Daisy Powell

Daisy Powell


I joined the School of English in October 2019 as a postgraduate researcher. My PhD explores depictions of disability, class and resistance in contemporary austerity Britain, with a focus on twenty-first century literature and film. I am supervised by Dr Clare Barker and Professor Stuart Murray.

I hold a Master of Arts by Research from the University of Leeds, titled Challenging Ableist Perceptions of Disability and Cure Through Contemporary Cultural Narratives. My BA (Joint Honours) in English and Sociology is also from the University of Leeds.

Between 2013 and 2019 I worked for a number of disability charities, gaining knowledge of, and contacts within, contemporary disability politics and activism.

My PhD is funded by the AHRC through the White Rose College of the Arts & Humanities (WRoCAH).

Research interests

My research interests include:

  • Twenty-first century literature and film
  • Cultural disability studies
  • Medical humanities
  • Crip theory
  • Marxist theory

Analysing a range of contemporary British literature and film, my research explores how depictions of disability are uniquely placed to expose, resist and challenge austerity politics.

Aligning critical disability theory and Marxist analysis, I investigate the ways disability and class interact as a result of and in resistance to austerity, critiquing the capitalist-ableist structures that produce and oppress debilitated populations, while valuing disabled difference.

I examine how authors and filmmakers respond to the shifting perceptions and lived experiences of dis/ability, a process that is emerging due to the violence and precarity inherent in austerity, but which also leads to potential alliances among “non-productive” bodies and minds. Countering the “scrounger” narratives that underpin austerity politics, I read texts through a disability lens to reveal alternative models of labour, housing and care.

I am interested in state-of-the-nation novels such as Sebastian Faulks’ A Week in December (2009), John Lanchester’s Capital (2012), and Jonathan Coe’s Middle England (2018), Ken Loach’s films I, Daniel Blake (2016) and Sorry We Missed You (2019), Gail Honeyman’s novel Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine (2017), and a growing canon of creative works emerging from the British disability film industry.

Reviews and Conferences

Review of Crippled: Austerity and the Demonization of Disabled People by Frances Ryan for The Polyphony.org (2019)

‘Challenging normalcy and ableism: perspectives from contemporary literature’, ENQUIRE postgraduate conference Normality in an Uncertain World, University of Nottingham (September 2013).

Panellist for ‘Extreme Sports: Challenging Myths of Disability Through the International Screen’, Centre for Canadian Studies at the University of Leeds (March 2012). 


WRoCAH Doctoral Studentship, Arts and Humanities Research Council (2019).

Arts and Humanities Research Council Block Grant Partnership Studentship (Research Preparation Masters Scheme) (2012)


  • Master of Arts by Research (University of Leeds)
  • BA (English and Sociology) (University of Leeds)