DRF News

Celebrating Recent PhD Success by DRF Members

Today we are celebrating recent PhD successes by DRF Members, and giving a shout out to their excellent work. 

A founding memeber of the DRF – Dr Tabby Collingbourne (University of Sheffield). Thesis: “Realising Disability Rights?” –  online at http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/3904/

A critical political discourse analysis of implementation in England of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, focusing on socio-economic rights set out under Article 19, the right to live independently and be included in the community.

Dr Jenny Slater (Manchester Metropolitan University). Thesis: “Constructions, Perceptions and Expectations of Being Disabled and Young: A Critical Disability Perspective”

Now a Lecturer in Education and Disability Studies at Sheffield Hallam University (j.slater@shu.ac.uk), you can read more about Jenny’s research in the following publications:

  • Slater, J. (2012) ‘Youth for sale: Using critical disability perspectives to examine the embodiment of ‘youth’ Societies 2:3, pp.195-209.
  • Slater, J. (forthcoming 2013) ‘Research with dis/abled youth: taking a critical disability, ‘critically young’ positionality’. In K. Runswick-Cole and T. Curran (eds.), Disabled Children’s Childhood Studies: Critical Approaches in a Global Context. Basingstoke: Palgrave.
  • Slater, J. (forthcoming 2013) ‘Playing grown-up: using critical disability perspectives to rethink youth’. In A. Azzopardi (ed.), Youth: Responding to Lives – An International Handbook. Rotterdam: Sense Publications.

Congratulations both.

If you, or a researcher you know, would like to celebrate PhD success in this way – let us know.

DRF News

Introducing… Jaime R. Brenes Reyes

From the very beginning, the DRF blog has include a space for brief biographical and contact details to be listed. The People section has been open to everyone and anyone interested in disability research.

Our most recent addition is:

Jaime R. Brenes Reyes: jbrenesr@uwo.ca – PhD student in Hispanic Studies, Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, The University of Western Ontario, Canada. Jaime explores Latin American literature, with special focus on Julio Cortázar, from the perspective of disability studies. He is interested in the act of reading as a process through which the reader’s understanding of reality is challenged. For more information, please visit his blog.

Jaime’s current research explores the aura that arises when reading good literature. He argues that an analysis of literature as an epileptic episode may give us some clues. Based on his research on Latin American literature and literary theory (as well as his own experience of living with seizures), Jaime aims to explore whether the act of reading Argentine writer and essayist Julio Cortázar’s fiction can be understood as epileptical, taking as a framework Deleuze and Guattari’s schizo-analysis. His research may have important implications for the understanding of Cortázar’s oeuvre and the contextualization of neurological malfunctions from the viewpoint of literature.

If you are working on similar topics, or are interested in disability research and live/work near Jamie, please feel free to contact him on: jbrenesr@uwo.ca. He’s up for sharing ideas and having chats. 

If you’d like to have your biographical/contact details listed in the People section all it takes is an email to Rebecca Mallett (r.mallett@shu.ac.uk)

DRF News

CFP: Special issue of Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies on ‘Disability and the American Counterculture’

Proposals are requested for a special issue of the Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies on ‘Disability and the American Counterculture’.

Guest edited by Stella Bolaki and Chris Gair

The American Counterculture has a complex relationship with disability. At its heart is the reinvention of the term freak that serves as an early example of empowering, though not unproblematic, appropriation of what had previously been a derogatory term. Freak Out!, the debut album by The Mothers of Invention—labelled a “monstrosity” by Frank Zappa—is a prime example of the association of freakery with the forms of avant-garde experimentation representative of one form of countercultural practice. In addition, representations of disability and illness occur repeatedly in countercultural work: the asylum and hospital become central tropes for examinations of the relationship between sanity and madness in Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” and Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, while canonical Beat/countercultural novels such as Jack Kerouac’s Desolation Angels and Richard Brautigan’s Trout Fishing in America and movies such as Richard Rush’s Psych-Out feature disabled characters not only to derive rhetorical force in their critique of hegemonic culture, but also to question core countercultural ideologies. In terms of aesthetics, William Burroughs’ experimental “cut-up technique” has been discussed in the context of his interest in virology and Andy Warhol’s work of trauma, injury and violence alongside what Tobin Siebers has called “disability aesthetics”. More recent work, such as E.L. Doctorow’s novel Homer and Langley, the Hollywood film Forrest Gump and Simi Linton’s memoir My Body Politic, examines the connection between disability and the counterculture through different lenses and with various aims.

