Dr James McGrath, Senior Lecturer

Dr James McGrath

Senior Lecturer

Naming Adult Autism begins with the concern that if ‘preventing’ autism via pre-natal screening becomes possible, then literature and culture (as well as science) could impact on the future of autism. Harmful stereotypes may one day affect decisions around abortion. For this reason, critical study of how autism is depicted across contemporary cultures will become vital as biogenetic research proceeds. 

The book explores changing meanings of autism via novels (Forster; Coupland; Atwood), poetry (Murray; Limburg), television (The Office) and popular music (The Who’s Tommy). In a chapter applying literary critical approaches to the leading scientific research on autism, the book uncovers flaws in much-publicized findings and associated questionnaires. <<https://theconversation.com/not-all-autistic-people-are-good-at-maths-and-science-despite-the-stereotypes-114128  

Naming Adult Autism also includes autobiographical footnotes, in which James reflects on aspects of autism rarely discussed elsewhere. He read from these, and several of his poems, on BBC Radio Three’s poetry broadcast The Verb in 2018. << https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0b0xk6n >>

Naming Adult Autism: Culture, Science, Identity was published by Rowman & Littlefield International in 2017 and issued in paperback / kindle in 2019.

Current Teaching

James teaches on the English Literature and Creative Writing modules Writers’ Workshop (Year 1), Texts and Theories (Year 1), Poetry (Year 1), Life Writing (Year 3) and Voice and Diversity (MA). James’s forthcoming Year 3 module, Literature and Medicine, emphasises the centrality of literary studies and creative writing to Disability Studies. 

Research Interests

James is now completing his second book, a set of poems titled ""an autistic figuration"". These poems use various constraints to experiment with and challenge contemporary notions of autism. In 2019, James gave a series of invited readings from ""an autistic figuration"" at events including the Huddersfield Literature Festival; the autism arts festival (University of Kent); Flock Festival (Leeds); and Word Vomit, an evening organised by Leeds Beckett students.

His earlier poems featured in publications including International Times, PN Review, DreamCatcher, Shadowtrain, Guardian Higher, The Interpreter’s House and Smiths Knoll. 

James’s next academic publication, forthcoming 2020, is an essay titled ‘Doctor, I’m Damaged: Cultural and Medical Mythologies of Nicky Hopkins and the Rolling Stones.’ Exploring the legacy of pianist Nicky Hopkins through the lens of disability studies, especially his work on the Rolling Stones’ Beggars Banquet album, the essay also confronts the uneasy relationship between disability studies and addiction. 

Dr James McGrath, Senior Lecturer

Ask Me About

  1. History
  2. Autism
  3. Media
  4. Music
  5. Culture
  6. Literature
  7. Mental Health

Selected Outputs

  • Mcgrath JP (2012) The Beatles' Uses of Literacy. In: Bailey M; Eagleton M ed. Richard Hoggart: Culture and Critique (International Cultural Studies). Critical, Cultural and Communications Press,

  • Mcgrath JP (2011) John, Paul, George and Richard: The Beatles' Uses of Literacy. In: Bailey M; Eagleton M ed. Richard Hoggart: Culture and Critique. Critical, Cultural and Communications Press,

  • Mcgrath JP (2010) Cutting Up A Glass Onion: Re-Reading The Beatles' History and Legacy. In: Jarniewicz J; Kwiakowska A ed. Fifty Years with the Beatles. University of Lodz Press, pp. 303-326.

  • Mcgrath JP (2008) Belonging and Isolation in John Lennon and Paul McCartney's Songs. In: Ganis R ed. Displacement and Belonging in the Contemporary World. European Studies Research Institute (ESRI),

  • Mcgrath JP (2007) Reading Post-War Britain in Lennon and McCartney's Imagined Communities. In: Crone R; Gange D ed. New Perspectives in British Cultural History. Cambridge Scholars Publishing,

  • Mcgrath JP (2001) What Are we Going to Do Now it's All Been Said? Christian Perspectives in the Songs of U2. In: Research for a New Millennium. University College of Ripon & York St John,