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Grace Halden

Birkbeck College, University of London

Senior Lecturer in Modern and Contemporary Literature

Birkbeck staff profile here.



I am a cultural historian with a broad focus on technology and posthumanism. I specialise in reproductive health, reproductive technologies, assisted reproduction (IUI and IVF), donor conception, and bioethics. I mainly work on 20th and 21st century literature and culture. My work is interdisciplinary and sits in the juncture between literary studies and medical humanities.

My current research project is called Cyborg Conception (for which I hold 3 separate grants and a book contract). Cyborg Conception focuses on cultural responses to donor conception, solo motherhood by choice, and assisted reproduction.

My forthcoming monograph contracted with Palgrave combines creative (lived experience) and critical writing on solo motherhood via gamete donation. 


I am programme director for BA English and MA Medical Humanities and the co-director of the Centre of Medical and Health Humanities at Birkbeck.




MA by Research: English

BA Hons: English (1st)

Qualified Teacher Status (QTS)

PGCHE (2017)

Fellow HEA (2017)

Select publications and research projects




Recent Articles 

Halden, G., and H. King, 'Regulation needs to acknowledge that donor siblings connect before 18', PET: BioNews, 25 March 2024. Regulation needs to acknowledge that donor siblings connect before 18  (


‘Is the export of donor sperm explained adequately to recipients?’, PET: BioNews, 15 Jan 2024. The relationship between solo parents and fertility clinics', PET: BioNews, 15 January 2024.Is the export of donor sperm explained adequately to recipients? (


'The relationship between solo parents and fertility clinics', PET: BioNews, 26 June 2023. The relationship between solo parents and fertility clinics • PET (

'Fatherlessness, sperm donors and ‘so what?’ parentage: arguing against the immorality of donor conception through ‘world literature’, British Medical Journal: Medical Humanities, 25 April 2022. doi: 10.1136/medhum-2021-012328 (part of the ISSF/Wellcome Cyborg Conception funded project)


'We All Fall Down: Nuclear Families and Post-Nuclear Worlds', Berlinale Film Festival (2022)


''Plan A''. Donor Conception Network Journal, 25 (2021), pp. 13-14


Cyborg Conception: Cultural and Critical Responses to Solo Motherhood by Choice (Palgrave: 2024) available here at Springer and here on Amazon. Review copies can be ordered here

'Independent Family Planning: Choosing Solo Motherhood through Gamete Donation. A guide for fertility healthcare professionals' (Wellcome, March 2023)  - booklet​

Three Mile Island: The Meltdown Crisis and Nuclear Power in American Popular Culture (Routledge, 2017). Flyer here . Order here: ,

Concerning Evil, ed. by Grace Halden and Gabriela Madlo (Oxford: IDP, 2013).

In progress: Contemporary Posthumanism: Transcending the Human in Contemporary Posthuman Literature, Media, and Culture (TBA)  (on hold due to maternity leave and ISSF project)


Chapters in edited collections

'British Science Fiction 1990s-2010: Technology and Society', Blackwell/Wiley Encyclopedia of Contemporary British and  Irish Literature, ed. by Richard Bradford (Blackwell/Wiley, 2020)


'Cyberpunk Photography and Art', The Routledge Companion to Cyberpunk Culture, ed. by Graham J. Murphy et al (Routledge, 2019)

‘Growing up in the 21st Century: Pretty Little Liars and their Pretty Little Devices’, in Girl Talk:  The Influence of Girls’ Series Books on American Popular Culture, ed. by LuElla D’Amico (New York: Lexington Books, 2016).


Edited Collections


Radical Narratives of Assisted Reproduction, ed. by Grace Halden and Zaina Mahmoud (Open Library of Humanities Special Collection 2024)


Waste: Papers on Disposability, Decay, and Depletion, ed. by Grace Halden and Alice Burks (Open Library of Humanities Special Collection, 2018): (this is a rolling publication)


King, H., Johnson, M., Halden, G., Lentner, N., Smyth, U., Walker, J., 'Our Say: Pre 18 Contact with Donor Siblings', Donor Sibling Connections UK (2023). Here



2023: Ronald Tress Prize 


2023: Vice-Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence in Teaching and Learning


2021: Winner: Best Dissertation/Project Supervisor for Birkbeck Heroes (Birkbeck Students' Union)


2018: High commendation for 'Ruin and Rebuild' at the Public Engagement Awards

2017: Birkbeck Excellence in Teaching Award (BETA)

Current Research Areas

See here


2023. The Problem of Anonymity: A Film Showing of Offspring (2001) and a Discussion of Donor Anonymity in the Digital Age. 24 March 2023, 18:00 — 21:00. Venue: Birkbeck 43 Gordon Square, Cinema. Book here.

2023- STAG: Solo-Parent Talk and Action Group. Community Café. Organised with Natasza Lentner (admin for the Facebook groups Solo Parents by Choice UK), Ruth Talbot (founder of Single Parent Rights), and Dr Suzy Buckley from UCL. 6th February 2023, 20.00pm-21.00pm ONLINE. Book here. This is an ongoing event which runs every 2 months. Funded by Birkbeck College's Strategic Support Fund.

