An iHuman researcher will work with the duo behind the world’s first Tourette’s superhero as part of a new research project.
Dr Kirsty Liddiard, Research Fellow in the School of Education and in the Institute for the Study of the Human (iHuman), will work as an academic consultant with Touretteshero founders Jess Thom, Touretteshero’s alter ego, and Matthew Pountney as part of their Wellcome Trust Engagement Fellowship.
Established in 2010, Touretteshero raises awareness of the challenges people with Tourette’s face, but embraces humour and creativity in its approach in order to take ownership of the laughter typically associated with the condition.
Since then Touretteshero have performed at at Glastonbury, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, DaDaFest in Liverpool and the Unlimited Festival at London’s Southbank Centre. Touretteshero’s critically acclaimed show, Backstage in Biscuit Land has been on an extensive UK tour as well as to Europe, North America and Australia.
Earlier this year Thom and Pountney were awarded a three-year Wellcome Trust Fellowship to explore the topic of disability. As part of this, they identified Dr Liddiard as a key collaborator to guide them through current theoretical and political understandings of how disability is conceptualised by society.
Dr Liddiard will also support the pair to access new understandings of research methodologies and connect them to the current intellectual, political and transdisciplinary debates around disability, culture and humanness.
Dr Liddiard said: “The power and radicality of Touretteshero’s work comes in its bringing together of disability politics, creativity and disability culture. Touretteshero offers an important “way in” for people to understand disability in new, affirmative and artistic ways – I’m really excited by the possibilities of our collaboration”.
Jess Thom said: “An Engagement Fellowship will allow us to increase our knowledge in key areas of social science and neuroscience, giving us a foundation from which we can lead discussion between scientists and people with lived experience.
“By extending our networks and building relationships with researchers, we will cultivate imaginative approaches to collaboration. Our learning will inform a body of new creative work that will engage wide-ranging audiences with current research relating to disability, difference and neurodiversity”.
Matthew Pountney said: “Working with Jess for over a decade has given me a deeper insight into the dynamics of disability culture and the role it has to play in educating and informing us all. Helping bring this message to a wider, transdisciplinary audience will capitalise on our work already undertaken and help embed our combined practice in a more sustainable and valued form.”
Touretteshero will headlining this year’s ESRC Festival of Social Science as part of ‘Bring on the Biscuits: Celebrating the Diversity of the Human Mind’ on Tuesday 7 November.