What do perspectives informed by disability studies have to offer to typical readings of the American counterculture and its fundamental ideals of movement (both geographical and ideological), youth and vitality? In what ways did the American counterculture and the disability movement approach notions of the “normal” and the “abnormal” body? Beat and countercultural writers and artists have been criticised for their romanticised view of other cultures and for appropriating and shedding roles and personas from various marginalised groups at a dizzying pace. How different was the appropriation of disability to the American counterculture’s interest in other cultures (Eastern, African American, Native American) and their potential for constructing a subversive identity? What are the legacies of the American counterculture and its various discourses and styles of liberation for contemporary disability life writing, arts and activism? With such questions in mind, the co-editors invite proposals on an array of topics which include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • perspectives from disability studies/theory on iconic as well as understudied Beat texts and countercultural ideals more broadly
  • challenges to “normalcy” from disability movements and the American counterculture (comparative perspectives/debates)
  • disability as theme and/or aesthetic in countercultural writing, art, film and music or in more recent works that reference the American counterculture
  • appropriation and reinvention of the term “freak” by the counterculture
  • approaches to spectacle, the stare, the performative, and fashion in American counterculture and disability cultures/arts
  • disability in the sixties-era communes and communal living groups
  • feminist disability studies and the counterculture
  • crip perspectives on the American counterculture
  • legacies of the American counterculture and countercultural ideals, practices and styles for disability writing, arts, and activism

Discussions of specific literary and cultural texts are invited, but preference will be given to projects that use individual texts as vehicles to address broader cultural debates and theoretical inquiries related to disability studies and the American counterculture.

A one-page proposal and a one-page curriculum vitae should be emailed to S.Bolaki@kent.ac.uk and Chris.Gair@glasgow.ac.uk by the end of July 2013.

Finalists will be selected by 1st October 2013, and full drafts of articles will be due on 1st March 2014.

DRF News

CFP: Gothic Studies special issue on ‘Gothic and Medical Humanities’

Proposals are invited for a special issue of Gothic Studies exploring intersections between the Gothic and medical humanities.

Gothic Studies has long grappled with suffering bodies, and the fragility of human flesh in the grip of medical and legal discourse continues to be manifest in chilling literature and film. The direction of influence goes both ways: Gothic literary elements have arguably influenced medical writing, such as the nineteenth-century clinical case study. In this second decade of the twenty-first century, it seems apt to freshly examine intersections between the two fields.

The closing years of the twentieth century saw the emergence of medical humanities, an interdisciplinary blend of humanities and social science approaches under the dual goals of using arts to enhance medical education and interrogating medical practice and discourse. Analysis of period medical discourse, legal categories and medical technologies can enrich literary criticism in richly contextualising fictional works within medical practices. Such criticism can be seen as extending the drive towards historicised and localised criticism that has characterised much in Gothic studies in recent decades.

Our field offers textual strategies for analysing the processes by which medical discourse, medical processes and globalised biotechnological networks can, at times, do violence to human bodies and minds – both of patient and practitioner. Cultural studies of medicine analyse and unmask this violence. This special issue will explore Gothic representations of the way medical practice controls, classifies and torments the body in the service of healing.

Essays could address any of the following in any period, eighteenth-century to the present:

  • Medical discourse as itself Gothic (e.g., metaphors in medical writing; links between case histories and the Gothic tradition), and/or reflections on how specific medical discourses have shaped Gothic literary forms
  • Illness narratives and the Gothic (e.g., using Arthur Frank’s ‘chaos narratives’ of helplessness in The Wounded Storyteller).
  • Literary texts about medical processes as torture/torment in specific historical and geographic contexts (including contemporary contexts)
  • Doctors or nurses represented in literature as themselves Gothic ‘victims’, constrained by their medical environment
  • Genetic testing; organ harvest; genetic engineering; reproductive technologies; limb prostheses; human cloning, and more.

 To date the links between Gothic and psychiatric medical discourse have been the most thoroughly explored, so preference will be given to articles exploring other, non-psychiatric medical contexts in the interests of opening up new connections.

Please email 500-word abstract and curriculum vitae to Dr Sara Wasson, s.wasson@napier.ac.uk.

Deadline for proposals: 1 October 2013.

The official journal of the International Gothic Studies Association considers the field of Gothic studies from the eighteenth century to the present day. The aim of Gothic Studies is not merely to open a forum for dialogue and cultural criticism, but to provide a specialist journal for scholars working in a field which is today taught or researched in almost all academic establishments. Gothic Studies invites contributions from scholars working within any period of the Gothic; interdisciplinary scholarship is especially welcome, as are readings in the media and beyond the written word.

For more information on Gothic Studies, including submission guidelines and subscription recommendations, please see the journals website.

To view Gothic Studies online, see here.  To sign up to alerts for Gothic Studies, see here.


