DRF News

CFP: Gothic Studies special issue on ‘Gothic and Medical Humanities’

Proposals are invited for a special issue of Gothic Studies exploring intersections between the Gothic and medical humanities.

Gothic Studies has long grappled with suffering bodies, and the fragility of human flesh in the grip of medical and legal discourse continues to be manifest in chilling literature and film. The direction of influence goes both ways: Gothic literary elements have arguably influenced medical writing, such as the nineteenth-century clinical case study. In this second decade of the twenty-first century, it seems apt to freshly examine intersections between the two fields.

The closing years of the twentieth century saw the emergence of medical humanities, an interdisciplinary blend of humanities and social science approaches under the dual goals of using arts to enhance medical education and interrogating medical practice and discourse. Analysis of period medical discourse, legal categories and medical technologies can enrich literary criticism in richly contextualising fictional works within medical practices. Such criticism can be seen as extending the drive towards historicised and localised criticism that has characterised much in Gothic studies in recent decades.

Our field offers textual strategies for analysing the processes by which medical discourse, medical processes and globalised biotechnological networks can, at times, do violence to human bodies and minds – both of patient and practitioner. Cultural studies of medicine analyse and unmask this violence. This special issue will explore Gothic representations of the way medical practice controls, classifies and torments the body in the service of healing.

Essays could address any of the following in any period, eighteenth-century to the present:

  • Medical discourse as itself Gothic (e.g., metaphors in medical writing; links between case histories and the Gothic tradition), and/or reflections on how specific medical discourses have shaped Gothic literary forms
  • Illness narratives and the Gothic (e.g., using Arthur Frank’s ‘chaos narratives’ of helplessness in The Wounded Storyteller).
  • Literary texts about medical processes as torture/torment in specific historical and geographic contexts (including contemporary contexts)
  • Doctors or nurses represented in literature as themselves Gothic ‘victims’, constrained by their medical environment
  • Genetic testing; organ harvest; genetic engineering; reproductive technologies; limb prostheses; human cloning, and more.

 To date the links between Gothic and psychiatric medical discourse have been the most thoroughly explored, so preference will be given to articles exploring other, non-psychiatric medical contexts in the interests of opening up new connections.

Please email 500-word abstract and curriculum vitae to Dr Sara Wasson, s.wasson@napier.ac.uk.

Deadline for proposals: 1 October 2013.

The official journal of the International Gothic Studies Association considers the field of Gothic studies from the eighteenth century to the present day. The aim of Gothic Studies is not merely to open a forum for dialogue and cultural criticism, but to provide a specialist journal for scholars working in a field which is today taught or researched in almost all academic establishments. Gothic Studies invites contributions from scholars working within any period of the Gothic; interdisciplinary scholarship is especially welcome, as are readings in the media and beyond the written word.

For more information on Gothic Studies, including submission guidelines and subscription recommendations, please see the journals website.

To view Gothic Studies online, see here.  To sign up to alerts for Gothic Studies, see here.

DRF News

Call for Papers: ‘Disability and the Gothic’ Edited Volume

The relationship between disability and the Gothic, as Martha Stoddard Holmes rightly observes, has been undertheorized by scholars of the genre. This is surprising, given the intensity with which the Gothic has historically explored and exploited the prejudices associated with human difference as manifested in physiological and mental deviations from a perceived norm.

The proposed volume, which will be presented within the established International Gothic Series, published by Manchester University Press, will explore the uses and abuses of disability in Gothic fiction from the eighteenth century to the present, and will advance a genuinely international and multicultural analysis of this neglected aspect of Gothic stylistics. We particularly welcome papers that discuss Gothic textuality beyond the established European and American canon.

Issues which might be explored by contributors could include (but are not limited to):

  • Abject bodies                                           
  • Human vivisection
  • Amputation                                            
  • Leprosy
  • Birth defects
  • Mental illness
  • Body Integrity
  • Phantom limbs
  • Body modification                                  
  • Pigmentation variations
  • Branding and scarification                    
  • Post-apocalyptic bodies
  • Conjoined siblings                                  
  • Prostheses
  • Corrective surgery                                  
  • Queer bodies
  • Degeneration                                          
  • Ritual disfigurement
  • Hermaphroditism                                  
  • Supernumerary limbs
  • Hospital culture                                      
  • Zoomorphism

Proposals of approximately 500 words should be sent to the editors by 30 September 2013.  The editors are: William Hughes (Department of English, Bath Spa University, UK) email w.hughes@bathspa.ac.uk and Andrew Smith (School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics, University of Sheffield, UK) email andrew.smith1@sheffield.ac.uk.


If you are interested in this, you might also be interested in…

Call For Papers for Precarious Positions ~ Encounters with Normalcy – 4th Annual International Conference ***Theorising Normalcy and the Mundane*** 3rd + 4th September 2013 at Sheffield Hallam University can be found here.



