CFP: ‘Autism Narratives’ Special Issue of Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies

Journal: Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies

Call for Papers for Special Issue: Autism Narratives

Guest Editors: Stuart Murray (English, University of Leeds) & Mark Osteen (English, Loyola University Maryland)

2018 will mark the 10th anniversary of the publication of two major studies on the cultural representations of autism, Stuart Murray’s monograph Representing Autism: Culture, Narrative, Fascination and Mark Osteen’s edited collection Autism and Representation. In the intervening years, autism representation has proliferated across media and been re-configured diagnostically in the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM-V. This special issue asks: what current topics shape the cultural conversations around autism? Has the greater profile of the condition over the last ten years led to improvements in the ways it is discussed and greater sophistication in its representations? Have increases in cross-and multi-disciplinary academic work produced more nuanced accounts of autism experiences? Where does the condition fit in recent developments in Disability Studies? In short, do we now know better what is meant by an ‘autism narrative’?

Possible topics include (but are not limited to):

  • – Autism in fiction, film, and life-narratives
  • – Autism and the visual arts
  • – Music and autism
  • – DSM-V and changes in autism diagnosis; the ‘disappearance’ of Asperger’s syndrome
  • – Autism and popular media
  • – Theorising autism
  • – Medical discourses of autism
  • – Autism and social communities
  • – Autism and technology
  • – Autism and inter/dependence and care
  • – Autism and cultural, ethnic and racial diversity

Please email a one-page proposal to s.f.murray@leeds.ac.uk and mosteen@loyola.edu by February 28, 2017. Contributors can expect to be selected and notified by March 31, 2017. (Full drafts of the selected articles will be due on December 15, 2017). Please direct any questions to either guest editor. We welcome contributions from autistic/neuro-atypical persons.


CFP: ‘Discourses of Care: Care in Media, Medicine and Society’ (Sept. 2016; Glasgow, UK)

Event: Discourses of Care: Care in Media, Medicine and Society Conference

Location: Gilmorehill Halls, 9 University Avenue, University of Glasgow, G12 8QQ

Date: Monday 5th – Wednesday 7th September 2016

Deadline for proposals: Friday 3rd June 2016

Keynote speakers:

Summary: This Wellcome-funded interdisciplinary conference aims to support and foster collaborative work in relation to media and questions of care and well-being, focusing on care and care giving as critical concepts. Bringing together scholars from film and television studies, medical humanities, disability studies, and philosophy, we will debate how understandings of medical and social care are (and might be) positioned in relation to media and cultural studies. This would be a significant first step toward building inter-disciplinary alliances and driving forward work within the as yet under-determined field of ‘visual medical humanities’. The specific focus of the conference and anticipated publication/s is to explore the ways in which media do more than simply represent care and caring (although representation, of course, remains an important issue). Taking a new approach, the conference will explore how media forms and media practices (the creation, exhibition and reception of media) may act as a mode of care. Thus we wish to explore how different kinds of media programming, media technologies and media practices present opportunities in which care is manifest as both an ‘attitude’ and a ‘disposition’ (Feder Kittay).The event will underpin at least one multi-authored publication. Through this conference we will explore the politics and ethics of care-relationships and contest binary understandings of autonomy and dependency amongst individuals with cognitive and physical disabilities, carers and medical professionals. We are particularly interested in the nexus of youth (the ‘child’), age (the ‘aged’) and disability as a way of opening up alliances and challenges to popular cultural notions and representations of care and dependency. We are now looking for academics, care providers, and creative practitioners of all levels, periods, and fields to submit proposals for 20 minute conference papers.

We invite papers on topics that include (but are not limited to):

  • Relationships between care and media
  • Definitions of care in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries
  • Autobiographical representations of and reactions to care
  • Disability studies approaches to care and dependency
  • Media practices and outputs as modes of care
  • Care and the visual medical humanities
  • Adaptive technologies and care
  • Spectatorship, care, and media
  • Care, media, and children
  • Care, media, and ageing
  • Use of media in health education and rehabilitation
  • Consumer ‘choice’ and ‘autonomy’ in popular culture
  • Screen cultures in our ‘institutions of care’ (e.g. the NHS and the BBC).

