+44(0) 113 343 4744
Summary: Medical Humanities, especially cultural representations of disability and mental health; body augmentation; narratives of the posthuman; postcolonial heath; postcolonial encounter and settlement.
BA, MA, Exeter; DPhil, Waikato, NZ.
I came to Leeds in September 2000 after spending 7 years working at Trinity College, Dublin and my research interests are varied and range across cultures and time periods. The focus of my research lies in medical humanities, cultural disability studies and representation of the posthuman. I am the Director of the Leeds Centre for Medical Humanities, a multidisciplinary research centre that works with both academic and non-academic partners. I have a special interest in autism and associated cognitive conditions and my most recent book is Autism, published in September 2011 as the first volume in Routledge's new 'Integrating Science and Culture' series, which aims to look at high-profile contemporary cultural, scientific and health issues from as broad a knowledge base as possible. My work has a specific focus on issues of cultural representation and narrative and in 2008 Liverpool University Press published my monograph Representing Autism: Culture, Narrative, Fascination as the first book in its 'Representations: Health, Disability, Culture and Society' series, of which I am the founding editor. My major writing project at the moment is a book-length study of the relationship between disability and the posthuman, with a focus on a variety of 20th and 21st century texts, events and debates. It will be published by Liverpool University Press. Other current writing projects include articles looking at disability and work in a time of posthuman labour, and disability and posthuman memory. Along with Mark Osteen of Loyola University, I will be editing a special issue of the Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies on representing autism, to appear in 2018.
With colleagues in English, Performance Technology, Engineering and Healthcare at Leeds, and partners in Robotics at Sheffield and Medical Humanities in Exeter, I am working on a research project entitled 'Augmenting the Body that looks at questions of body augmentation, extension, disability, care and assistive technologies. Augmenting the Body is the topic of a University of Leeds Sadler seminar series that will run through the 2016-2017 academic year, and will be developed into an application to the Wellcome Trust in 2017. I work closely with the Trust and am the current Chair of its Medical Humanities Expert Review Group for Investigator and Collaborative Awards, and serve on its selection panels. My research has been funded by the Wellcome Trust, AHRC and British Academy.
I was initially trained, in New Zealand, as a postcolonialist however, and I still maintain a strong interest on the literatures, film and cultural history surrounding the issues of postcolonial encounter and settlement, especially that from New Zealand and the Pacific. In 2008 I published one of the first monographs on an Indigenous filmmaker when I examined the work of pioneering Maori director Barry Barclay in my book Images of Dignity: Barry Barclay and Fourth Cinema, and I have also co-edited two collections of essays on New Zealand cinema. I bring my research interests together in my current work on postcolonial health, especially in connection to Indigenous cultures. My recent AHRC award, Our Own Image: The Legacies of Maori Filmmaking in Aotearoa/New Zealand, had a research strand on public health. The project had major events in both Leeds and Auckland in the 2015-2016 academic session. I also co-edited (with my colleague Clare Barker) a 2010 special issue (vol. 4, issue 3) of the Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies entitled 'Disabling Postcolonialism'.
My sense of my own research is that, because of the areas it covers, it necessarily has to extend beyond the written word. In Leeds I have worked closely with the NHS and community health groups, trying to bring research questions surrounding health and disability to bear on issues of policy, and nationally I work with charities, reading groups and disability activists.
I am on the editorial boards or advisory panels of a number of journals, including: Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies, Disability Studies Quarterly, Journal of New Zealand Literature, Studies in Australasian Cinema. I am happy to answer any questions relating to submissions to either the LUP 'Representations' series, and I am always keen to enter into dialogue with anyone interested in discussing disability representation.
Currently, I am supervising PhD research into the following topics: critical strategies in contemporary mental health life writing; ideas of disability and the voice in postcolonial literatures and film; representations of mental health in contemporary British fiction; and reading cancer narratives in literature, film and television. In the past I have supervised graduate work on a number of disability and postcolonial topics, including: the semiotics of schizophrenia; representations of the figure of Christ in contemporary fiction and cultural theory; post-1988 Australian fiction and the reworking of the convict narrative; the representation of disabled and exceptional children in contemporary postcolonial writing; questions of commodification and the market in narratives of cognitive disability; multiculturalism and contemporary Aboriginal women's writing; the uses of medievalism in post-1945 writing from Australia; transgression in the journals of eighteenth-century Pacific exploration; the use of travel narratives in contemporary Caribbean writing; the work of New Zealand novelist Janet Frame; and the representation of the Pacific in nineteenth-century fiction and ethnography. I have also examined over 20 PhDs both in the UK and internationally.
I would welcome interest or enquiries from potential research students thinking of working on any issue connected to representations of disability and mental health, the medical humanities, the posthuman, or Australian/New Zealand writing or film (especially in connection to Indigenous cultural practice).
I give lectures, talks and lead seminars to a variety of academic and non-academic audiences. I have given keynote lectures or presented invited papers in Hong Kong, Taipei, Ottawa, the Einstein Institute in Berlin, New York, Dublin, Liverpool, Sheffield, York, Lancaster, Manchester and Birmingham. I have also talked at a Special School in Newbury, at the Debating Matters event in London, been invited as a guest critic to an international film festival in Poland, and taken part in a special media panel at the National Autistic Society's international conference. I have been on BBC Radio discussing autism, and on Canadian television talking about indigenous cinema. I enjoy the mix of academic conferences and other public engagement events.
At undergraduate level I teach across the full range of 20th and 21st literatures and film, including modern, contemporary and postcolonial. I teach a disability option module entitled 'States of Minds: Disability and Exceptionality in Contemporary Culture' and one focused on representations of the posthuman in literature and film called Imagining Posthuman Futures'. At postgraduate level I offer an option module entitled 'Postcolonial Cultures of Encounter and Settlement', dealing with literature from New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific.