Folklorist | Writer | Artist

Elizabeth is a Lecturer in Creative Writing at Edinburgh Napier University. She has taught a range of courses and workshops on the history of fairy tales, the Gothic, landscape writing, English and comparative literature from Beowulf onwards, storytelling, public engagement, working with festivals, creative writing, and creative practice and its intersections with research.

Elizabeth has taught widely at undergraduate and graduate level, in addition to courses for the wider public and for young people. In addition to her work at Edinburgh Napier University, she also teaches at the Freud Museum London and the University of London, and guest lectures at universities, libraries and museums around the UK and beyond. She has previously taught at the University of Cambridge, University College London and Birkbeck, University of London.

Her online courses at the Freud Museum explore folklore, film, forests, eerie ecology, creepy dolls and many other topics - join her there on Zoom!


Living Dolls: The Doll in Literature, Art and Cinema
Originally broadcast 21 October 2022

Elizabeth Dearnley and artist Katharine Fry introduce a cast of shifting dolls as playthings and partners, puppets and ventriloquist dummies, automata and fetishes from the toybox of folklore, literature, art, film and material culture.

The Monstrous Feminine
Originally broadcast 11 March 2022

Elizabeth Dearnley and Katharine Fry explore Barbara Creed's concept of the monstrous-feminine through six folkloric examples: the mother, the witch, the mermaid, the werewolf, the vampire and the undead bride.

The Gothic Tales of Angela Carter
Originally broadcast 8 March 2021

Elizabeth Dearnley and Katharine Fry examine Angela Carter's Gothic tales in light of their connections with psychoanalytic theory, the unconscious and the uncanny. Tracing the history of the Gothic mode, they highlight feminist strategies that gave voice to generations of women buried in patriarchal plots.

Past courses:

The Deep, Dark Forest
30 April 2022

Elizabeth Dearnley and geographer and filmmaker Amy Cutler invite you to follow a breadcrumb trail through forests in folklore, film, psychoanalysis, the visual arts, ecology, and popular culture, from medieval associations between woods and madness to Eduardo Kohn's 'sylvan dreaming', folk horror and the eco-Gothic, and Taylor Swift's Folklore.

Freud and Fairy Tales
12 November 2020

In The Occurrence in Dreams of Material from Fairy Tales, Freud confirms the importance of fairy tales to the developing mental life of children, invoking them as tools to decipher the language of the unconscious. This course delves into fairy tales as magic worlds where both children and adults can play out their fears and fantasies.