2022. 'Effecting Change: Café for Solo Parents by Choice', Being Human Festival, November. Co-organiser alongside Dr Harriet Barratt. Tickets sold: 105.

Research Projects

Cyborg Conception Project - Funded

2023. Strategic Support Fund for STAG: Solo Parents Talk and Action Group

2022-2023. Experimental Humanities Collaborative Network (EHCN) funding for Award: Community-Facing Events. For: Anonymity and Donor Conception in the Digital Age.


2022-2023. ISSF Wellcome full funding for project: Independent Family Planning: Choosing Solo Motherhood through Gamete Donation. Summary: Through co-production with the donor conception community, I aim to produce an 8-page A5 booklet on solo motherhood by choice to be shared with fertility clinics specialising in donor conception. The objective of this booklet is to highlight to industry professionals the lived experiences of SMBC at the stages of family planning, choosing donor gametes, embarking on the conception journey, pregnancy, and birth. More information here

2020-2021. ISSF Wellcome full funding for 12 months. Project: 'Cyborg Conception: technologized reproduction and posthuman families in literary and cultural imagination'. Summary: this project will intervene in the interdisciplinary field of the medical humanities by understanding the cultural mediation of assisted reproduction through literature since 1978. Across three key genres, ‘Cyborg Conception’ analyses how literature forms part of the reimagined ‘entangled’ medical humanities (as articulated by Fitzgerald and Callard), interrogating and even ‘reanimating’ medical understandings of, and discourses around, assisted reproduction. More information here.

Collaborative funded


2017-Current. WASTE (with Alice Burks). Event:  ‘Waste: A Symposium. Papers on Disposability, Decay, and Depletion’, 21 September. An interdisciplinary event exploring representations of waste, both material and metaphorical, within contemporary culture. Publication secured with Open Library Humanities (peer reviewed, for 2018). Funding awarded by Birkbeck’s Research Committee.


2016-Current.  ‘The Contemporary: An Exhibition’. This is an annual exhibition conceptualized for Arts Week 2016 and 2017. I lead the exhibition and work with Birkbeck postgraduate students to present a rich mixture of art, photography and dramatic performance on the theme of Art and Politics in the contemporary. Funding granted by Arts Week Committee.


2014-15. The ArtLess Group. This project involved researching ways to unite the humanities and

sciences to promote new, innovative, collaborative research in the twenty-first century. I was invited onto the team to manage events and public outreach, and to conduct, facilitate, and disseminate new interdisciplinary research. One of the project’s outreach programmes included creating research exhibitions for Bury Art Museum and for tour in Japan. AHRC funded group.


2015.  Critical Waves project member. Within this role, I was invited onto the team as one of six project leaders developing panel discussions and radio broadcasts for Resonance FM and the Institute of Contemporary Arts. The aim of this project was to encourage further research in media and facilitate the global reach of research. The project’s events were pedagogical and enabled young researchers to consider the social importance and relevance of voice and the power of research dissemination in the twenty-first century. AHRC funded group.


Collaborative unfunded


2017    ‘Ruin and Rebuild: Exhibition of Urban Dereliction’, Being Human Festival, 25 November 2017.

2017-   First Contact Research Group. A research cluster at Birkbeck seeking to explore modern narratives about a diversity of contemporary issues. Intended outputs include publications, grants, and international collaborations. Founding member.

2015: Technology for Teaching and Learning. Representative for The Satellite Group (2015-2019), subcommittee of Birkbeck’s Teaching and Quality Enhancement Committee (focused on technology-enhanced learning). I have done a series of talks/workshops/training initiatives for Birkbeck on the subject of technology enhanced learning.

Honorary Roles / Membership


2024: Co-director: Centre for Medical and Health Humanities


2023: Reviewer for Bloomsbury


2022: Fellow Royal Society for Public Health


2021: Volunteer for the Donor Conception Network 


2021: Professional membership: Donor Conception Network

2021: Professional membership: SFRA


2020-Current: Open Access Sub-Committee at Birkbeck.


2020-Current: Digital Education Sub-Committee at Birkbeck.


2017-Current: Fellow Higher Education Academy


2017-Current: Member of the Atomic Photographer’s Guild ; personal profile here: Grace Halden


2017-2018: Online Editor for Alluvium


2015- 2019: Representative for The Satellite Group, subcommittee of Birkbeck’s Teaching and Quality Enhancement Committee (focused on technology-enhanced learning).


2015- Current: Reviewer: Science Fiction Film and Television.


Select Interviews and Talks



2017    ‘Waste: A Symposium. Papers on Disposability, Decay, and Depletion’, 21 September. An interdisciplinary event exploring representations of waste, both material and metaphorical, within contemporary culture. Publication secured with Open Library Humanities (peer reviewed, for 2018). Funding awarded by Birkbeck’s Research Committee.