Please email an abstract of up to 300 words and a short bio (100-200 words) to the conference organisers (discoursesofcare@gmail.com) by Friday 3rd June 2016. The conference team will respond to proposals by Friday 10th June 2016.

There are a limited number of travel bursaries available for postgraduate and/or early career presenters; the recipients of these grants will be asked to write a short reflection on the conference, which will be published on the Glasgow Medical Humanities Research Centre blog, and the conference website.

If you wish to be considered for one of the travel bursaries, please email us for an application form and submit it with your abstract and bio. We will contact all respondents on the outcome of their proposal by the end of June 2016. Thanks to funding from the Wellcome Trust, this conference will be free to attend.

The conference venue, the Gilmorehill Building, is fully accessible, and the conference will include accommodations such as pre-circulated papers and discussion topics, ending with an interactive roundtable discussion. For more information on access, transport, and the venue please visit our website. If you have any questions, please email the conference team at discoursesofcare@gmail.com, or contact us via @CareDiscourses.

Conference team: Prof. Karen Lury (Film and TV), Dr Amy Holdsworth (Film and TV), and Dr Hannah Tweed (English Literature).

DRF News, Uncategorized

CFP: Rethinking Disability on Screen: A One-Day Interdisciplinary Symposium (May, 2014)

Rethinking Disability on Screen: A One-Day Interdisciplinary Symposium

Date: Thursday 14th May, 2015, 

Venue: Humanities Research Centre, University of York

Website: rethinkingdisabilityonscreen.com

Twitter: @rdos2015

*** Deadline for abstracts: 16th January 2015 ***

 Keynote speakers: Stuart Murray, Professor of Contemporary Literatures and Film and Director of the Leeds Centre for Medical Humanities and Justin Edgar, Filmmaker and Founder and Creative Director of 104 Films (www.104films.com)

Cinema’s visual interest in disability registered almost from the moment of its invention. The historical tendencies of fiction film to show disabled subjects as objects of pity or comedy, as ‘monstrous’, as ‘resentful’ or as segregated from mainstream society have been critically documented from the 1980s onwards, but more recently, a number of international films featuring disability – Les Intouchables, AmourRust and BoneThe Sessions – have enjoyed both critical and commercial success.

Alongside TV coverage of the London-hosted 2012 Paralympics on Channel 4, UK terrestrial programming has addressed disability across a range of genres, from drama (Best of Men, BBC2) through comedy-sitcom (Derek, Channel 4) and social documentary (The UndateablesBodyshock, Channel 4), to mixed receptions. Such developments call for a re-examination of representations of disability on screen and their contribution to ongoing cultural, social, economic and political debates surrounding disability. This one-day interdisciplinary symposium at the University of York aims to unite postgraduates, early career researchers, established scholars and industry practitioners working across a range of fields and disciplines – including film studies, history, literature, cultural studies, gender studies, sociology and health sciences – to explore the ways in which cinema and television have reflected, and shaped, subjective and objective experiences of impairment and disability throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

We invite contributions in the form of 20-minute papers on a range of topics and genres, encompassing both fiction and non-fiction materials, as well as analyses of disability in production and reception contexts. The event will be underpinned by a number of key critical questions:


 – How visible is disability throughout the history of cinema and television? In what screen contexts is disability present? When has it been occluded, marginalised or suppressed?

 – What specific forms of disability has cinema embraced? Which has it neglected or rejected?

 – To what extent have cinema and television engaged with the emotional, physical and social implications of impairment and disability?

 – What forms of spectatorship do screen representations of disability construct/ presume?

 – How have representations of disability on screen changed over time? How much progress has been made, and what further directions should this take?


Our aims are to facilitate constructive, interdisciplinary conversations on existing scholarship, to discuss new avenues of enquiry and to promote interest and growth in this important but relatively under-studied area.

Presentation topics could include, but are not restricted to:

– disability, sexuality and romance

– disability and exceptionality

– isolation and integration

– dependence, independence, interdependence

– disability and genre (comedy, satire, romance, melodrama, thriller, documentary  soap, reality, children’s film and TV, animation, science-fiction, period drama, medical film)

– disability and film-making (able-bodied and disabled actors, directors and producers, disability activism in the entertainment industry)

– commercials, advertising and promotional material

– spectatorship and reception

– discursive exchanges between the fields of disability studies and film studies, past, present and future.


