre and Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper"
Cycle : Master's
Grade : M.A.
Cycle : Doctoral
Grade : Ph. D.
Re-Imagining Illness: The British Woman Writer's Medical Knowledge, 1660-1820
Petticoat Doctors and their Pens: The Medical Knowledge of Eighteenth-Century Women Writers
L'HYSTERIE, LA MATERNITE ET LA PROFESSION DE FEMME DE LETTRES EN GRANDE-BRETAGNE AU DIX-HUITIEME SIECLE
Publications and presentations
- “Medicine and Health.” Samuel Richardson in Context. Ed. Peter Sabor and Betty Schellenberg. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017. 264-71.
- “‘[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.
- “Frances Burney’s Mastectomy Narrative and Discourses of Breast Cancer in the Long Eighteenth Century.” Literature and Medicine 35.1 (Spring 2017): 27-45.
- “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.
- “An ‘imperfect’ Model of Authorship in Dorothy Wordsworth’s Grasmere Journal.” Authorship 4.2 (Fall 2015): 1-13.
- “Medical Men, Women of Letters, and Treatments for Eighteenth-Century Hysteria.” Journal of Medical Humanities 34.1 (March 2013): 1-14.
- “‘[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.
- “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.
- “Medical Women and Hysterical Doctors: Interpreting Hysteria’s Symptoms.” The English Malady: Enabling and Disabling Fictions. Ed. Glen Colburn. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2008. 223-47.
- Women Studies
- Literary Studies
Areas of expertise
- 18th Century Literature
- Women's Writing
- History of medicine
- Literature and Medicine
- Women's Studies
- Gender studies