Avoidance in/and the Academy:
The International Conference on Disability, Culture, and
Organised by David Bolt,
Claire Penketh, and Chris Lowry
11th-12th September 2013
Centre for Culture and Disability Studies, Liverpool Hope University, UK
For booking information, please visit the online shop.
Introduction – David Bolt and Claire Penketh (Liverpool Hope University, UK).
Panel 1: Disability in/and the US Academy – chaired by Alan Hodkinson.
Disability as Diversionary to Diversity: Normalization and Bio-Political Avoidance in Higher Education – David T. Mitchell (George Washington University, USA).
Moving from Accessibility to Inclusive Academic Discourses: Enabling the Higher Education Curricula with Disability Theory Perspectives – Sushil K. Oswal (University of Washington, USA).
I am Adam Lanza: Disclosure in the Academy after the Newtown Shootings – Lou Thompson (Texas Woman’s University, USA).
Panel 2.1: Disability in/and the UK Academy – chaired by Claire Penketh.
“It Was Like That When I Got Here”: A Prospective Exploration of Some Reasons for Academic Critical Avoidance of Disability Studies – Lisa Davies (Edge Hill University, UK).
Dysrationalia: An Institutional Learning Disability? – Owen Barden (Liverpool Hope University, UK).
“Crippled Inside?”: An Analysis of how Institutionally Impaired Narratives may Disable Counter Discourses, and Disempower the Agency of Impaired Staff in a Further Education College – Joel Petrie (City of Liverpool College, UK).
Panel 2.2: Medical Matters – chaired by Laura Waite.
Disability Studies and Medical Humanities: Intersections and Tensions – Clare Barker (University of Leeds, UK).
Does the Social Model of Disability Represent a Paradigmatic Shift in Understanding in the Education and Training of Disabled People? – Peter Wheeler (Edge Hill University, UK).
Critical Deficits: Cultural Studies under the Medical Model – Irene Rose (Liverpool John Moores University, UK), Beth Haller (Townson University, USA), and Sue Ralph (Northampton University, UK).
Panel 3.1: Difficult Reading – chaired by Owen Barden.
“Embarrassing to Read”: Masculine Disability in Dinah Mulock Craik’s A Noble Life – Theresa Miller (University of Western Australia).
The Curious Case of Impairment and the School Textbook – Alan Hodkinson and Heather Ellis (Liverpool Hope University, UK).
Fearful Bodies, Fearful Minds: Disability and Horror – Ria Cheyne (Liverpool Hope University, UK).
Panel 3.2: Disability Studies and the Arts – chaired by Claire Penketh.
Fabulous Invalids Together: Why Disability in Mainstream Theatre Matters – Ann M. Fox (Davidson College, North Carolina, USA).
Disability Studies Within Creative Writing: A Practical Approach to Theory – Cath Nichols (University of Leeds, UK).
InVisible Difference: How the Academy can Support the Disabled Dancer – Hannah Donaldson (University of Exeter, UK) and Karen Wood (Coventry University, UK).
Keynote: Disability Gain – Rosemarie Garland-Thomson (Emory University, USA).
Thursday 12 September
Keynote: “[Every] Child Left Behind”: Curricular Cripistemologies and the Crip/Queer Art of Failure – Sharon L. Snyder (Independent Scholar, USA).
Panel 1.1: Disability Studies and the Future – chaired by Owen Barden.
Building Rome: Negotiating Place and Space for Disability Studies during a Squeeze on Higher Education – Rebecca Mallett and Jenny Slater (Sheffield Hallam University, UK).
Disability Studies/Not Disability Studies/Not Not Disability Studies – Susan Schweik (University of California, Berkeley, USA).
A Different Diversity?: Disability Studies Perspectives for Post-Secondary Diversity Agendas – Lauren Shallish (Syracuse University, USA).
Panel 1.2: Cultural Identity – chaired by Alan Hodkinson.
Ars Gratia Artis: Disability Poetry, Cultural Identity, and Avoidance – Jim Ferris (University of Toledo, USA).
Reframing Drama and Theatre Studies through Disability Culture – Colette Conroy (University of Hull, UK).
All Ears But Are We Listening? – Ruth Kitchen and Ruth Swanwick (University of Leeds, UK).
Panel 2.1: Disability and Disciplines – chaired by Laura Waite
Validating Critical Avoidance: Professional Social Work, Mental Health Service Users/Survivors and the Academy – Kathy Boxall (University of Sheffield, UK) and Peter Beresford (Brunel University, UK).
The Disability Paradox: Presence and Absence in British
Coalfields Literature 1900-1948 – Alexandra Rees (Swansea
Conquering Avoidance in International Service Learning – Maria Truchan-Tataryn (Independent Scholar, Canada) and Myroslaw Tataryn (St. Jerome's University, Canada).
Panel 2.2: Literary Disability Studies and Modernity – chaired by Ria Cheyne.
How I Can Go On: The Displeasure of Modernity’s “Murphy” and his Textual Biopower – Chris Ewart (Simon Fraser University, Canada).
Signifying Otherness in Modernity: The “Subject” of Disability in The Sun Also Rises and The Sound and The Fury –Will Kanyusik (University of Minnesota, USA).