Abstracts of no more than 300 words should be emailed to rethinkingdisabilityonscreen@gmail.com by Friday 16th January, together with a brief biographical note (100-150 words).


A number of travel bursaries, primarily for postgraduate students and ECRs from the White Rose Consortium and the Northern Network for Medical Humanities (nnmh.org.uk), may be available. Details of how to apply will be announced in due course.

DRF News

CFP: Disability in World Film Contexts (edited volume)

The edited volume titled ‘Disability in World Film Contexts’ has received initial interest from Yoram Allon of renowned film publisher Wallflower Press (now part of Columbia UP).

Contributions are invited in the form of chapters that focus on an individual film or films from a specific national, regional or linguistic context. Such contributions should be of one of two types: 1) essays in the film studies or humanities traditions that give equal weight to the formal properties of cinema and the theme of disability understood in a broadly social context, or 2) anthropological, sociological or geographical approaches to disability as portrayed on film giving more weight to extra-filmic context.

Titles and 200-250-word abstracts should be submitted by 1 September 2014 by email to Benjamin Fraser: fraserb2010@gmail.com (Benjamin Fraser is Professor and Chair of Foreign Languages and Literatures at East Carolina University, author of Disability Studies and Spanish Culture [Liverpool UP, 2013] and editor/translator of Deaf History and Culture in Spain [Gallaudet UP, 2009]).

If selected for the volume, complete chapters of 7,000-10,000 words including notes and references will be due 1 July 2015. Send all correspondence to fraserb2010@gmail.com.

More Info: http://call-for-papers.sas.upenn.edu/node/56966

DRF News

New JLCDS Special Issue on Disability, Comedy and Humour out now!! (eds – Coogan and Mallett)

Volume 7, Number 3 / 2013 of Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies is now available.  (You can keep up to date with the journal by clicking here to sign up to new issue alerts, and can learn more about the title at its website page here.)

This issue is a Special Issue on Disability, Comedy and Humour edited by Tom Coogan (Univ. of Birmingham) and Rebecca Mallett (Sheffield Hallam University). It contains:


  • Introduction ~ Tom Coogan and Rebecca Mallett ~ pp.247-253


  • “People Who Look Like Things”: Representations of Disability in The Simpsons ~ Moritz Fink ~ pp.255-270

The article discusses the television series The Simpsons in the context of disability studies. Referring to David Mitchell and Sharon Snyder’s theory of narrative prosthesis, the argument is that their notion of disability as a metaphorical device falls short of the specific function of disability in satire as both a source of humor and social commentary. As the reading of The Simpsons suggests, the show uses images of the grotesque as a form of
graphic humor; furthermore, these images provide potentials of distanciation and critical thinking concerning the objectification of disability in the dominant discourse and the visualization of it in the media.


  • Cool Aspie Humor: Cognitive Difference and Kenneth Burke’s Comic Corrective in The Big Bang Theory and Community ~ Shannon Walters ~ pp. 271-288

The article explores the complexities of humor in the context of intellectual disability, autism, and Asperger’s Syndrome. Specifically, the rhetorician Kenneth Burke’s theory of perspective by incongruity is applied to humor theory, and there is a focus on his comic corrective as a way of understanding potentially transformative contexts of humor and disability. Two television shows, The Big Bang Theory and Community, are considered, the
argument being that each offers new and unexpected ways of understanding and blurring categories such as “autistic” and “neurotypical,” as well as “nondisabled” and “disabled.”


  • Handi-/Cappin’ Slaves and Laughter by the Dozens: Divine Dismemberment and Disability Humor in the US ~ Darryl A. Smith ~ pp.289-304

The article claims that insofar as “the dozens” or “capping” – black combative humor – arose out of slavery and its prohibition against fighting (which threatened “property damage”), it is fundamentally a humor of disability. Because of this more or less unique form of comedic creation and conditioning, not all contemporary American humor that deploys disability demeans it. Rather, some such humor deploys disability in remedial, considerably redemptive ways, demonstrable through black folklore and literary texts. Such texts illuminate the peculiar form of American comedy as a practice in tragic “extravagance,” one substantially born of its own extravagant source in racial bondage.


