Veronica Heney

PhD Student

About me

Following an English and History BA at the University of Oxford, I worked from 2015-2017 in the Social Sciences Applied to Healthcare Improvement Research group (SAPPHIRE) at the University of Leicester as a Communications and Academic Writing Assistant, and also took on a role helping the Department of Health Sciences complete an Athena SWAN application. While in Leicester I also held a volunteer role as a communications assistant for Pride Without Borders, a group which provides support for local LGBT refugees and asylum seekers. I completed my Gender Studies MA at the University of Sussex in September 2018, which included dissertation research taking an interdisciplinary approach to gendered medical professionalism. During my time at Sussex I was also fortunate to work with Dr Catherine Will on an engagement project around statins and decision-making and to work with the university’s I Heart Consent Campaign, delivering consent workshops to students..


My research

Self-harm is very common within the population, but is only rarely represented in fictional media such as novels, television, and films. Moreover, within those representations that are available, the presentation of self-harm is often stereotypical or limited. This makes the topic of and narratives about self-harm a particularly interesting and important site for the study of the relationship between stories and experiences. This project therefore will examine which cultural representations of self-harm in literature, film, and television are currently available to people in the UK who self-harm, and how those individuals experience or understand those representations, particularly in relation to their own self-harm and how they might discuss their self-harm. The project will particularly explore how these representations and their interpretation are impacted by gender, race, class, and sexuality.

These questions will be explored through an interview study with 20-30 people with experience of self-harm, and through analysis of the various texts discussed in those interviews. The project’s research questions, methods, and analysis have been and will be agreed upon in discussion with an advisory group made up of people with experience of self-harm, exploring how co-production and engaged research might be relevant within Literary Studies.

You can find out more about the interview study, and about what it would mean to be involved with the study, here:

In September 2019 I discussed my research and the topic of narratives of self-harm at a Time to Change event held on World Mental Health Day. If you’re interested in my research you can watch the presentation back here:



Heney, V. – Book Review: Why Do We Hurt Ourselves?: Understanding Self-harm in Social Life and Self-injury, Medicine and Society: Authentic Bodies The Sociological Review (September 2019)
Heney, V. – The Interpretive Difficulties of Self-Harm in “Sharp Objects” Cost of Living (October 2018)


Contact me

Twitter: @VeronicaHeney




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