I completed a BA in English Literature at Cardiff University, and an MA at Queen's University, Belfast. I secured funding from the Department for the Economy for a PhD in 2020. My PhD developed from my MA dissertation ‘A Mixture so Queer’: The Forerunner and the Ideologies of Charlotte Perkins Gilman which ignited an interest in feminist eugenic writing and set the historical context for my future work.
However, my foremost area of research is feminist disability studies as it utilizes the well-developed body of feminist theory as a framework for developing the area of critical disability studies. My own interest in disability comes from a combination of personal experience and working as a campus assistant and note-taker for Ulster University student support services between 2015 and 2019.
The term 'disability' carries a weight of social and medical connotations that do not accurately reflect all of the individuals to which they are applied. It is important to be mindful of this context when using the terms associated with disability and this linguistic complexity underlines a need for further progress in this area.
The working title of my PhD research is 'The Spectre of Disability in American Feminist Eugenic Writing, 1850 - 1945.' This grew from my interest in Feminist Disability Studies as it brings together the emerging field of critical disability studies with intersectional feminism to provide a deeper understanding of disability as a representational system akin to race, gender or sexuality. A re-engagement with historical material from the American eugenics movement is a central focus of this work as the body of literature makes continuous references to national fitness, deficiency, and a dehumanising biologised rhetoric that evokes the categories of disability as a contaminent to society, the white race and the position of women. The language and assumptions of the ability/disability system are continually employed throughout medical evaluations and coercive sterilisation laws of this period and these were unduly applied to women. This thesis will explore the associations made between women and disability through an analysis of this body of literature; by bringing together the journalistic and scholarly efforts of eugenic feminist writers, and by highlighting how these writers inscribed ableism as a focal point of early incarnations of feminist theory.
My key teaching interests are in the areas of first-wave feminism, American eugenic writing and feminist disability studies. However, I am also interested in utopian/dystopian literature, contemporary feminist theory, research methods, children's literature and alternative forms of literature like graphic novels, illustration and film.
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Expertise related to UN SDGs
In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):