Dr Mari Hughes-Edwards

Senior Lecturer in English Literature

Department of English, History & Creative Writing


Currently at Edge Hill University, I have taught at the universities of York, Manchester, Liverpool, Liverpool John Moores, and, most recently, at the University of Salford, where I lectured in Contemporary British Poetry.

I gained my BA in English Literature, my MA (with Distinction) from Bristol University, and was awarded my PhD by the University of York.

Love Lust Loss front coverThe main focus of my academic research/publications is on gender and sexuality. Originally a medievalist by training, my published work now focuses equally on contemporary British Literature and I have particular research interests in the poetic work of Carol Ann Duffy and Lee Harwood and in the fictions of Susan Hill, Hilary Mantel and Sarah Waters.

I was appointed to the Peer Review College for the Arts and Humanities Research Council in 2016 and am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.  My books include a study of medieval anchoritic ideology from c.1080 to c.1500 (University of Wales Press, 2012) and the first full-length monograph on the complete poetic works of the Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy (forthcoming for Manchester University Press), a project for which I was awarded a British Academy Grant.

I also won the British Academy Conference Scheme in 2019, and convened the first ever conference on the first female Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy: https://www.thebritishacademy.ac.uk/events/carol-ann-duffy-legacy-laureateship

I have also written for the national press, including the Guardian, the Times Higher Education Supplement and The Conversation.  My media appearances include work for Channel 4 and I have hosted two television series: ‘About Books’ and ‘52%’ for Bay TV.

At Edge Hill I supervise doctoral and master’s level work on gender, sexuality and contemporary British literature. I am also the chair of GenSex, an international Gender and Sexuality Research Group. I lead artdoesnotgetyouajob: an arts resilience network, launched at The Poetry Society, Covent Garden, in 2019.  It supports those looking to establish and sustain viable careers in the wider arts.  My undergraduate teaching is primarily focused on Contemporary English Literature and on the literature of the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

Research Interests

  • Contemporary British literature and culture, especially poetry.
  • Medieval/Renaissance literature and culture, especially anchoritism.
  • Critical & cultural theory, including trauma studies, gender, sexuality & feminisms.
  • Sexuality, suffering, spirituality, space.
  • Women’s writing and the development of female authorship.


Reading Medieval AnchoritismMonographs

  • ‘Love, Lust, Loss’: The Poetry of Carol Ann Duffy (Manchester: Manchester University Press, forthcoming 2020).
  • Reading Medieval Anchoritism: Ideology and Spiritual Practices (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2012).

Book Chapters

  • ‘“Better a prison than a madhouse!”: Incarceration and the Neo-Victorian Fictions of Sarah Waters’, in Sarah Waters and Contemporary Feminisms, ed. by Adele Jones and Claire O’Callaghan (London: Palgrave MacMillan, 2016), pp. 133-151.
  • ‘The Role of the Anchoritic Guidance Writer: Goscelin of St. Bertin’ in Anchoritism in the Middle Ages: Texts and Traditions, ed. by Catherine Innes-Parker & Naoë Kukita Yoshikawa (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2013), pp. 31-45.
  • ‘Anchoritism: the English Tradition’ in Anchoritic Traditions of Medieval Europe, ed. by Liz Herbert McAvoy (Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, 2010), pp. 131-152.
  • Lee Harwood‘ “…love and other obsessions”: Lee Harwood and the Poetry of Desire’ in The Salt Companion to Lee Harwood, ed. by Robert Sheppard (Cambridge: Salt Publications, 2007), pp. 127-152
  • ‘ “The house … has cancer”: Representations of Domestic Space in the Poetry of Carol Ann Duffy’ in Our House: Representations of Domestic Space in Modern Culture, ed. by G. Smyth & J. Croft (Amsterdam: Rodopi Press, 2006), pp. 121-139.
  • ‘ “Wrapt as if to the third heaven’: Gender and Contemplative Experience in Late-Medieval Anchoritic Guidance Writing’ in Anchorites, Wombs and Tombs: Intersections of Gender and Enclosure in the Middle Ages, ed. by Liz Herbert McAvoy and Mari Hughes-Edwards (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2005), pp. 131-141.

Anchorites, Wombs and TombsEdited Collections

  • Liz Herbert McAvoy and Mari Hughes-Edwards, eds., Anchorites, Wombs and Tombs: Intersections of Gender and Enclosure in the Middle Ages, (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2005), pp. 226.

Journal Articles

  • ‘ “How good it is to be alone”? Sociability, Solitude & Medieval English Anchoritism’, Mystics Quarterly 35 (2009), 31-61.
  • ‘Hedgehog Skins and Hairshirts: The Changing Role of Asceticism in the Anchoritic Ideal’, Mystics Quarterly, 28 (2002), 6-26.