Seminar: Disciplinary Dialogues In Disability Studies, 15th May, University of Sheffield

15th May 2013, 1pm – 3pm

Room G18, Ground Floor, Elmfield Building, Northumberland Road, Sheffield, S10 2TUbuilding number 31, top left of the campus map which you will find herehttp://www.shef.ac.uk/visitors/mapsandtravel/university

This informal get together will encourage thinking around the study of disability and its relation to a number of disciplinary preoccupations and dilemmas. Short presentations will add to general debate and discussion. The emphasis will be on debate and chat – tea and cake will be provided!

Kathy Boxall – Doing disability studies in social work: personal, political or academic?
Harriet Cameron – Disability (probably dyslexia), critical realism and psychology
Esme Cleall – Disability and history
Dan Goodley – Psychology and disability studies: friend or foe?
Tabby Collingbourne – Law/politics and disability studies

DRF News

CFP: International Journal of Research and Method in Education, Special Issue on Inclusive Research

Call For Papers… 

Journal: International Journal of Research and Method in Education

Special Issue Theme: Understandings and Enactments of Inclusive Research: Progress and sticking points in developing participatory and emancipatory research in the field of education

Guest Editors: Prof. Jane Seale (Graduate School of Education, University of Exeter, UK) and Prof. Melanie Nind and Dr Sarah Parsons (School of Education, University of Southampton, UK)

Description: The International Journal of Research & Method in Education calls for scholarly papers for a special issue focused on inclusive research in education. For our purposes inclusive research is an umbrella term to encompass research which might also be defined as emancipatory, peer-led or user-centred, involving participatory methods or participatory design. It is understood as research that seeks to involve those who tend to be the subjects or objects of research, such as learners, practitioners or parents, as agents in the conduct of research; it addresses issues that are important to them and includes their views and experiences. Such inclusive research tends to have a practical agenda of improving educational experiences as well as being concerned with democratization of the research process

Inclusive research is the subject of considerable claims-making and celebratory narrative. In this Special Issue we are seeking reflective critiques of inclusive research that advance and challenge thinking around the benefits and quality of inclusive research, and papers that address the messy detail and sticking points in the reality and rhetoric of inclusive research. The issue will be distinctive in that all the papers will also concern educational research, where inclusive research is under-discussed and developed compared with health, social work and other arenas. The following are some questions that authors may wish to pursue:

  • How is inclusive research understood and enacted in education?
  • How might we better understand the claims regarding the benefits and potential of inclusive research in education?
  • Where do the challenges and sticking points lie when applying participatory or emancipatory principles and how are these being worked through?
  • Does the rhetoric of inclusive research hide a messy reality? How is this messiness managed within projects and what impact does it have on outcomes, participation and motivation?
  • How can we progress the contentious blurring of boundaries between research and advocacy/consultation?
  • How can we judge the quality of inclusive research in education?

 Submitted papers should not have been previously published nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere. A guide for authors along with other relevant information can be found on journal’s homepage, http://www.tandfonline.com/IJRME

Papers should be either:

  • approximately 7,000 words in length, giving comprehensive consideration to the issues raised by the questions above, or
  • approximately 2,000 word research papers co-/written with/by lay people (teachers, parents, children and young people) shedding light on the themes of the special issue.

 Submissions should be marked as for the Special Issue and made online at the International Journal of Research and Method in Education Manuscript Central site: http://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/cwse by 7th September, 2013.

For further information or queries regarding this Special Issue, please contact either Jane Seale (j.seale@exeter.ac.uk), Melanie Nind (M.A.Nind@soton.ac.uk) or Sarah Parsons (S.J.Parsons@soton.ac.uk).

DRF News

EVENT: IMAGINE Research Café on Work, Incapacity and Resilience (17th May 2013, Sheffield, UK)

[If you are interest in disability research, you may be interested in this…]

Event: IMAGINE Research Café

Date: Friday, 17th May 2013

Time: 1.00pm – 3.00pm

Venue: Room 9016, Cantor Building, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK. For a map of City Campus click here.

Slot 1:  Prof Christina Beatty, CRESR and Dr Sionnadh McLean, CHSCR

Christina Beatty leads the Data Analysis and Policy Team at the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research.  For the past twenty years Christina has researched issues around hidden unemployment, the location and the growth in numbers claiming incapacity benefits across the country, and the impacts of welfare reform.  Sionnadh McLean is a Reader in Physiotherapy and is based at the Centre for Health and Social Care Research. Prior to joining SHU in 2007 she was a practising clinician for 15 years. Sionnadh’s research interests revolve around improving the effectiveness of exercise prescription, taking into account the biopsychosocial circumstances of individuals.

