Jenny Cattier

PhD researcher
Faculty of Arts, Humanities, Education and Social Sciences
Cambridge School of Creative Industries
Areas of Expertise:
Creative practice , Psychology

Jenny writes short stories and is researching the affective, cognitive and social dimensions of reading speculative fiction. Her research includes an interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) study exploring the experience of women who have found reading short speculative fiction helpful in managing their depressive symptoms. The study informs a collection of her own short speculative fiction.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @JenGoneZen


Following a career in international marketing, Jenny joined ARU in 2014 to study a Masters degree in creative writing. In 2017 she received a scholarship to undertake her PhD research project.

From 2018 she has been an associate lecturer at ARU, teaching Principles of Marketing, Strategic Branding, and Live Events Management. She has also taught creative writing for Impington Village College’s adult education programme and runs productivity workshops for both academic and fiction writers.

Summary of research

There is a growing body of evidence that indicates reading can improve mental well-being and help people manage depressive symptoms. Much of this research into bibliotherapy (therapeutic reading) focuses solely on reading literary fiction and leaves the therapeutic potential of other genres largely unexamined.

This research involves an interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) study exploring the experiences of women who have found reading short speculative fiction helpful in managing their depressive symptoms. The study presents findings from seven in-depth interviews and considers the therapeutic potential that speculative genres offer to female readers and examines this in the light of existing scholarship into bibliotherapy.

The creative work is accompanied by an exegesis explaining how the different bodies of research coalesced to shape the individual stories, with a particular focus on the themes that emerged as therapeutic in the IPA study.

Research interests
  • Speculative fiction
  • Bibliotherapy
  • Depression and mental health
  • Political affect
  • Transformative literature

Thesis title:
An Exploration into the Efficacy of Short Speculative Fiction as a Therapeutic Agent for Female Depression.

Supervisory team:

Memberships, editorial boards

Jenny is part of the ARU Empowerment and Social Justice Research Area. The group undertakes collaborative and applied research to make a real difference to people’s lives through understandings of the self, processes within social environments, public policy, pedagogies, and professional identities.

Research grants, consultancy, knowledge exchange
  • 2017: Awarded a Creative Writing PhD scholarship. £15,000.
  • 2018, 2019 and 2020: Awarded £5,000 by ARU Arts Council for Lit Fuse. The Arts Council funds supported Lit Fuse, a creative events collaborative featuring speakers such as Daisy Johnson (Fen and Sisters), and John Mullan (How Novels Work). We also hosted events for writers including flash fiction, stand-up comedy, and drama workshops.
  • 2015–2017: As a founding member of ARU’s Anthology Committee, secured funds to publish the university’s first two creative writing anthologies, Mint and Crisp, under the imprint Minted Press. £2,500.
Recent presentations and conferences

"Using Speculative Fiction in Bibliotherapy for Depression". Presentation as part of Bibliotherapy for wellbeing: poetry and prose as Prozac? event at Cambridge Festival of Science, 25 March 2019.

"How People Write". Presented at National Association of Writers in Education (NAWE) Annual Conference, 8-10 November 2019, Park Inn, York.

“Short Story and Fantasy Fiction in Bibliotherapy for Depressed Subjects”. Presented at The Book as Cure: Bibliotherapy and Literary Caregiving from the First World War to the Present conference, Institute of English Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London, 14 September 2018.

"A Case for the Short Story and Fantasy Fiction in Bibliotherapy for Depression" Presented at Living Well With Books: Centre for Material Texts Conference, University of Bristol, 5-7 September 2018.