Associate Professor

Photo of Carol Acton.

PhD, Queen's
MA, Kent at Canterbury
BA Honours, Trinity College, Dublin

Extension: 28238
Office: SJU Sweeney Hall 2201



My PhD thesis was on First World War British poetry. Since then I have worked on gender and war and more broadly on subjective experiences as they are represented in life-writings, especially examining war and grief and war and trauma. My teaching areas include modern British literature, women’s writing, and autobiography/life-writing and Communications in Mathematics and Computer Science. 

Selected publications


(with Dr. Jane Potter) Working in a World of Hurt: Trauma and Resilience in the Narratives of Medical Personnel in Warzones. Manchester University Press, 2015.

(ed.) A Very Private Diary: A Nurse in Wartime by Mary Morris. Wiedenfeld & Nicolson, 2014.

Grief in Wartime: Private Pain, Public Discourse. Palgrave Macmillan: 2007.

Articles and Chapters in Books

"Negotiating Injury and Masculinity in First World War Nurses’ Writing." In First World War Nursing: Visions and Revisions. Ed. Alison Fell and Christine Hallett. (Routledge, 2013)

(with Dr. Jane Potter) ”’These frightful sights would work havoc in one’s brain’: Subjective Experience and Trauma in First World War Writings by Medical Personnel." Literature and Medicine 30.1 (2012): 61-85.

‘‘Stepping into History’: Reading the Second World War through Irish Women’s Diaries."Irish Studies Review 18:1 (2010): 39-56.

"Best Boys and Aching Hearts: The Rhetoric of Social Control in Wartime Magazines for Young Women." In Jessica Meyer, ed. The First World War and Popular Culture. Brill: 2008.

"Bodies Do Count: American Nurses Mourn the Catastrophe of Vietnam." In The Memory of Catastrophe. Peter Grey, Kendrick Oliver eds. Manchester University Press, 2004.

"Diverting the Gaze: The Unseen Text in Women’s War Writing." College Literature, Spring 2004.

"Dangerous Daughters: American Nurses and Gender Identity in World War One and Vietnam." War, Literature, and the Artsan International Journal of the Humanities 13/1&2(2001): 87-113.

"Writing and Waiting: The First World War Correspondence between Vera Brittain and Roland Leighton." Gender and History 11(1999)1: 54-83.

Fellowships & Awards

  • 2012-13 uWaterloo SSHRC 4A grant
  • 2010-11 uWaterloo SSHRC 4A grant
  • 2009-10 uWaterloo SSHRC seed grant
  • 2009 Oxford Brookes University Institute for Historical and Cultural Research (IHCR) Visiting Research Fellow

Current research

I have recently completed a book on medical personnel and war trauma from the First World War to the War in Iraq, which is to be published by Manchester University Press (with Dr Jane Potter). I have also edited a Second World War Irish nurse’s diary which was published by Orion Press (Weidenfeld & Nicolson) Both projects relate to my research interests in war and life-writing.

Continuing my interest in the subjective experience and the use of language to articulate emotion, I have recently begun working on exchanges of letters between couples during the First World War and have presented conference papers on this topic.

I continue to work on Ireland and personal experiences of the two world wars.

Areas of graduate supervision

  • War in literature and life-writing
  • Autobiography
  • Modern British writers, especially non-canonical women writers
University of Waterloo

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