Neko Mellor


I came to Leeds in 2009 to study English Language and Literature. In 2016, I was the recipient of the Wellcome Trust MA Studentship, and returned to the School of English to complete my MA in English Literature part time, with a focus on the medical humanities. My MA dissertation explored the little-known author Grace Stuart, and her 1953 rheumatoid arthritis memoir Private World of Pain. My research into Stuart’s memoir, which documented her treatment with cortisone obtained from the United States, took me to the University’s Special Collections where much of Stuart’s private correspondence is now housed. 

In 2018, I received the Inga Stina Ewbank Scholarship to complete my PhD in the School of English, supervised by Professor Stuart Murray and Dr Amelia DeFalco. I am currently a full-time PhD student, working on my thesis which is entitled ‘Reading with the Body: Embodied Encounters with the Chronic Pain Narrative’.

Research interests

My PhD thesis, ‘Reading with the Body: Embodied Encounters with the Chronic Pain Narrative’, examines the literary representation of a number of encounters common to the experience of chronic pain. I focus on accounts by contemporary writers such as Sonya Huber, Eula Biss, Anne Boyer, and Sinéad Gleeson. My thesis explores these authors’ dramatisation of pain assessment, invalidation, treatment, and diagnosis, considering themes such as gender and body shame, the enumeration of enduring pain, and the ascription of psychiatric labels to women’s physical suffering. I read these narratives alongside biomedical writings about chronic pain, holding a space for both types of narratives to be considered alongside one another, ultimately destabilising Elaine Scarry’s claim that pain is resistant to language and inherently inexpressible. 

Whilst I work at the intersection of medical humanities and cultural disability studies, my work undertakes what I call a crip-materialist analysis: my readings choose to foreground and validate the experience of being a crip, neurodivergent scholar, drawing on cripistemology and influenced by New Materialism and Affect Theory. Rather than bowing to the imperative to restore a false sense of order, this means that my research chooses to lean into experiences which accompany reading, such as dissociation, brain fog, and the fragmentation of meaning which results from needing a break, seeing them as generative parts of my analysis. I am also attentive to the material qualities of the chronic pain narratives, considering how their physical manifestation can generate affects which can be productive for reading.

Professional memberships

  • Associate Member of the British Pain Society


  • BA English Language and Literature (Leeds)
  • MA English Literature (Leeds)