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, though with a specific focus on 21st C topics and texts. I work mainly in medical humanities, cultural disability studies and representation of the posthuman. I was the founding Director of the Leeds Centre for Medical Humanities, a multidisciplinary research centre that works with both academic and non-academic partners, and am part of the Steering Group of the Northern Network for Medical Humanities Research. 

My current work focuses on the relationship between disability and posthumanism and my monograph Disability and the Posthuman: Bodies, Technologies and Cultural Futures will be published by Liverpool University Press in Spring 2020. My work on technology has led to collaboration with engineers, roboticists and designers and I am the PI on a 5-year project, ‘Imagining Technologies for Disability Futures’, that is funded by a Wellcome Trust Collaborative Award in Humanities and Social Sciences and which will run from January 2020 to January 2025. The project was previously funded by a Wellcome Trust Seed Award and an APEX Award for interdisciplinary research, provided by the British Academy, Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering. I work closely with the Wellcome Trust and am the current Chair of its Medical Humanities Expert Review Group for Investigator and Collaborative Awards. My research has also been funded by the AHRC.

In 2018 I co-edited The Cambridge Companion to Literature and Disability with my Leeds colleague Clare Barker and previous disability-focused publications include: Representing Autism: Culture, Narrative, Fascination (2008), the first book in Liverpool University Press’ 'Representations: Health, Disability, Culture and Society' series, of which I am the founding editor; and Autism (2011), the first volume in Routledge's 'Integrating Science and Culture' series. I have also published recent articles on the interactions between cultural and engineering theories in the conception, design and production of prostheses, disability and work, and disability and posthumanist memory. I am currently writing an article on hands, touch and affect.

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 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 work on postcolonial health, especially in connection to Indigenous cultures. My AHRC award, ‘Our Own Image: The Legacies of Māori 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 (again with Clare Barker) a 2010 special issue of the Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies entitled 'Disabling Postcolonialism' (vol. 4, issue 3). In 2016, along with Anna Bernard and Ziad Elmarsafy I co-edited the collection What Postcolonial Theory Doesn't Say, published by Routledge. 

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; reading cancer narratives in literature, film and television; and theorizing the deployments of chronic pain. 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, posthumanism, 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

Research interests

Further specifics on my medical humanities research projects can be found on the 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

Current postgraduate researchers

<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>