The Disability on Screen Network welcomes members from a variety of backgrounds, including academic researchers and postgraduates, film and television professionals, writers, artists, activists, clinical and healthcare workers, and anyone with an interest in contemporary representations of disability in visual media, anywhere in the world.
Membership is free, and all members receive a quarterly newsletter, containing information about the work currently undertaken by members of the network, together with updates and commentary on the latest news and developments on the topic of disability on screen.
To join, please send an email with the subject header “DOSN Membership” to firstname.lastname@example.org, with the following details:
- Your full name and occupation
- A short paragraph outlining your experience of, or interests in, the topic of disability on screen. We will upload this to our members page here.
List of Current Members
Our current members are listed below, in alphabetical order via surname:
Dr. Susan Anderson
Dr. Susan Anderson is Senior Lecturer in English at Leeds Trinity University. Her research focuses on literary and historical representations of disability, and primarily upon early modern ideas of disability, including mental health and illness. She is also interested in how pre-eighteenth-century disability and attitudes towards illness, health and difference are represented on screen.
Dr. E. Anna Claydon
Dr. E. Anna Claydon is a lecturer at the University of Leicester. Anna writes: “I have been working formally on disability and the media (particularly but not exclusively film and TV) since 2009, when my research group IDeoGRAMS ran a series seminars on the topic. Since then, in addition to conference papers, we have published two chapters in the book Reframing Disability? Media, (Dis)Empowerment, and Voice in the 2012 Paralympics (2015) and I have a forthcoming article on the TV series Cast Offs (Channel 4, 2009). We are currently working on a project about TV evangelists, faith healers and disability (with Steve King and Jo Whitehouse-Hart). I am also beginning a study on disability in music, particularly in film (film and music are my two fields of research). For the last couple of years, I have contributed to the Leicester DocMedia Festival with a disability themed event, working with John Coster, formerly of Citizens’ Eye. Much of this interest originates from being raised in a disability-sensitive family: my mother had polio at the age of three and so much of my experience of the world has been seen through her eyes… and feet.”
Len is a professional screenwriter, filmmaker and Senior Lecturer at Northumbria University, on the Film and Television Production course. He is currently undertaking research for his PhD, titled: The Representation of Intellectual Disability in Scripted Film and Television Productions. Len has worked for a number of years with the actors of Blue Teapot Theatre Company in Galway, Ireland’s only dedicated theatre company for actors with intellectual disabilities. In 2015 he is directing a feature film version of Christian O’Reilly’s play Sanctuary, written exclusively for the actors at Blue Teapot. It is exceptionally rare to assemble such a cast together for a feature film, and Len’s hope is that in the future it will be ubiquitous. Len says: “For years theatre companies have been ahead of the game when it comes to equality of representation, with established brands such as Gaeae, Chicken Shed, Mind The Gap, The Lawnmowers here in Newcastle and of course Blue Teapot in Galway leading the way. Television has experimented with inclusive casting, such as in the recent Paul Abbot series No Offence. However, on the small and big screen, the practice of “cripping up” (a phrase coined by playwright Kaite O’Reilly) is still a contentious issue. For me there is no question that for actors with ID, film is their natural medium. The issue is not with the actors, but with the industry for it’s lack of insight and patience, and the audience, who have become accustomed to the stereotypes perpetrated by Hollywood.”
Daryl Cox is Learning Support Assistant at Darlington College and is currently undertaking an MA in Disability Studies by distance learning at the University of Leeds. His primary research interest is representations of disabled people on television, with a particular emphasis on how these representations challenge or reinforce aspects of current society widely accepted as ‘good’ – such as work, and ‘bad’ – such as welfare. His project draws on diverse shows, from Ricky Gervais’ Derek, to the 2012 Paralympic Games and surrounding advertisements. Daryl says: “I am also interested in UK educational policy and the effects of the growing numbers of academies and free schools on access to appropriate and equal education for disabled learners. I support disabled learned in the classroom in an FE college and so I am interested in post-16 curricula for disabled learners and the procedures they have to go through in order to access and continue to access education.”
