Archive - Wellcome Trust fully-funded PhD

Disability in Coalfields Literature c.1880 -1948: A Comparative study

Graduate Centre blocks

Academic Supervisor: Dr Kirsti Bohata

This PhD forms part of a five-year research project funded by the Wellcome Trust entitled Disability and Industrial Society: A Comparative Cultural History of British Coalfields, c.1780- 1948. The project is led by Swansea University, in partnership with the Universities of Aberystwyth, Northumbria and Strathclyde.

The project asks how important was industrialization in shaping conceptions and experiences of disability between 1780 and 1948?  It compares the coal industry in South Wales, Scotland and the North East of England and focuses on: the effects of economic and technological developments; the role of medical and welfare services; the consequences of politics, trade unionism, and social relations; and the implications of these historical factors for the literary genre of coalfield narrative. Disability is broadly defined to include physical and sensory impairments and chronic conditions but not mental illness or learning difficulty.

The PhD will be a comparative study of disability in the literature of the three coalfields from the late nineteenth century to 1948.  The broad research questions are as follows:

  • What were the characteristics of disability in coalfield literature between c.1880 and 1948?
  • How did narrative (literary, biographical and journalistic) representations of disability in coalfield literature engage with the economic, social, gendered and political history of disabled people?
  • How has the changing imagery of disability in literary and other narratives of the coalfield been used to create, challenge, and debate broader cultural identities?

The successful candidate will have the opportunity to engage in analysis of non-fictional forms of writing, including biography, journalism and historiography and will work in communication with the historians and their sources.  Training will be provided in the use of digital tools for data-sharing and analysis (NVivo) and use NVivo as a research tool within the collaborative context of the project.  The successful candidate will participate in team discussions about data analysis, methodology and emerging themes. 

The PhD is based at the Centre for Research into the English Literature and Language of Wales (CREW), where the successful candidate will join a vigorous and friendly postgraduate community and have the opportunity of joining the interdisciplinary Research Group Health, History and Culture at Swansea University. 

The Academic Supervisor will be Dr Kirsti Bohata, a specialist in Welsh writing in English and Director of CREW.  The second supervisor is Professor Dai Smith, historian and critic. 

Applicants with a background in one or more of the following subjects, listed in no particular order, are particularly welcome: Scottish Literature, Welsh Literature in English, Literature of North-East England, Disability studies, Industrial Literature.

The PhD studentship covers fees, a budget for conference and archival research trips and a stipend as follows: Year 1 £19,919; Year 2 £21,542; Year 3 £23,298.

For further enquiries, please contact Gabriella Wasiniak, Graduate Centre Administrator (

Closing date: 2 July 2012