Their Imagine project looks at addressing the real needs of incapacity claimants.  This project investigates the resilience of individuals and communities in the face of major welfare reform which affects over 2.5m people of working age on out-of-work disability benefits.  The project will gather evidence on the health interventions, experimental initiatives and interventional strategies which offer potential to bolster the resilience of disability claimants to cope with the increased demands of welfare reform to return to work. The research team includes Professor Steve Fothergill and Kirsty Duncan. 

Slot 2: Dr Jon Warren, Durham University

Jon Warren has worked in the Geography department at Durham University since 2009.  Prior to that he worked in the School for Applied Social Sciences. Jon is currently managing a major project which is evaluating an initiative which aims to improve the health of long term incapacity benefit (IB) recipients. The evaluation has been funded by Durham NHS primary care trust.

Jon is interested in the Sociology of Work and the history of work and industry in the North East in particular. His doctoral research explored the working lives and wider narratives of workers involved with the Call Centre Industry in both the North East of England and India.


2 PhD Studentships in Medical Humanities at the University of Sheffield, UK

Start: October 2013

Application Deadline: 20th June 2013

More Info: http://mhs.group.shef.ac.uk/studentships

Medical Humanities Sheffield (MHS) would like applications for 2 PhD studentships commencing 1 October 2013. The studentships are attached to the medical humanities projects outlined below.

Medical Humanities Sheffield is a new interdisciplinary research and teaching Centre at the University of Sheffield devoted to sponsoring research and teaching at the interface between medicine and the humanities. The studentships accordingly offer exciting opportunities for interdisciplinary research, and offer direct opportunities for engagement with patients, bringing the Humanities and the worlds of medicine into direct conversation.

Applicants are invited to choose from the seven projects on offer, make contact with the supervisors, discuss the project, consider their suitability for the work proposed, and make a formal application. For further details about the studentships and the application process contact Prof Phil Withington (p.withington@sheffield.ac.uk) or Prof Ian Sabroe (i.sabroe@sheffield.ac.uk) for general enquiries, and the supervisors for project-specific questions.


1.      Biopolitics, disability and culture. Supervisors Prof Dan Goodley and Dr Esme Cleal. This project focuses on the historical and cultural development of the use and meanings of disability terms such as autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Details can be found here

2.      Technology, disability, and identity. Supervisors Dr Nicky Hallett and Prof Ian Sabroe. This project provides direct clinical contact to use self-writing techniques to analyse and understand the impact of modern technology on the patient response to diagnosis and treatment of a severe lung and heart disease, pulmonary hypertension. Details can be found here

3.      Psychological interventions in psoriasis. Supervisors Dr Andrew Thompson and Prof Andrew Messenger. This project provides direct patient contact to develop psychological models to intervene effectively in the treatment of social anxiety in patients with psoriasis. Details can be found here

4.      The socio-economic effects of geography on oral health. Supervisors Dr Sarah Barker and Dr Dimitris Ballas. This project explores, in part using modern simulation models similar to some gaming programs, how geography affects a particular dimension of health. Details can be found here

5.      Communicating risk to patients. Supervisors Steven Ariss and Gareth Walker. This project looks at how clinicians communicate with their patients, using conversation analysis to understand the communication of risk in type 2 diabetes and whether communication styles alter patient decision making. Details can be found here

6.      Empty bodies. Supervisors Dr Julia Dobson and Prof Mary Vincent. This project takes a cultural and historical perspective on what makes a human body, and how experiences of bodies in different contexts, from the theatre to religious parades, inform our understanding of humanity. Details can be found here

7.      Impact of expressive writing in patients experiencing fits. Supervisors Prof Markus Reuber, Prof Brendan Stone, and Dr Ian Brown. This project seeks to make a direct test of whether expressive writing techniques can be used to make a positive impact in the lives and healthcare of patients experiencing fits from either epilepsy, or the related syndrome of non-epileptic attack disorder. Details can be found here


–        A full 3 year studentship for UK/EU students (including fees at the UK/EU rate and maintenance at £13,726pa) is available.  International students are welcome to apply but they must be able to pay the difference between UK/EU and International fees.


–        Make contact with the supervisors and determine that the projects you are interested are suitable for you, and that the supervisors are willing to support your application.

–        Obtain a brief email or letter of support from the supervisors of the project(s) you are interested in. There is no restriction on the numbers of projects that you can be considered for.

–        Submit in one email (excluding references) to s.watkinson@sheffield.ac.uk by 20th June 2013 the following documents:

o   A covering letter explaining which projects you are applying for and statement as to why you are suited to each project (no more than x1 side of A4 per project)

o   A CV

o   Supervisors email / letter of support

o   Two references (please ask your referees to email s.watkinson@sheffield.ac.uk their reference clearly including your name in the subject line or include them in your email)

o   Degree transcripts

Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interviews scheduled for the morning of Monday 8th July 2013.