DRF News

Event: Disability History Lecture (12th Dec 2013: Leuven, Belgium)

We have the pleasure to pass on an invitation to the IVth disability history lecture.

This time Josephine Hoegaerts will take you on an intriguing journey entitled: “To guard the public speaker from physical disability: Vocal practices and acoustic constructions of the able body in the long nineteenth century“. An abstract of her talk can be found below.

Mark the date: 12th December 2013 from 16 until 18 o’clock in the heart of Leuven (Belgium).

In case you cannot attend or would like to have access to recordings of previous lectures just click on the following link: http://www.disabilityhistorylectureseries.wordpress.com

If you would like to receive some more information about this lecture or the lecture series, please do not hesitate to contact pieter.verstraete@ppw.kuleuven.be

Abstract: Disability is often conceptualized in visual terms: its historical presence is imagined as a paradoxical situation of invisibility (in the historical record, and in most historical work), and of a simultaneous conspicuousness (according to Garland-Thomson, “the history of disabled people in the world is in part the history of being on display”). Especially in the nineteenth century, the story of disability is one of increasing scrutiny as disabled people became subject to not only casual stares, but also the medical gaze and the disciplining institutional gaze. To afford these gazed upon historical actors more agency, vocal metaphors abound: researchers have strived to “give a voice” to those forgotten by conventional history, or to simply “speak up”. While analyses of the hierarchic gaze and practices of gaining voice have debunked modern notions of the disabled body, they also seem to relegate disabled agency to the voice – and therefore run the risk of buying into what Jonathan Sterne has called the ‘audiovisual litany’ in which the powerful, rational world of the eye is juxtaposed with the more somatic, emotional sound of the powerless.

In this lecture, I will try to turn the metaphoric audiovisual litany on its head by focusing on those disabilities that were only audible. Vocal impairments (such as aphasia, dysphonia and stuttering) have an ambiguous relation to the body: they only manifest themselves during the act of speaking, and are therefore necessarily ‘performative’. Through speech impediments, a more fluid notion of disability presents itself, which calls attention to the necessity and inherent danger of the constant performance of vocal ‘ability’, and also problematizes the practice of ‘speaking up’ against the (medical) gaze.

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DRF News

Fourth Keynote Title and Abstract Announced for Theorising Normalcy and the Mundane: 3rd International Conference (Chester, UK: June 2012)

Last but certainly not least, we are pleased to announce the details of our fourth keynote for Theorising Normalcy and the Mundane: 3rd International Conference at the University of Chester (June 26th-27th 2012).

Cassie Ogden (University of Chester, UK) will be discussing….

Title: Gases, Liquids and Solids: Reclaiming Fluidity in a Liquid Modern World

Abstract: Much academic focus has led to the understanding of the commodification of the body, which has resulted amongst other things in the devotion of time, money and effort, to pursue the ‘perfect’ body.  This commitment to an idealised/normalised asceticism is often manifested in the actual or appeared alteration of the size and shape of the body with the ‘help’ of various diets, clothing, surgery, drugs and exercise. One’s corporeality therefore partially shapes social reality and statuses according to the degree to which bodies are accepted into society.  Despite the importance placed on the body in terms of appearance and productivity in the contemporary world, mundane functions of the body are often deemed shameful in this fallacious imaginary of the body resulting in the denial and/or veiling of regular bodily functions.  Repulsion and exclusion can be felt by those possessing ‘leaky’ bodies or more accurately bodies that leak without control. This paper utilises a Baumanesque analysis of modernity to highlight the convenience of a controlled body to a consumerist society.  Also reflective of Shildrick’s (2009) plea for troubling dominant discourses and instead envisaging all bodies as non-stable, Bauman’s work creates the potential to imagine an emancipated society where static, constricting notions of the body are obsolete. Through the location of society as liquid modern (Bauman, 2000), the common sense notion of ‘bodily control’ will be interrogated and highlighted as a dangerous benchmark that people are best to resist.

Our three other confirmed keynotes are:

For Further Details on the conference, including registration – please click here