About the Project

Death Before Birth is a two-year ESRC-funded project, running from 2016-18.

Through it, we aim to examine how people in England who have experienced miscarriage, termination for fetal anomaly, and stillbirth reach decisions concerning what happens to their baby after death, how their perceptions of the law impact on their decision-making, and how they communicate their experiences and choices to those there to support them. We will also be examining the impact of Human Tissue Authority guidance on what happens to babies after they have died, investigating how it is interpreted in practice by professionals and the extent to which it takes account of the views, experiences and needs of the bereaved. This interdisciplinary project combines aspects of socio-legal studies, cultural studies, and linguistics.

The loss of a pregnancy may be felt as a form of bereavement, one that usually involves complex emotions that are difficult to articulate. From a linguistic standpoint, this project will accordingly pay careful attention not just to what the bereaved and those who support them do, but how they express themselves through their words and actions. We are particularly interested in how individuals may use figurative language to help them to express complex and difficult emotions.

Our research will inform and improve government policy, and pave the way to improved care pathways for people who have faced such experiences.

About the Project Team

Principal Investigator (PI): Dr Danielle Fullerfuller-danielle-square, University of Birmingham

Dr Fuller is a cultural practices specialist, Reader in Canadian Studies and Cultures of Reading, and Research Impact Lead for the School of English, Drama and American & Canadian Studies at the University of Birmingham, UK.



Co-Investigator (CI): Professor Jeannette Littlemore, University of Birmingham

Professor Littlemore is a metaphor specialist. She also holds roles as Professor of English Language and Applied Linguistics, Head of Research for the Department of English Language and Applied Linguistics, and Director of Internationalisation for the College of Arts and Law at the University of Birmingham.



Co-Investigator (CI): Dr Sheelagh McGuinnesssheelagh, University of Bristol

Dr McGuinness is a lawyer and Senior Lecturer in Law at the University of Bristol. She has particular expertise in the regulation of reproduction and is the project partner lead.


Post-Doctoral Research Fellows

Dr Karolina Kuberska, University of Birmingham Photograph-of-Karolina-Kuberska-Cropped-230x230

Dr Kuberska is a medical anthropologist with a background in Cognitive Linguistics. She is a full-time research fellow on the Death before Birth project and is based at the University of Birmingham.




Dr Sarah Turner, University of Birmingham

Dr Turner is a metaphor specialist with a background in Cognitive Linguistics. She also teaches on various undergraduate and postgraduate courses at the University of Birmingham.


Research Associate and Administrator

Meera Burgess, University of Birmingham

Meera Burgess is a sociolinguist with a background in Social Policy. She is a Research Associate and Administrator on the Death Before Birth project, and is currently pursuing her MA in Applied Linguistics at the University of Birmingham.