New Publication: Corporeality: The Body and Society, Edited by Cassandra A. Ogden and Stephen Wakeman

Please click on the link to find the flyer for a new book entitled Corporeality: The Body and SocietyThis volume, edited by (DRF member) Cassie Ogden and Stephen Wakeman, brings together work by established experts alongside new voices to provide an accessible and stimulating snap-shot of the role of the body in society in the early-twenty first century. The new essays collected in Corporeality: The Body and Society demonstrate some of the unique advantages attainable through studying the body theoretically. Focusing in on a series of embodied fields related to lifestyle media, war, disability, drugs and mental health, the book re-states the fundamental importance of a body-centred approach in the social sciences. Available now for purchase from:
DRF News

CCDS Event: The Bhopal Disaster, Literature, and Charity Advertising (November 2012, UK)

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

Date: Wednesday 7th November 2012: 2.15pm-3.45pm ~ Venue: Eden, 109, Liverpool Hope University, UK. 

Brief Description:

The Bhopal Disaster, Literature, and Charity Advertising ~ Dr. Clare Barker (University of Leeds, UK)

The 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy was the world’s worst industrial disaster. It has killed 25,000 people to date, injured many thousands more, and is still causing sickness and disabilities nearly 30 years later due to toxic chemicals in the city’s groundwater supply. Dr. Clare Barker considers representations of the disabled inhabitants of Bhopal in both charity advertising and literary works relating to the disaster, in particular Indra Sinha’s Booker Prize-shortlisted novel Animal’s People (2007). As a former advertising copywriter, Sinha was instrumental in setting up the Bhopal Medical Appeal in the UK and is still involved in its activities. Dr. Barker contends that there is a productive synergy between literature and advertising in the BMA’s campaigns: while disability charities frequently rely on tropes of helplessness and pity, often supported by sensational or sentimental images of disabled children, Dr. Barker argues that the BMA engages with fictional narrative techniques and consequently achieves more empowering representations in its publicity. As a complement to this, Animal’s People contributes to the BMA’s agenda by promoting awareness of Bhopal’s unresolved medical crises while also interrogating the politics of “western” medical aid interventions and problematizing the representational strategies of charity discourse. Dr. Barker considers literature’s role within health activism and points to ways in which literary texts such as Animal’s People might be used to inform the representations of disability and medical aid within charities’ campaign strategies.

Clare Barker is Lecturer in English at the University of Leeds. She is author of Postcolonial Fiction and Disability: Exceptional Children, Metaphor and Materiality (2012) and guest editor, with Stuart Murray, of a special issue of the Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies, namely, Disabling Postcolonialism: Global Disability Cultures and Democratic Criticism (2010).

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

DRF News

CCDS Event: Foreign Bodies: Disability and Beauty in Toni Morrison’s Writing (June 2012, UK)

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

Date: Weds. 27th June 2012: 3.15pm-4.45pm ~ Venue: Eden, 109, Liverpool Hope University, UK. 

Brief Description:

Foreign Bodies: Disability and Beauty in Toni Morrison’s Writing

~ Dr. Alice Hall (Université Paris-Diderot, France)

This paper examines the relationship between disability and beauty as a central preoccupation of Toni Morrison’s fictional writing, her critical discourse and her most recent work as a curator. I am interested in how Morrison’s critical writing about race and identity intersects with shifting notions of beauty in her fiction, but also, in turn, how these ideas can provide a conceptual framework for writing about literature and disability in general.

Dr Alice Hall holds an MPhil in Criticism and Culture and a PhD in twentieth century literature from the Faculty of English at the University of Cambridge. She recently completed a postdoctoral position at the Centre for Advanced Studies, University of Nottingham and is the author of Disability and Modern Fiction: Faulkner, Morrison, Coetzee and the Nobel Prize for Literature published by Palgrave Macmillan in November 2011. She currently teaches at Université Paris Diderot and is working on her second book. She has taught widely on twentieth and twenty-first century literature, including topics such as Modernism, the body, short stories and the novel.

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

DRF News, Publications

New issue of JLCDS (5:1) is now available

The new issue of the Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies (JLCDS)  is now available.  Volume 5, Issue 1 is a general issue bringing together the research interests of literary, cultural, and disability scholars from around the world.

Articles include:

  • Ann M. Fox (Davidson College, North Carolina, USA) considers Lynn Nottage’s Ruined;
  • Alex Tankard (University of Chester, UK) investigates of the place of the Victorian consumptive in Disability Studies;
  • D.H. Lawrence and the aesthetics of disability form the basis of an article by Valerie L. Popp (University of California, Los Angeles, USA);
  • Narrative constructions of motherhood and autism are the focus for Josje Weusten (Maastricht University, Netherlands);
  • Natalie Abbott (University of California, Berkeley, USA) writes about the Positive Exposure photography project;
  • Vivian Yenika-Agbaw (Pennsylvania State University, USA) focuses on disability in Hans Christian Andersen’s Tales.

The issue also contains comments from the field and book reviews by Pauline Eyre (University of Manchester, UK), Liz Crow (Roaring Girl Productions), and Michael Gill (University of Illinois at Chicago, USA).

The new issue is available in print and online formats to individuals and institutions who subscribe via Liverpool University Press; it is also part of the Project MUSE collection.