The Cultures of Disability group explores the experiences of disability throughout history. We work with disabled people and academics to share the history of disability people over a 3000-year period, from ancient Greece to the modern day. We explore the cultures of disability, foregrounding the contributions of disabled people and addressing prejudice.  By making disabled people more visible, we question contemporary ideas of ‘normal’ and challenge barriers to inclusion in all walks of life. 


We want to explore new ways of doing the history of disability and to promote it in the heritage sector.  This website is where we make the results of academic research into disability history available for everyone. It is also a way for anyone to get in touch with us, and one of the ways in which we can share co-produced history and collaborations with disabled people’s organisations. We provide links to online events and events in Manchester on this website too. We welcome enquiries from anyone (including potential PhD students) who want to work with us. 

We study the long history of disability to promote the inclusion and integration of disabled people into society.   Here are some of the staff and students based at Manchester Metropolitan University who research into the experiences and cultures of disability, past and present. 

Meet the teamPHD Students


A portrait image of Rosamund Oats

Rosamund Oates:  Cluster Leader 

I am interested in the history of deafness and disability. I have received funding from Leverhulme and British Academy to examine the experiences of deaf people in Renaissance England, and I am writing a book, Silent Histories: Deafness, Hearing and Hearing Loss in Early Modern England. I have published on the history of sign language, preaching and deaf people, and the legal status of deaf people and deaf artists. I am studying BSL.  I enjoy collaborating with Deaf and disabled people’s organisations and exploring how to make disabled history more accessible.

Kathryn Hurlock: Co-Leader

Kathryn is a historian of pilgrimage and war, though not always at the same time. She is interested in the role of pilgrimage as a route to healing for the disabled, depictions of miraculous cures in medieval and modern texts, and the use of religion pilgrimage by veterans as a route to physical and psychological wellbeing. She also researches combat stress in medieval warfare and has recently co-edited and contributed to Combat Stress in the Pre-Modern World (Palgrave, 2022) with Owen Rees and Jason Crowley.

A portrait image of Kathryn Hurlock
A portrait image of Lucy Burke

Lucy Burke 

My research traverses the fields of literary and cultural disability studies and the critical medical humanities. I focus on literary, cinematic, and theoretical writing on cognitive difference, dementia, learning disability, care and aging. I also explore the role of the arts in facilitating meaningful democracy and social justice for disabled people. Recently funded projects include the AHRC Connected Communities D4D project (on which I was Co-principle Investigator) and my work as a consultant on the ACE Transforming Leadership programme with Access All Areas Theatre Company.

Marcus Morris

Marcus Morris is a Senior Lecturer in Modern European History. His work is focused on labour and socialist movements in Britain and more widely. He has examined the response of those movements to the returning soldier, their disabilities, and the wider attitudes of the movement to issues around disability. Marcus also supervises a number of PhD students who examine issues of disability and the returning soldier, especially in the context of the First World War.

A portrait images of Marcus Morris
A portrait image of Anna Bergqvist

Anna Bergqvist

Dr. Anna Bergqvist is Reader in Philosophy. She is also the Director of the Values-Based Theory Network at St Catherine’s College University of Oxford. Her research explores the philosophy of psychiatry and public mental health, with a special focus on shared decision-making. Bergqvist is currently Co-Principal Investigator of the National Institute for Health research project:  Improving the Experiences of African Caribbean Men detained under the Mental Health Act: A Co-Produced Intervention Using the Silences. This is one of four projects funded to provide evidence for government policymakers as they reform the Mental Health Act. She has published widely on philosophy, mental health, psychiatry and museums, and is one of the editors of the forthcoming: The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Public Mental Health.

April Pudsey

Dr April Pudsey is a Reader in Roman History, and also Associate Director of the Manchester Centre for Youth Studies. She is an expert in ancient demography, childhood and youth. She has published widely about the everyday lives, concerns and cultures of young people in antiquity, including on disease and infirmitas in the Roman world and cultural attitudes around the body. Her current book project explores the impact of ancient disease environments on health, wellbeing and the body.

A portrait image of AprilPudsey
A portrait image of Jason Crowley

Jason Crowley - Staff (History)

Jason is a historian of the Ancient world. His main research interest is the psychology of combat, particularly the close-quarters close-order combat favoured by the classical Greeks. His first book, The Psychology of the Athenian Hoplite: The Culture of Combat at Classical Athens (2012) applies modern theories of combat motivation to the ancient world, and subsequent publications have explored both the human experience of war and the effects war has on those who survive that experience.

Dr Gabriele Aroni

Dr Gabriele Aroni is Senior Lecturer in Games Art. With a background in architecture, digital media, and communication, his research focuses on the visual semiotics of digital games, as well as the portrayal of cultural heritage. As a burn survivor, he analyses the representation of scarred characters in digital games and how it relates to narrative and gameplay.

A man with a beard wearing glasses and smiling

PhD Students

The Culture of Disability PHD Students