  • “Why so serious?”: Cripping Camp Performance in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight ~ Cynthia Barounis ~ pp. 305-320

Using as a case study Christopher Nolan’s blockbuster film The Dark Knight, and building from recent work on disability and humor, the article explores the disabled body as a potential site of camp performance and outrageous parody. The Joker’s sartorial flair and his commitment to style over substance, it is argued, construct him as a variation of the Wildean homosexual dandy whose superficiality is politicized as a form of queer resistance to both capitalism and the institutionalized hierarchies of the state. Furthermore, the crip dimensions of the Joker’s drag performances – and in particular, the narrative agency with which he continually destabilizes the origins of his facial scar – extends that camp sensibility beyond sexuality to explore disability as performative process rather than a pathological state. Developing a concept of disability camp not only helps us to shake up the representational terrain of both queer studies and disability studies, but also provides new and exciting opportunities for theorizing the intersections of disability, humor, and performance.


  • Invalid Animals: Finding the Non-Human Funny in Special Needs Pets ~ Brett Mills ~ pp. 321-335

The promotional material for the UK Channel 4 documentary Special Needs Pets asks, “how far are pet owners prepared to go when their pets develop special needs?” The programme recounts the stories of a number of what the voice-over refers to as “invalid animals,” and asks, “Do we love our pets too much?” In its use of music and voice-over, the programme can be seen to encourage a confusingly comic response from its audience, who are invited to find funny both the behaviour of the animals featured and that of their owners. While not simplistically equating human and non-human notions of disability, the article suggests that exploring the comic aspect of the programme gives insights into human understandings of this category. It argues that while some aspects of the programme might be seen as encouraging audiences to find disability funny, the humour more often works to confuse readings of the programme’s content, and therefore, perhaps, opens up a space for a range of contradictory understandings of disability.


  • Comment from the Field: Perspectives on Comedy and Performance as Radical Disability Activism ~ Alan Shain ~ pp. 337-346



DRF News

CFP: “Horror (as/is) Humor, Humor (as/is) Horror: sLaughter in Popular Cinema” (edited collection)

In his review of Tavernier’s Coup de torchon, David Kehr wrote in When Movies Mattered: Reviews from a Transformative Decade,

Death, violence, and moral corruption aren’t just slapstick props … but agonizingly real presences, and their comedy isn’t a release from horror, but a confrontation with it.… [H]umor and horror exist side by side,  they play on the very thin line that separates a laugh from a scream, touching the hysteria common to both.… The best black humor makes us feel the horror. (p.186)

Scholarly collections in Humor and Horror Studies have largely conceived of them as separate genres and fields. Yet popular culture has increasingly seen a rise in the emotional and visceral confluence of humor and horror—from black comedies, dark fantasy and a renewed interest in fairy tale adaptations, to freshliterary works, graphic novels, and politics and satire.

Scholarly essays are sought for a potential collection on the nexus of humor and horror—sLaughter—in popular culture texts with a primary focus on film. Topics may include, but are clearly not limited to: Genre (e.g., parody, science / speculative fiction, thriller, dark fantasy, cyberpunk / splatterpunk, “classical” comedy / drama, post-humanism, terror/ism, apocalyptica and TEOTWAWKI); Creator / Auteur (e.g., Joss Whedon, Stephen King, Chuck Palahniuk, Mary Harron, Matt Groening, Seth McFarlane, the Soska sisters, the Coen brothers, Bret Easton Ellis, Charles Bukowski, Amy Lynn Best, David Cronenberg, Tim Burton, John Carpenter); or Theory / Theorist (e.g., structuralism, grotesquerie / freakery, transgressionism, attraction=repulsion, bodily mutilation / ablation, postmodernism, biomechanics / cyborg interfaces).

