DRF News

CFP One Day Interdisciplinary Symposium on Non-Reproduction: Politics, Ethics, Aesthetics (London, UK: Feb 2013)

Event: Non-Reproduction: Politics, Ethics, Aesthetics: One Day Interdisciplinary Symposium

Date: Friday, 1st February 2013 ~ Venue: Birkbeck College, University of London
Cultural anxieties concerning biological reproduction often pivot around the notion of the non-reproductive body, in which intersecting fears about class, race, sexuality, gender and disability are encoded. Media discussions of abortion rates, teenage use of contraception, and gay marriage all register the perceived threat of sex without procreation. In a broader sense, the imperative to safeguard the future by ‘thinking of the children’ is powerful ideological currency, animating activists on both the left and the right.
A number of writers have responded to this tendency by considering the aesthetics and ethics of the non-reproductive. Recent work in cultural studies has emphasised the radical potential of the subject that refuses reproduction. In Unmarked: The Politics of Performance (1993), Peggy Phelan locates the radicalism of feminist performance art in its status as ‘representation without reproduction’. More recently, Lee Edelman’s No Future: Queer Theory and the Death Drive (2004) argues that resisting heternormativity entails refusing to participate in ‘the cult of the child’. According to Judith Halberstam (2008), Edelman’s work is part of an ‘anti-social turn’ in queer studies which ‘always lines up against women, domesticity and reproduction’.
Inspired by Halberstam’s intervention, this one-day interdisciplinary humanities symposium invites critical perspectives on the idea of non-reproduction. How is the assumption that the non-reproductive necessarily resists the dominant order undermined by right-wing strategies that seek to limit reproduction, such as forced sterilisation, ‘population bomb’ rhetoric, discriminatory welfare policies or the stigmatisation of single parents? Is it helpful to draw a conceptual opposition between the reproductive and the non-reproductive? Are there alternatives to this framework? What are the implications of ‘non-reproduction’ and anti-futurity for approaches to the archive and the preservation of cultural and social documents?
Contributions are welcome from graduate students and early career researchers across the arts and humanities, as well as thinkers, activists, writers and artists working outside academia.
Topics could include, but are not limited to:
• pro-choice politics versus reproductive justice
• global warming and population discourse
• Refusing parenthood in art and literature
• Infertility and IVF
• Contraception and abortion politics
• Queer theory and the family
• Gay marriage in the media
• Feminism and maternity
• Museums and heritage
• Textual repetition and reproduction
• Discourses about the child (e.g. the child as commodity)
• The disabled child and controversial sterilization procedures (eg. The Ashley  Treatment)
• The politics of non-reproduction in an age of accumulation
• Copyright law
• Gustav Metzger and destruction in art
• Derrida on the archive
• Performance theory
Abstracts of 250-300 words for 20-minute papers should be sent to non.reproduction@gmail.com by Monday 1 October 2012.
Organizing Committee:
Fran Bigman, PhD Researcher , Faculty of English, University of Cambridge
Harriet Cooper, PhD Researcher, Department of English and Humanities, Birkbeck College, University of London
Sophie Jones, PhD Researcher, Department of English and Humanities, Birkbeck College, University of London

DRF News

CCDS Event: ‘Mad in Court: Mentally Disabled Pro Se Litigants and the Complex Embodiment of Mind’ (October 2012, UK)

Event: Centre for Culture & Disability Studies (CCDS) Research Seminar 

Date: Weds. 3rd October 2012: 2.15pm-3.45pm ~ Venue: Eden, 109, Liverpool Hope University, UK. 

Brief Description:

Mad in Court: Mentally Disabled Pro Se Litigants and the Complex Embodiment of Mind

~ Prof. Catherine Prendergast (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA)

Despite the recent increase in self-advocacy by people who are mentally impaired, the legal realm is still considered a risky area for self-representation, as though “nothing about us without us” should stop at the courthouse door. To complicate this notion, Catherine Prendergast presents two cases that demonstrate both the persuasive force and jurisprudential significance of mentally impaired pro se litigation. The contention is that these litigants offer something akin to Tobin Siebers’s notion of “complex embodiment” in the sense that they lend concrete form to the oppressive and flattening abstraction of mental illness. They also provide first-hand accounts of the barriers that hamper inmate efforts to engage in self-expression and advocacy. These accounts question the mind-body dualism implied in the very notion of embodiment.

Catherine Prendergast is Professor of English at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she teaches courses in disability studies, rhetoric, and writing. Her articles on the subject of mental impairment have appeared in SAQ: South Atlantic Quarterly, College English, and The Disability Studies Reader (3rd edition). She has co-edited (with Elizabeth Donaldson) a special issue of the Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies on the topic of Representing Disability and Emotion.

For further information from the organisers, please contact: Dr. David Bolt: boltd@hope.ac.uk