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Staff Profile

Dr Helen Pleasance

Senior Lecturer


I teach on modules: Writing to Order; Varieties of Writing: Prose; Writing Reality; MA in Creative Writing.

I hold a BA (First Class) in English in the School of Cultural and Community Studies from the University of Sussex; an MA (Distinction) in Cultural Studies from the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies at the University of Birmingham; an MA (Distinction) in Creative Writing and PhD in Creative and Critical Writing from Manchester Metropolitan University. She has previously taught Literature, Critical and Cultural Theory and Creative Writing at the University of Birmingham, the University of Derby and the Open University.

Research Interests

I am currently working on a memoir/history hybrid, Ghosts on the Hill, and an academic article about the Moors murders and the poetics of working-class decency, both based on her PhD research into the Moors murders. I am also researching a short story collection, From Peterloo to Primark, which aims to use fiction to provide an historical imaginary map of Manchester.

My other research interests include: creative non-fiction and the borders between fiction and non-fiction; photography and (particularly women's) embodied identity; popular culture; archival research and memory.




‘Ghosts of the Real: The Spectral Memoir’, Determining the Form: Creative Non-Fiction Journeys, ed. by Micaela Maftei and Laura Tansley (Canterbury: Gylphi, 2015).

‘The Very Documented Life of Myra Hindley’, The Documents of Life Revisited, ed. by Liz Stanley (Farnham: Ashgate, 2013) ISBN: 978-1-4094-4289-9.

‘Lost Children, the Moors & Evil Monsters: the photographic story of the Moors murders’, Image [&] Narrative Vol. 12 no. 4. Autumn 2011.

‘Nursery Rhymes for Uncertain Times’ (short story), Stilled Lives, ed. by Jonathan Carson and Rosie Miller (Manchester: The Righton Press, 2009)

‘Open or Closed: Popular Magazines and Dominant Culture’, Off-Centre: Feminism and Cultural Studies, ed. by Sarah Franklin, Celia Lury and Jackie Stacey (London: Routledge, 1991).


Conference Papers


'Between the Over-determined and the Unknowable: dislocating the biographical subject' and 'Photography, Female Identity and the Celebrity Body', both at Beyond the Subject, International Auto/biographical Association Europe conference (Ludwig Boltzmann Institut, Vienna, 31 October-3 November, 2013)

'A Map of Manchester from Peterloo to Primark: how to live with the history of the Industrial Revolution in the 21st Century', at Unofficial Histories (Manchester Metropolitan University, 15 June, 2013)

‘A Strange Place: Creative Writing in the Academy’ at the Higher Education Academy’s Teaching Post-Millennial Literature Symposium (University of Brighton, 2 July 2012)

‘Gorging: a summer spent trying to understand the excesses and regulations of the female body in celebrity magazines’ at the British Sociological Association Auto/Biography Study Group Christmas Conference on Celebrity (British Library, 16 December 2011)

‘“The Beast! Tramp!” The Expulsion of Myra Hindley from Working Class Culture’ at The Monster inside Us, The Monsters around Us: Monstrosity and Humanity (De Montfort University, 18-20 November 2011)

‘The Very Documented Life of Myra Hindley’ at The Documents of Life Revisited! (University of Edinburgh, 20 May 2011)

‘An Intimate Gaze: Seeing and Knowing Evil’, at Intimate Publics, the 7th Biennial International Auto/Biographical Association Conference (University of Sussex, 28 June-1 July 2010)

‘Ghosts of the Real: The Spectral Memoir’ at Determining Form: Creative Non-Fiction Journeys (University of Glasgow, 11 and 12 June 2010)

‘Lost Children, the Moors and Evil Monsters: the Photographic Story of the Moors Murders’ at The Story of Things (Manchester Metropolitan University, 29 January 2010)

‘It’s The Photograph That Did It: an attempt to understand the peculiar cultural presence of Myra Hindley’ at History, Mystery, Myth (University of East Anglia, 14 November 2009)