Shweta Ghosh is a documentary filmmaker and researcher in India. She has explored her interest in disability, cuisine, travel and music through research and film projects. Her debut documentary, Accsex, a film exploring notions of beauty, body, sexuality and disability, was awarded Special Mention at the 61st Indian National Film Awards 2014 and has been screened across India and abroad. The film has been appreciated for its rights-based approach to disability and sexuality and has been used widely as advocacy and training material by NGOs and academic institutions. Shweta also has two peer-reviewed publications in Food Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal (USA) and SubVersions Media and Cultural Studies Journal (Mumbai), which discuss representational politics on Indian food television. She has also produced two other documentaries which explore the social anthropology of food practices.
Shweta’s interest in disability found root in her personal experiences but grew through familial and professional exposure to discussions on disability. Her professional training as a documentary filmmaker brought further strength to her understanding of the various facets of disability on screen, specifically in the Indian context. In the future, she looks forward to making more films that address the relationship between disability, expression and film.
Haley Gienow-McConnell is a doctoral student in History and Disability Studies, and teaching assistant at York University, Toronto, ON. She is currently preparing a dissertation which critically examines representations of disability on the CBS television series The Waltons.
Slava Greeberg is a Ph.D. candidate and lecturer in the Department of Film and Television, the Faculty of the Arts at Tel Aviv University. Slava’s MA thesis was titled Body in Conflict: The Disintegrated Body in Israeli Post-Second-Intifada Films. Slava teaches courses which focus on the contribution of Critical Disability Studies to Cinema Studies; “Extraordinary: Cinema and Disability” and “Body in Cinema”. She is currently writing her dissertation, supervised by Prof. Anat Zanger, about animation (including animated documentaries) and disability, using phenomenological methodology. She recently published “More Than Meets the Eye: The Haptic Spectatorship Experience of Short avant-garde Animation about Vision Disabilities“, Frames Cinema Journal 5 (2014).
Dr. Abir Hamdar
Abir Hamdar is a Lecturer in the School of Modern Languages and Cultures at Durham University. She has a primary research specialism in modern Middle Eastern literatures, film and cultures with a particular interest in questions of health, illness and disability. Her monograph The Female Suffering Body: Illness and Disability in Modern Arabic Literature (Syracuse University Press, 2014) is the first major study of female physical illness and disability in modern Arabic literature. She has also has published articles, short stories and plays on gender, illness/disability, cinema and exile and has co-edited a collection of essays entitled Islamism and Cultural Expression in the Arab World (Routledge, 2015).
Prof. Stuart Murray
Stuart Murray is Professor of Contemporary Literatures and Film in the School of English at the University of Leeds, where he is also the Director of the university’s interdisciplinary Centre for Medical Humanities. He is the author or editor of 8 books, including Representing Autism: Culture, Narrative, Fascination (Liverpool University Press 2008) and Autism (Routledge 2012). His next book is Disability and the Posthuman: Bodies, Minds and Cultural Futures, to be published by Liverpool University Press.
Prof. Emily Jane O’Dell
Emily Jane O’Dell teaches at the American University of Beirut. Previously, she taught at Columbia, Brown, and Harvard, where she received an award for excellence in teaching. As a disability activist and mental health advocate for over a decade, Emily recently created the first mental health awareness initiative in the Middle East run by young people with mental illness, and she is also currently teaching physical disability workshops in Lebanon. Before embarking on her current academic research on disability in Iranian cinema, she contributed a chapter on “Iranian-Russian Cinematic Encounters” to Empires and Revolution: Iranian-Russian Encounters Since 1800 (Routledge 2013).
In addition to Emily’s academic publications, her writing has appeared in The New York Times, International Herald Tribune, Salon, Christian Science Monitor, NPR, Huffington Post and Jadaliyya, and she has worked on a number of feature films and television shows in the U.S. For her interdisciplinary research on the intersections of healing, Islam/Sufism, and shamanism, Emily has been a Fulbright-Hays Fellow (Indonesia), an Edward A. Hewett Policy Fellow (Tajikistan/Afghanistan), a Columbia University Pepsico Fellow (Uzbekistan), an IREX Fellow (Czech Republic/Slovak Republic/ Kyrgyzstan/Kazakhstan), a Harvard Traveling Fellow (Iran), an American Council Fellow (Turkmenistan), and a State Department Fellow in Critical Languages (Persian/Tajiki). Emily received her PhD, MA, MFA, and MA from Brown, and an additional Masters from Columbia. She completed her Postdoctoral Fellowship at Harvard under the direction of Homi Bhahba. She regularly performs the Javanese gamelan in concert at Lincoln Center and Asia Society, and her plays have been read or produced at Lincoln Center, the Public Theatre, Trinity Repertory Company, and City Center.
