Literature, science and medical humanities

Group members

Abs Ashley


Abs Ashley's research forges new connections between the literary health humanities, critical neurodiversity studies, and neuroqueer theory, with a focus on contemporary and British and American literatures. Their doctoral research, which they are developing into their first book, investigated neuro/gender entanglements in autistic ‘own’ literatures, with an emphasis on hybridised modes. Abs has forthcoming publications exploring neurodivergent textualities, neurodiversity in the literary health humanities, and will also contribute to a seminal collection on neuroqueer theory in 2024. Their current research projects examine neuroqueer (a)socialities as mode and praxis in contemporary literary forms, and neurodivergent-inclusive pedagogical practice.

Doug Battersby

Doug’s research explores how novelists’ representations of thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations have evolved over the history of the form. He is currently working on a book studying representations of the heart in Victorian and modernist fiction. The book brings together theory of the novel, medical history, and the history of emotion.

Andrew Bennett

Andrew has published widely on British Romantic literature and on 20th-century and contemporary Anglophone literature. His 2017 monograph Suicide Century: Literature and Suicide from James Joyce to David Foster Wallace (Cambridge University Press) addresses medical and socio-cultural questions of suicide and suicidality in 19th and 20th-century literature.

Andrew Blades

Andrew’s research is predominantly in the medical humanities. He has published on the AIDS writing of Mark Doty, James Merrill and John Weir, as well as co-editing Poetry and the Dictionary (Liverpool University Press, 2020). His latest project is on cultural understandings of hoarding disorders. He teaches on a wide variety of units in American literature, queer writing, celebrity studies and medical humanities.

Lesel Dawson

Lesel’s research examines bereavement and the relationship between grief and creativity. She is the Arts and Culture Lead for The Good Grief Festival and collaborates with artists and charities on grief-related projects. She has published on aspects of the history of emotion and psychology, including lovesickness, trauma, shame and hallucinations.

Josie Gill

Josie’s research interests include black British and Caribbean writing, African American literature, science and medical humanities, fiction, life writing and memoir. She is the author of Biofictions: Race, Genetics and the Contemporary Novel (Bloomsbury, 2020).

Elizabeth Gourd

Elizabeth Gourd is an early-career researcher with interests in modernism, classical reception, and the medical humanities. Her interdisciplinary doctorate on Virginia Woolf examined how the author’s study of Greek literature, combined with experiences of grief, trauma, and illness, shaped her life and work. Lizzie is currently completing a monograph on this research and hopes to develop an impact-led, interdisciplinary project in  medical humanities in the near future. 

Natalie Ferris

Natalie is the author of Abstraction in Post-War British Literature 1945-1980 (OUP, 2022), and her work has appeared in a number of journals. She is presently at work on two books -- the first a monograph on sensory overload in twentieth and twenty-first century literature and design, and the second an edited collection of essays on women, modernism, and intelligence work.

Cleo Hanaway-Oakley

Cleo has research interests in literary modernism and embodiment, pregnancy and pregnancy loss, disability, and the senses. She also produces creative, collaborative, and public-facing work in these areas, including a mini-project on colour blindness with the Science Museum, London; a discussion on blindness and art for BBC Radio 3; and poems about pregnancy loss. She is currently working on a monograph entitled James Joyce and Non-Normative Vision. She is on the management committee for Bristol’s Centre for Health, Humanities and Science.

John Lee

John has research interests in the body and its languages in Renaissance drama, especially Shakespeare and Ben Jonson. Other research interests include vaccination, literary and medical journals, graphic medicine, and the constitution of medical knowledge around 1800.

Ulrika Maude

Ulrika Maude has published on modernist and contemporary literature, sensory studies, affect, medicine, and philosophies of embodiment. She is the author of Beckett, Technology and the Body (Cambridge UP, 2009)and Samuel Beckett and Medicine (Cambridge UP, 2024). She has co-edited The Cambridge Companion to the Body in Literature (2015) and is editor of the forthcoming volume, Key Concepts in Medical Humanities (Bloomsbury Academic, 2024). She is currently working on a monograph on modernist literature and habit. She is director of the Centre for Health, Humanities and Science at Bristol.

Maria Vaccarella

Maria Vaccarella works on contemporary illness narratives, using a narratological and comparative approach. She is particularly interested in issues of unreliability and closure, as well as narrative medicine, critical disability studies, narrative bioethics, and graphic medicine.

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