Book Reviews, General Writing & Writing for the Press


Teaching AwardsI have taught the literatures of all periods from Anglo-Saxon to the present day. My specific research-led teaching specialisms include: critical and cultural theory (especially gender and feminist theory), sexuality, the body, enclosure, and space (particularly in domestic space in urban culture). At Edge Hill University I teach primarily medieval / Renaissance, and Contemporary Literature and was recently chosen, by our students, as the winner of one of the university’s teaching awards.

Public Appearances


Selected Keynote Papers, Invited Talks, Public Appearances and Conference Organisation

  • (2019): The British Academy, convenor & speaker at ‘Carol Ann Duffy: the Legacy of the Laureateship’ conference.  As conference creator & convenor, I opened the conference.  My own paper on Duffy’s work from 1973-now,  was entitled: ‘…we cannot pray’: the faithful faithless laureate.  I also gave the conference closing address & chaired the final session on the future of British poetry.
  • (2019): Invited to open the North Liverpool Academy Arts Festival as convenor of the arts resilience group artdoesnotgetyouajob.
  • (2018): Creator of British Academy/Festival of Ideas event, ‘Gender & Modernity’, with Fellow of the British Academy, Professor Anne Phillips, Graham Wallas Professor of Political Science, LSE. After Prof Phillips’ lecture, we discussed women’s education & political advancement before I chaired the Q&A.
  • (2018): Invited to participate in Q&A after the premiere performance of a play, vessel, by Sue MacLaine that was partly based on my medieval monograph, Reading Medieval Anchoritism.
  • (2018): Invited Chair & interviewer of Sol Papdopolous, Director & CEO of Hurricane Films about his biopic on Emily Dickinson in collaboration with ICE. See https://www.edgehill.ac.uk/events/2018/05/17/film-screening-my-letter-to-the-world
  • (2018): Invited Keynote speaker at the International Symposium on St Joseph, at The National Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham. My paper was entitled: ‘St Joseph, the anchorite?’
  • (2016). Invited by Bloomsbury Press & Waterstones to introduce & interview Beryl Bainbridge’s private secretary & biographer, Brendan King, about his new biography of Bainbrige Love by All Sorts of Means. Waterstones, Liverpool 1.
  • (2015).  ‘Medium Managed!: The Hidden Business of Spectrality in the Writing of Hilary Mantel & Caryl Churchill’ at Privileging the Unseen: A One Day Symposium on Hilary Mantel, Manchester Metropolitan University.
  • (2015): Chosen by Waterstones & the Liverpool Playhouse to deliver their official lecture on The Haunting of Hill House to mark its new dramatic adaption by Anthony Neilson.  In 2014 & 2012 I was also invited to lecture for Waterstones on ‘Reading Hurts: The Fifty Shades of Grey Phenomena’ & on ‘The Ghost Stories of Sarah Waters’.
  • (2015): Invited to be the Oldham Books Festival keynote speaker for World Books Night:  ‘Suffering for Our Stories: Fifty Shades’.
  • (2013). ‘Neo-Victorian Incarceration: The Fictions of Sarah Waters’ at The Prison & the Public Conference, Edge Hill University
  • (2012). Keynote Speaker at the eighth annual Medievalism Transformed conference, Bangor University, in conjunction with the Centre for Medieval Studies & the Institute of Medieval & Early Modern Studies. Paper entitled: ‘Reading Women Within Walls: Constructing Medieval Anchoritism’.
  • (2012). Panel Organiser & Lead Speaker of panel entitled: ‘Global (Cyber)Sexualisation in the Twenty-First Century: New Answers, New Questions’, Obscenity Sexual Cultures Conference, Brunel University, London. Paper entitled: ‘ “Debbie got naked for a hat”: Sexualisation & the art of spinning sex secretly’.
  • (2009). ‘”marvellous creatures, transgender sailors, sex-changing fish”: Transgendered Transformation & the Taletelling of Sarah Waters & Cath Nichols’ (at ‘Feminist Transitions’: 22nd Feminist & Women’s Studies Association Conference, at the Bluecoat, Liverpool).
  • (2008). Paper at the 3rd conference for the International Anchoritic Society, Hiroshima Shudo University, Japan: ‘Mapping the Medieval Anchorhold: Dialogue between East & West’: ‘ “I wanted this to happen elsewhere … & in a different way”: The abandoned rulemaker & the heartless recluse. Betrayal & anchoritic guidance writing?’.
  • (2007). Paper at the Lesbian Lives XIV: Lesbian Existence & The Lesbian Continuum Conference, University College, Dublin, Thursday 14th – Sat 16th June 2007: ‘ “She … made him f**k her as a lad”: Queer Sexualities, Sexualised Violence & the work of Carol Ann Duffy’.
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