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 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 PhD thesis explores post-2010 literature and film in austerity-era Britain, examining how depictions of disability are uniquely placed to expose, resist, and challenge austerity politics. My primary texts depict a diverse range of physical and mental differences, some of which complicate the dis/ability binary, such as  Ken Loach’s film I, Daniel Blake (2016), Niall Griffiths’ novel Broken Ghost (2019), novels from the emerging genre of “Up Lit”, and a growing canon of creative works from the British disability film industry. I examine how these texts respond to benefits reform, precarious work, and cuts to public services. Drawing connections between disabled and debilitated populations, I consider the potential for solidarity, allyship and the formation of crip communities.

My research interests include:

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

Conference papers

‘Tracing the Borders of Neoliberal Inclusion in Austerity Britain through the Emerging Genre of “Up Lit”’, Borderlands: Postcolonial Formations of Connection and Separation, University of Leeds (June 2022)

‘Revealing the Violence of Austerity Through Aesthetics of The Undead’, Medical Humanities: (In)Visibility, the 4th annual congress of the Northern Network for Medical Humanities Research, University of Durham (April 2021, virtual)

‘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)


Foundations of English Studies


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

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

Research Impact

In collaboration with the British Film Institute, I made the film Disability On Screen: Past, Present and Future. In conversation with disabled actors, presenters, and filmmakers, the documentary explores the history of ableism in British film and television as well as the socio-political implications of misrepresentation, the ongoing practice of “cripping up”, what progress has been made and what still needs to be achieved. The film contributed to the BFI’s Press Reset campaign, launched their 2021 Busting the Bias festival, and will be hosted on the BFI Player (link forthcoming). 


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