Leeds Centre for Medical Humanities

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

Research Student Michael J Flexer

PhD Research Student


MSc Medical Humanities, King’s College London, 2010-2012

MA Advanced Theatre Practice, Central School of Speech and Drama, 2000-2001

BA English Language and Literature, St Hugh’s College, University of Oxford, 1997-2000


My PhD will map out and analyse a diverse range of representations of schizophrenia, cross-referencing representations from the humanities (literary fiction; illness memoirs qua literature; fictional and documentary film; visual art; music; theatre; philosophy; literary criticism), from medicine (medical histories; psychiatry textbooks and nosologies; pharmaceutical literature; epidemiology; case studies and medical notes; patient advice and information; public health and awareness campaigns, from both medical bodies and independent charities), from ‘the media’ (news stories; advertising), from families and professional carers (through interviews and any available accounts) and individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia (through interviews and their own narratives, in whatever media they prefer).

The research has several objectives, some pertinent to humanities, others to medicine, but all to medical humanities:

  • Collate and analyse subjective accounts to gain insight into the phenomenological experience of living with schizophrenia
  • Give a detailed critique of objective accounts identifying common tropes, characterisation, narrative structures
  • Contrast these accounts to illustrate any gaps between the two sets of representations
  • Use these conclusions to: develop recommendations for medical accounts of schizophrenia e.g. in literature given to sufferers, in discussions and assessments of diagnostic descriptions; generate empirically grounded criticism of humanities representations; provide insight for campaigning groups.


In addition to my academic interests, I work as a semiotician advising companies, brands and advertising agencies on their communications.  I have written several short books for children for HarperCollins, and I also run a small theatre company called Apikoros.

Academia.edu profile

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