Dr. Sarah Olive
Dr. Sarah Olive is a Lecturer in Education at the University of York, UK. Her research is primarily concerned with the function of Shakespeare and his works in popular culture and education internationally. Her monograph, Shakespeare Valued: Education Policy and Pedagogy, 1989-2009, was published in 2015. She also enjoys theatre reviewing. She is regularly invited to speak at international Shakespeare events, including those held in Nihon, Oxford, Warwick, Birmingham, York and Canterbury Christ Church universities in 2015. She is also currently preparing to publish an article on the BBC3 documentary Growing Up Downs, about a touring production of Hamlet by young people with learning difficulties.
In 2014-2015, Sarah travelled to Japan, preparing an issue of Teaching Shakespeare magazine focused on local educators’ experiences, and gave research seminars at Waseda, Japan Women’s and Takasaki Universities, also promoting the British Shakespeare Association (BSA) education network. This was made possible by GB Sasakawa Foundation funding. Sarah has successfully applied for funding for an ongoing research project on Shakespeare in South East Asian education. Chinese University of Hong Kong funding will enable her to undertake a comprehensive study of performances throughout the history of the Chinese University Shakespeare Festival in Spring 2016.
In 2014-15, Sarah traveled to Japan, preparing an issue of Teaching Shakespeare magazine focussed on local educators experiences, giving research seminars at Waseda, Japan Women’s and Takasaki Universities, and promoting the British Shakespeare Association education network. This was made possible by GB Sasakawa Foundation funding. In September 2015, she will travel to Korea to explore educational experiences of Shakespeare in relation to national identity, funded by a British Council UK-Researcher Links grant. Sarah has successfully applied for funding for an ongoing research project on Shakespeare in South East Asian education. Chinese University of Hong Kong funding will enable her to undertake a comprehensive study of performances throughout the history of the Chinese University Shakespeare Festival in Spring 2016.
Linda Sargent is a freelance reader, writer and disability awareness worker based in Oxfordshire. She has worked extensively in community outreach, arts, training and development work since the 1980s, often in conjunction with museum and library services in the reminiscence and disability fields. This included compiling and running a course called ‘Understanding Disability’ for the University of Sussex’s Continuing Education programme, combining film, writing and other art forms. She was extensively involved in various Shape Arts organisations during the 1980s and 1990s, in part as Chair of South East Arts Artability.
She has also been a freelance writer and disability awareness trainer and mentor for Ithaca Arts Oxford, working on various projects including inter-generational work and with other artists. She was co-author and performer on the ‘Science and the Story’ project at the Natural History Museum and Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford in 2005, and reminiscence/writing facilitator at the Botanic Gardens as part of the Big Draw Campaign in 2005.
Linda is the author of Words and Wings, a training guide in creative reminiscence work produced for the South East Museum Library and Archive Council (SEMLAC), as part of the DfES-funded ‘Drawn from Memory’ project. She has also authored one of the guides in the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council’s (MLA) Resource Disability Portfolio, on Outreach and Partnerships.
More recently, Linda has worked with the Cultural Consulting Network to outline planned uses of the MLA’s collections in the South East to tell disabled people’s stories. This supported the development of the Paralympic Region strand of the South East cultural agencies’ Accentuate programme for 2012.
Dr. Mirna Solic
Mirna Solic is a lecturer in Czech at the School of Modern Languages and Cultures, College of Arts, University of Glasgow. Her research interests converge on representations of disability in different media in former communist countries (e.g. former Yugoslavia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland), with a particular focus on the impact of post-1989 social and cultural changes on perceptions and representations of different disabilities. Mirna says: “I am looking forward to developing or participating in an international research network offering cross-disciplinary perspectives on this under-researched topic.”