Forthcoming: 2024 ‘10 Families & Counting: Time for Global Limits on Donor-Created (Half) Siblings?’ PET. May 22nd. 5.30-7.30pm (BST) on Zoom. 10 Families and Counting: Time for Global Limits on Donor-Created (Half-) Siblings? • PET ( Invited Speaker.

Forthcoming: 2024 'Cyborg Conception: The Social Reality of One Parent Conception', Creating Children, Creating Parents. University of Nottingham. 29-30th April. Invited Speaker. Creating Children, Creating Parents Conference (

2023      ‘Regulatory Change for Donor Siblings, Now!’ at ‘Reproduction Now!’, Arts Week, Birkbeck. May 25th.

2023      ‘Solo Mothers Via Gamete Donation: Tackling Stigma and Prioritising Lived-Experience’, at ‘An Unwell World? Anthropology in a Speculative Mode conference’, Association of Social Anthropologists.

2022   'Fatherlessness, sperm donors and ‘so what?’ parentage', Critical Creative Innovative Thinking at Aga Khan University, August 18. Invited speaker.

2022    Lecture for EMC, 'Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, Reproductive Futures and Bioethics'. June 13. Invited speaker.

2021    'Nuclear Memories - An International Comparison', Roundtable. October 22. Invited speaker.

2021    'Barren Planets and the Ovum-like Death Star: Family, Fertility and Assisted Reproduction in Star Wars (1977-2019)', SFRA, June 21.

2018    Creative Climate Symposium, May 8th. Invited speaker.

2018    ‘Technology for Assessment and Extra-Curricular Extension’, Centre for Transformational Practice in Learning and Teaching. 31 January. Invited speaker.

2017    Roundtable discussion at Birkbeck for Post-War to the Contemporary, December. Invited speaker.

2017    ‘American Crisis’, Waterstones Gower Street, May. Invited speaker.

2017    ‘Disability, Equality and Digital Technology in Teaching and Assessment’, Arts Week, Birkbeck, May. Invited speaker.

2017    ‘Ordinary Digital Humanities’, Arts Week, Birkbeck, May. Invited speaker.

2016    Talk for Birkbeck’s Teaching Day, ‘Using Panopto for Assessment’, December. Invited speaker.

2016    Roundtable discussion at Birkbeck on science fiction, December. Invited speaker.

2016    Talk for Institute of Contemporary Arts, ‘Exploration: Ruined Things’, May. Invited speaker.

2015    Interviewed by Workers Educational Association, February. Invited speaker.

2015    Roundtable discussion at Birkbeck on science fiction, May. Invited speaker.

2015    Lecture for EMC's Dystopia, Speculative Fiction, ‘Future Fiction’, December. Invited speaker.

2014    ‘Ascending or Descending? Ideas of Disability and the Singularity in Stargate Universe’, Current Research in Speculative Fiction, University of Liverpool, June.

2014    ‘Technophobia and Technoparanoia: Looms, Luddites, and Laptops’, Fear and Loathing, Kent, May.

2014    '(Future) Apocalypse Now', Memories of the Future, Chelsea College of Arts, UAL, May.

2014    'Light Bulbs: Theories and Conspiracies and Representation’, Holding things in common: the vernacular, everyday objects and memory, Birkbeck, May.

2013    ‘The Pursuit of Legal Rights for AGI in the Speculative Future’, Beyond AI 2013, University of West Bohemia. Fully Funded Speaker; receiver of funding for best paper.

2013    ‘The dominance of technology in Gravity’s Rainbow: the light bulb and the cybernetic apocalypse’, Lines, Legacies, Anniversaries: International Pynchon Week, Durham University, August.

2013    ‘Gender in Virtual Worlds: Masking of Identity and Intention’, Ignite© Gender violence and virtual worlds: brave new world(s) of regulation?, Open University, September.

2013    ‘The Digitalisation of Reader Response’, E-reading between the lines: 21st century literature, digital platforms and literacies, Brighton University, July.

2013    ‘The Technologically Rapine’, Current Research in Speculative Fiction, The University of Liverpool, June.

2013    The ‘bare life’ of the human in conflict contexts: the static behaviour and group movement of war zombie’, Zombies: Eating, Walking & Performance, Plymouth University, April.

2013    ‘Technology, psychological doubling and genocide.  How remote technology facilitates evil acts as explored through science fiction after World War II’, Evil and Human Wickedness 14th Global Conference,, April. Partially Funded speaker.

2013    ‘Memories of Hiroshima and Nagasaki: projected fictional landscapes based on the memory of nuclear holocaust’, Memories of Conflict, Conflict of Memories International Conference, University College London, February.

2012    ‘Apocalyptic imagination: the fear of a nuclear driven apocalyptic event within American Cold War literature’, Two Cultures or Co-evolution? Science and Literature 1800-Present, Keele University, May.


Image and Film
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2010 - present

2010 - present

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