We are NOT interested in Abbot and Costello, “camp,” or anything else offering the audience a chance to be “psychologically distanced” from mortal terror—beyond the fact that they are viewing images on a screen.  Though we are interested in zombies, lycanthropy, vampirism, and that lot, we envision a much broader and more scholarly collection than the fanzone tends to produce—much scarier than Twilight, etc.—that addresses the intersection of humor/horror.  We want you to make us FEEL it, and tell us why it’s important.

If you are interested, please submit a 250 word abstract and one-page CV to both Johnson Cheu (cheu@msu.edu) and John A Dowell (jdowell@msu.edu) by 15th September 2012.

DRF News

CFP: ‘Tim Burton: Works, Characters, Themes’ (for a proposed edited collection)

Mark Salisburry writes of Tim Burton:

“Burton’s characters are often outsiders, misunderstood and misperceived, misfits encumbered by some degree of duality, operating on the fringes of their own particular society, tolerated, but pretty much left to their own devices.” (Burton on Burton, xviii-xix)

Burton’s films have explored this theme of outsiders and many others over a wide array of genres.  Scholarly essays are now sought for a potential collection on the work and artistry of Tim Burton  provisionally entitled “Tim Burton: Works, Characters, Themes”. 

All films and theoretical approaches welcome. Possible topics may include but are not limited to:

  • Outsiders, Misfits, and conformity/nonconformity
  • Cyborgs, “Grotesquire/Freakery” and other bodily non-conformities
  • Heroes/Villains
  • Early work (Disney, “Frankenweenie,” Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure)
  • Burton as Auteur
  • Johnny Depp, and “Celebrity/Star” theory
  • Adaptations (Dark Shadows, Sleepy Hollow, Alice, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Planet of the Apes, James and the Giant Peach, Sweeney Todd,  etc.)
  • Ed Wood
  • Sci-fi (e.g. Mars Attacks)
  • Batman, Batman Returns!
  • Burton and fairy tales; Burton as fairy tale
  • Burton and “Beauty” (films, bodies, and otherwise)
  • Death, Ghosts, Haunting
  • Humor, Horror, Satire, Allegory
  • Family, Fathers, etc. (Big Fish, etc.)
  • Mixed-genre (comedy-horror, Beattlejuice, ormusical-comedy-horror, Sweeney Todd, etc.)
  • Suburbia/”The City”
  • Love, attraction, rejection, sexuality
  • TV work: (Alfred Hitchcock Presents: “The Jar,” ; Cartoon-TV’s “Family Dog”)

Please note: A potential publisher has expressed possible interest; work on this project may be relatively swift.

If you are interested, please submit a 250 word abstract and one-page CV to Johnson Cheu (cheu@msu.edu) by 1st October 2012.

DRF News, Events and Conferences

Love, Work and Ordinariness – 1st UK Disability Film Festival Day is announced (Friday 3rd December 2010)

The 1st UK Disability Film Festival Day takes place on Friday 3rd December across a range of venues. The event in Manchester will be hosted by Cornerhouse and is curated by Lucy Burke (Department of English, MMU) and Chris Hammond (Full Circle Arts).

Our programme includes a number of award winning short films: animation by the Canadian film-maker Shira Avni, John and Michael (2004) and Tying Your Own Shoes (2009), Liz Crow’s Frida Kahlo’s Corset (2000), and a selection of films made by people with learning disabilities from the Oska Bright film festival. There will also be an opportunity to see archive newsreel and documentary footage from the 1930s through to the 1970s and to discuss what you see with other participants.

The event is organised into three themed sessions:

  • 1.30pm – 2.30pm: Extra/ordinariness
  • 2.45pm – 3.45pm: Work
  • 4.00pm  – 5.00pm: Love

Tickets Places are limited so please book early to avoid disappointment.

The cost of the event is £5.00 waged and £2.50 unwaged/student or £2.00 per session waged and £1.00 per session unwaged/student.

To book your place, please contact Cornerhouse Box Office on 0161 200 1500

For specific access requirements, please contact Simon Fisher on 0161 200 1500 or by email: simon.fisher@cornerhouse.org

Any questions about the programme itself, should be directed to Lucy Burke, l.burke@mmu.ac.uk

The address for Cornerhouse is: 70 Oxford Street, Manchester, M1 5NH, www.cornerhouse.org