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Dr. anna six

Profile pictureReader Theatre and Performance

School of Creative Arts, Performance and Visual Cultures

Tel: +44 (0)24 765 23021

Email: anna dot six at warwick dot ac dot uk

Office Hours: Tuesdays 10-12pm


anna joined the University of Warwick in January 2015 as Associate Professor of Theatre. She completed her PhD at the University of Cambridge and then took up a lectureship at the University of Exeter before joining Warwick. Her research explores the relationships between medicine, culture, and politics. She is particularly concerned with the politics of mental distress, trauma, alternate states, and pain. Her work focusses on literature and visual culture and she is currently writing her second monograph, Abolish Psychiatry: Art and the Depathologisation of Everyday Life. Her research has been supported by the AHRC and she has published in number of journals including Contemporary Theatre Review, Women & Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory and Performance Research. Her publications include her monograph Madness, Art, and Society: Beyond Illness, ‘Broadmoor Performed: A Theatrical Hospital’ in The Edinburgh Companion to the Critical Medical Humanities, Performance and Participation: Practices, Audiences, Politics with Helen Nicholson (RHUL), and Performance, Madness, Psychiatry: Isolated Acts with Juliet Foster Cambridge). She has recently completed a chapter for the Routledge Companion to Literature and Disability on learning disabilities and cinema and an article about gender and pathology for a special issue of CTR on Katie Mitchell. Alongside Abolish Psychiatry she is completing an article on interdisciplinarity and the body and editing a new book called Madness in Literature and Visual Culture: Critical Interventions. anna was also one of the editors of the Routledge journal Studies in Theatre and Performance and, along with Rachel Clements, Philip Hager and Gareth White, convened the ‘Performance, Identity, Community’ working group at TaPRA. Her work has been shortlisted for the inaugural AHRC/Wellcome Trust Health Humanities Medal and The David Bradby Award for outstanding theatre research.

Alongside her academic work anna is a writer and theatre director. She has created work with her company Idiot Child and is also writing a new creative project called Funeral Party (for one). anna also works as a mental health consultant in the creative industries. In this role she works with artists, companies, and theatres who are exploring difficult subjects in their work and wish to do so in ways that are generative, supportive, and caring.


  • BA (Hons) English Literature (Newcastle)
  • MA Modern Literature and Culture (York)
  • PhD English (Cantab)

Research interests

anna’s academic work is particularly concerned with questions of politics, representation, distress and altered states. More specifically she is interested in the cultural politics of madness and trauma. In this regard her research intersects with psychiatry, psychoanalysis, and philosophy. She is concerned to examine alternatives to biomedical understandings of mental life and, through her research, explores how literature, theatre, and film might offer particularly valuable means of re-articulating what one might call madness or ‘mental illness’. Her monograph with Routledge, Madness, Art, and Society: Beyond Illness considers how literary, cinematic, and theatrical works constitute a writing back to power against the dominant orthodoxies of psychiatric thinking and practices. Through close analyses of graphic fiction, theatre, photography, and film anna illuminates the manners in which artists have sought to represent madness, psychiatry, and care and considers the political, artistic, and clinical legacies of such works. In addition to this work anna, along with Juliet Foster (Cambridge), has completed an AHRC funded exploration into the history of performance in British psychiatric hospitals and asylums. Emerging out of this project she wrote a book chapter on the history of theatre in Broadmoor Hospital. Alongside this primary area of current research anna has coedited a book with Professor Helen Nicholson about the politics of participation and performance entitled, Performance and Participation: Practices, Audiences, Politics. This volume seeks to better understand how performance and participation might help sharpen our notion of politics, action, and inaction. This volume was nominated for the TaPRA editing prize in 2017. She is now working on her second monograph, Abolish Psychiatry: Art and the Depathologisation of Everyday Life.


Selected publications

  • anna six, Abolish Psychiatry: Art and the Depathologisation of Everyday Life (forthcoming)
  • anna six 'The Body' in Des Fitzgerald and Angela Woods (eds), Constructing Sites: Surveying Scenes of Interdisciplinary Collaboration (London: Bloomsbury, 2025)
  • six, anna (ed), Madness in Literature and Visual Culture (London: Bloomsbury, 2025)
  • six, anna (ed) and Anthony Neilson, The Wonderful World of Dissocia (London: Methuen, 2023).
  • 'Of Scapeghosts and Men: Shane Meadows' Dead Man's Shoes and the Politics of Learning Disability', in Alice Hall (ed), The Routledge Companion to Literature and Disability (2020)
  • '"You were an O. Your Black O In The Middle of Your Face": Madness and Catastrophe in Katie Mitchell's Ophelias Zimmer and Anatomy of a Suicide', in Contemporary Theatre Review edited by Tom Cornford and Caridad Svich (2020)
  • Madness, Art, and Society: Beyond Illness (Abingdon: Routledge, 2018)
  • ‘Dirty Realism’ in Trish Reid (ed) The Theatre of Anthony Neilson (London: Methuen, 2017).
  • anna harpin and Helen Nicholson (eds), Performance and Participation: Practices, Audiences, Politics (London: Palgrave, 2016)
  • anna harpin, ‘Broadmoor Performed: A Theatrical Hospital’ in Anne Whitehead and Angela Woods (eds), The Edinburgh Companion to the Critical Medical Humanities (Edinburgh University Press, 2016)
  • anna harpin and Juliet Foster (eds), Madness, Performance, Psychiatry: Isolated Acts (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2014)
  • 'Revisiting the Puzzle Factory: Cultural Representations of Psychiatric Asylums' in Interdisciplinary Science Review, special issue on 'New Directions in Science and Performance', vol. 34, no. 4, pp. 335-350.
  • 'Unremarkable Violence: Staging Child Sexual Abuse in Recent British Drama' in Contemporary Theatre Review, vol. 23, no. 2, pp. 166-181.
  • 'The Lives of Our Mad Mothers: Ageing and Contemporary Performance', Women and Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory, vol. 1, no. 22, pp. 67-87.
  • ‘Intolerable Acts’, Performance Research, vol. 1, no. 16, 2011, pp. 102-111.
  • 'Land of Hope and Glory: Jez Butterworth's Tragic Landscapes' in Studies in Theatre and Performance, vol. 31, no. 1, 2011, pp. 61-73.
  • 'Marginal Experiments: Peter Brook and Stepping Out Theatre Company' in RiDE: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance, vol. 15, no. 1, 2010, pp. 39-58.