Leeds Centre for Medical Humanities

An interdisciplinary collaboration between the Faculties of Arts and Medicine & Health at the University of Leeds

Daisy Powell

MA Research Student



Education: BA English and Sociology (International), University of Leeds, 2007-2011

My research will outline the current debates surrounding disability and cure, and highlight how contemporary literature contributes to these discussions. I will consider whether medical and scientific research attempting to eradicate certain conditions devalues disabled lives and enforces notions of normalcy. Through my analysis of The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon, Under The Eye of the Clock by Christopher Nolan and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean Dominique Bauby, I shall suggest that new voices and alternative representations that illustrate the value of human variation could influence social understandings of disability and lead to better informed debates about the problematic issues of cure.

The key aims of my research are to:

  • Consider how contemporary debates surrounding cure have developed since the 1960’s anti-psychiatry movement.
  • Set up a dialogue between my chosen texts and Disability Theory to challenge medical, cultural and social narratives that represent certain conditions as tragic and in need of eradication.
  • Suggest that a proliferation of imaginative and creative representations of disability through literary and autobiographical fiction, as well as online narratives, will help influence perceptions of human difference as desirable rather than something to be cured or prevented.


Background: I carried out similar research for my undergraduate dissertation entitled ‘Towards a Progressive Representation of Disability in Contemporary Fiction: Challenging Normalcy and Ableism’. I also worked for a year at a specialised college in Manchester supporting young adults with profound learning and physical difficulties.

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