Stuart Murray

Stuart Murray


Medical Humanities, especially cultural representations of disability and mental health; body augmentation; narratives of the posthuman; postcolonial heath; postcolonial encounter and settlement.

BA, MA, Exeter; DPhil, Waikato, NZ.


I came to Leeds in September 2000 after spending 7 years working at Trinity College, Dublin and my research interests are varied and range across cultures and time periods. The focus of my research lies in medical humanities, cultural disability studies and representation of the posthuman. I am the Director of the Leeds Centre for Medical Humanities, a multidisciplinary research centre that works with both academic and non-academic partners. I have a special interest in autism and associated cognitive conditions and my most recent book is Autism, published in September 2011 as the first volume in Routledge's new 'Integrating Science and Culture' series, which aims to look at high-profile contemporary cultural, scientific and health issues from as broad a knowledge base as possible. My work has a specific focus on issues of cultural representation and narrative and in 2008 Liverpool University Press published my monograph Representing Autism: Culture, Narrative, Fascination as the first book in its 'Representations: Health, Disability, Culture and Society' series, of which I am the founding editor. My major writing project at the moment is a book-length study of the relationship between disability and the posthuman, with a focus on a variety of 20th and 21st century texts, events and debates. It will be published by Liverpool University Press. Other current writing projects include articles looking at the intersection of disability and engineering perspectives on the idea of prosthetics, and the technologies and represenations of hands. With my colleague Clare Barker editied The Cambridge Companion to Literature and Disability, which was published in 2018.

With colleagues in English and Mechanical Engineering at Leeds, and partners in Robotics at Sheffield, Design in Dundee and Medical Humanities in Exeter, I am working on a research project entitled 'Imagining Technologies for Disability Futures', that looks at questions of body augmentation and extension, design, robotics, disability, care and assistive technologies.  'Imagining Technologies for Disability Futures' was funded by a Wellcome Trust Seed Award in 2017 and was also the topic of a University of Leeds Sadler seminar series that ran throughout the 2016-2017 academic year. In 2017, I received an APEX award form the British Academy, Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering for a project entiitled 'Engineering the Imagination'. APEX Awards are specifically to develop work that highlight interdisciplinary connections and 'Engineering the Imagination' was showcased at the first ever British Academy Summer Shocase in June 2018. More generally,  I work closely with the Wellcome Trust and am the current Chair of its Medical Humanities Expert Review Group for Investigator and Collaborative Awards, and serve on its selection panels. My research has been funded by the Wellcome Trust, AHRC and British Academy.

I was initially trained, in New Zealand, as a postcolonialist however, and I still maintain a strong interest on the literatures, film and cultural history surrounding the issues of postcolonial encounter and settlement, especially that from New Zealand and the Pacific. In 2008 I published one of the first monographs on an Indigenous filmmaker when I examined the work of pioneering Maori director Barry Barclay in my book Images of Dignity: Barry Barclay and Fourth Cinema, and I have also co-edited two collections of essays on New Zealand cinema. I bring my research interests together in my current work on postcolonial health, especially in connection to Indigenous cultures. My AHRC award, ‘Our Own Image: The Legacies of Maori Filmmaking in Aotearoa/New Zealand’, had a research strand on public health. The project had major events in both Leeds and Auckland in the 2015-2016 academic session. I also co-edited (with my colleague Clare Barker) a 2010 special issue (vol. 4, issue 3) of the Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies entitled 'Disabling Postcolonialism', and in 2016 I co-edited. with Ziad Elmarsafy and Anna Bernard, What Postcolonial Theory Doesn't Say.

My sense of my own research is that, because of the areas it covers, it necessarily has to extend beyond the written word. In Leeds I have worked closely with the NHS and community health groups, trying to bring research questions surrounding health and disability to bear on issues of policy, and nationally I work with charities, reading groups and disability activists.

I am on the editorial boards or advisory panels of a number of journals, including: Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies, Disability Studies Quarterly, Journal of New Zealand Literature, and Studies in Australasian Cinema. I am happy to answer any questions relating to submissions to either the LUP 'Representations' series, and I am always keen to enter into dialogue with anyone interested in discussing disability representation.

Graduate supervision

I am supervising PhD research into the following topics: critical strategies in contemporary mental health life writing; ideas of disability and the voice in postcolonial literatures and film; posthumanism and the body in global science fiction; and reading cancer narratives in literature, film and television. In the past I have supervised graduate work on a number of disability and postcolonial topics, including: the semiotics of schizophrenia; representations of the figure of Christ in contemporary fiction and cultural theory; post-1988 Australian fiction and the reworking of the convict narrative; the representation of disabled and exceptional children in contemporary postcolonial writing; questions of commodification and the market in narratives of cognitive disability; multiculturalism and contemporary Aboriginal women's writing; the uses of medievalism in post-1945 writing from Australia; transgression in the journals of eighteenth-century Pacific exploration; the use of travel narratives in contemporary Caribbean writing; the work of New Zealand novelist Janet Frame; and the representation of the Pacific in nineteenth-century fiction and ethnography. I have also examined over 20 PhDs both in the UK and internationally.

I would welcome interest or enquiries from potential research students thinking of working on any issue connected to representations of disability and mental health, the medical humanities, the posthuman, or Australian/New Zealand writing or film (especially in connection to Indigenous cultural practice).

Recent activity

I give lectures, talks and lead seminars to a variety of academic and non-academic audiences. I have given keynote lectures or presented invited papers in Hong Kong, Taipei, Ottawa, the Einstein Institute in Berlin, New York, Dublin, Liverpool, Sheffield, York, Lancaster, Manchester and Birmingham. I have also talked at a Special School in Newbury, at the Debating Matters event in London, been invited as a guest critic to an international film festival in Poland, and taken part in a special media panel at the National Autistic Society's international conference. I have been on BBC Radio discussing autism, and on Canadian television talking about indigenous cinema. I enjoy the mix of academic conferences and other public engagement events.

In April 2018, at the Champs Hill recording studion in Sussex, a recording was made of 'Scenes from Autistic Bedtimes', a song cycle with music by Cheryl Frances-Hoad and my libretto. The songs will be released on Cheryl's CD, Magic Lantern Tales, in October 2018.


  • Professor of Contemporary Literatures and Film
  • Director, Leeds Centre for Medical Humanities

Research interests

Further specifics on my medical humanities research projects can be found on [link to new Centre for Medical Humanities pages]

Films of our medical humanities work can be found on the Centre for Medical Humanities YouTube channel:

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • BA (English Literature & American and Commonwealth Arts Studies)
  • MA (American Studies)
  • DPhil (Postcolonial Literatures)

Student education

At undergraduate level I teach across the full range of 20th and 21st literatures and film, with a particular focus on disability, mental health and posthumanism, I also supervise final-year projects across a range of modern and contemporary topics. At postgraduate level I teach cultures of postcolonial encounter and settlement, with a specific focus on literature from New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific.

Research groups and institutes

  • Medical Humanities Research Group
<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>