Susan Vertoont is a researcher and teaching assistant at the University of Ghent, Belgium. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Communication Management and a master’s degree in Communication Sciences, with a focus on film and television studies. In 2013, she started working at the Department of Communication Sciences at Ghent University under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Sofie Van Bauwel, where she is also a member of two research groups: CIMS (Centre for Cinema and Media Studies, Faculty of Political and Social Sciences) and Disability Studies (Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences).
As a teaching assistant, she has supported courses in Cultural Media Studies, Television Studies, Media and Gender and Audiovisual Media Training and us currently following a Specific Teacher Training Program. Her PhD project focuses on media representations of people with disabilities in Flanders, with a particular interest in representations of disability in television content. By conducting a quantitative and qualitative content analysis, this project aims to acquire a better overview of the images of disability, broadcast by Flemish television channels. It also seeks to obtain more insights into the way audiences (with a disability) give meaning to these images in relation to their own identity.
Melaneia Warwick is a Participatory Arts Practitioner, Researcher and Project Manager. She gained her Masters degree in Inclusive Arts from the University of Brighton in 2013 and in the same year was awarded a Winston Churchill Travel Fellowship to research the health benefits of arts studios for people with learning disabilities. She undertook 10 weeks of research in Japan and the USA. She is currently an AHRC-funded PhD candidate at the University of Brighton in her third year of study, exploring how social disability policy can be informed by the arts practices of adults with profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD). The study is informed by an innovative methodology that makes creative and analytical use of film as both data and creative output.
Melaneia is also the Project Manager for ArtWorks Alliance, a UK-wide cross-sector project that takes a strategic focus on the participatory arts sector. Her professional interests include the training of participatory artists and developing reciprocal learning events with care and health practitioners.
Dr. Alison Wilde
Alison Wilde is Senior Lecturer at Leeds Beckett University. Her primary research interests are related to the depiction and reception of images of disability and gender in a range of popular media, including film, television and children’s literature. She has published on the topics of disability, soap opera/television drama, celebrity, audience and identity, gender, educational inclusion, disabled families, social care, and research methods. Alison is currently writing a book on disability in comedy films, and is completing research on young people’s interactions with representations of disability and impairments in films.
Marion Yakova is a PhD candidate at Glasgow Caledonian University. Marion says: “My research topic area is in media studies, specifically looking at television drama and discourse analysis. While there has been research carried out on representations of people with physical disabilities; representations of adults with learning disabilities is an area that is under researched. The aim of my research is to analyse the representation of adults with learning disabilities in British TV drama. I analyse the production decisions and question why these representations exist. I also consider the impact of these representations; looking closely at how they can marginalise adults with learning difficulties by infantilising them. I aim to gain a better understanding of the impact of this discourse and encourage producers of media texts to question their representation and consider portraying a fairer representation. I look at the multimodal aspects of selected media texts and secure my research in discourse, ideology and semiotic theoretical frameworks. I use particular dramas as case studies to illustrate the benefit of multimodal discourse analysis. By analysing mise-en-scene, sound, lighting, framing, editing and dialogue etc., as well as characterisation and narrative, I aim for a better understanding of representations of adults with learning disability.”
Magda Zdrodowska is Assistant Professor at the Institute of Audiovisual Arts, Jagiellonian University, Poland. She writes: “I am an anthropologist and media researcher. My path to disability studies was through research into ethnic and national minorities’ media representations (which was the topic of my Ph.D thesis at Jagiellonian University and which resulted in book published in Polish: Telewizja na pograniczach (Television on the Borderlines) in 2013. Engagement with minority issues has lead me to deaf culture, which is at the centre of my research interests. My current project explores the mutual relations between the deaf communities and technology. Among the technologies I investigate are electronic media, communication technologies as TTY and captions, hearing aids and cochlear implants, and (last but not least) silent cinema. I concentrate on films produced by the American National Association of the Deaf at the very beginning of the 20th century, that had a profound impact on deaf culture and sign language – an impact comparable to the influence of the written alphabet on oral tradition. My research interests encompass media archaeology and media ecology, history of technology, media studies, and deaf studies. In 2015 I received a grant from the Polish National Science Centre for project entitled: ‘The Telephone, Moving Pictures, and Cyborgs: Mutual Relations between Technology and Deaf Communities in the 20th and 21st centuries.’“