The Social Model of Disability and Modern Critical Responses to Stefan Zweig’s Beware of Pity – Emmeline Burdett (Independent Scholar, UK).
Panel 3.1: Disability and Disciplines – chaired by Ria Cheyne.
Dis/Ability, Gender and Neuro-Prosthesis – Heike Raab (Universität Innsbruck, Austria).
Wants and Needs: Marketing and Disability – Tom Coogan (University of Birmingham, UK).
Red Shirts and Black Holes: Academic Practice, Avoidance and Affect – Diane Carr (Institute of Education, University of London, UK).
Panel 3.2: Literature, Culture, and Place – chaired by Owen Barden.
Blind Spots: The (In)Visibility of Blindness in French Culture – Hannah Thompson (Royal Holloway, University of London, UK).
Enabling Scottish Literary Studies: How Disability Matters in/to Scottish Writing – Arianna Introna (University of Stirling, UK).
Disability Imagery and Approaches to Caste-Conflicts: An Analysis of Untouchable as a Primary Text on Caste Oppression – Hemachandran Karah (CSDS, New Delhi).
Disability Studies MA Launch – David Bolt and Claire Penketh (Liverpool Hope University, UK).
Special Guest speaker: Dean of Education, Revd Professor Kenneth G.C. Newport (Liverpool Hope University, UK).
Dysrationalia: An Institutional Learning Disability?
In 1993 psychologist Keith Stanovich invented the mock “learning disability” dysrationalia, defined as the inability to think rationally despite adequate intelligence. Given that organisations are often attributed with “intelligence” this paper asks: Can dysrationalia help to explain critical avoidance?
Disability Studies and Medical Humanities: Intersections and Tensions.
This paper reflects on the momentum gathering behind Medical Humanities in UK academia, considering the field’s relationship with Disability Studies. It asks: What are Medical Humanities’ politics and priorities? What tensions exist between the fields? And to what extent might Medical Humanities provide a platform for progressive disability research?
Boxall, Kathy and Peter Beresford.
Validating Critical Avoidance: Professional Social Work, Mental Health Service Users/Survivors, and the Academy.
This paper considers encounters between mental health service users/survivors (whose madness or distress may not be outwardly visible) and the academy. It focuses on the disciplinary area of social work studies and explores the social work discipline’s engagement with – or avoidance of – matters of madness and distress.
The Social Model of Disability and Modern Critical Responses to Stefan Zweig’s Beware of Pity.
In the Afterword to her 2011 translation of Stefan Zweig’s 1938 novel Beware of Pity, Anthea Bell describes the novel’s disabled character, Edith, as “pathetically self-immolating and demandingly petulant.” This judgment, echoed by countless readers and critics, presents a powerful argument against critical avoidance in literary studies.
Red Shirts and Black Holes: Ability, Disability, and Digital Game Studies.
This paper focuses on representations of ability and disability within computer games. While damaged and augmented bodies are common in games, disability in games has rarely been analyzed. The paper discusses this omission, and the ways that it resembles the various forms of avoidance encountered during academic practice.
Fearful Bodies, Fearful Minds: Disability and Horror.
Critical avoidance cuts both ways: many literary critics avoid disability, but there are equally topics, texts, and genres avoided by scholars in cultural disability studies. Horror is one such example. This paper examines disability representation in contemporary horror fiction and asks: Should disability studies be afraid of horror?
Reframing Drama and Theatre Studies through Disability Culture.
This paper addresses the idea of the openness of disability and disability studies to important questions at the centre of arts education. Notions of embodiment, self-identification, representation and difference, access and accessibility open a range of socially engaged conversations. Students can start to understand their subject in a fresh and immediate way through the contributions of disabled thinkers.
Wants and Needs: Marketing and Disability.
This paper takes a look at the way in which marketing studies and disability studies might talk to each other. As a basic first step, it looks at the conceptual overlap between the social model of disability, with its distinction between impairment and disability, and the basic conceptual model of marketing, which distinguishes between wants and needs.
“It Was Like That When I Got Here”: A Prospective Exploration of Some Reasons for Academic Critical Avoidance of Disability Studies.
The reasons for any identifiable critical avoidance are distinctly human and, by no means confined to academia. Critical avoidance is linked to an acquired knowledge of how disabled people are conceptualised and (un)accounted for within contemporary capitalist society. Nobody wants to become disabled in a society that struggles to regard disabled people as equal.
Donaldson, Hannah and Karen Wood.
InVisible Difference: How the Academy can Support the Disabled Dancer.
This paper focuses on the issues of authorship and ownership from the perspective of the professional disabled dance artist. Human rights law provides a framework for participation, but the Academy has given little thought to how this is applied in practice. The Invisible Difference project is exploring areas such as these and the paper shares the thoughts/findings so far.
How I Can Go On: The Displeasure of Modernity’s Murphy and his Textual Biopower.
Representations of disability, institutionalization, and economy in Samuel Beckett’s Murphy challenge compulsory ableism and labour. Dominant criticism romanticizes his author function by reading disability in his texts as choice or metaphor. A disability studies’ approach, along with his familiarity with disability, shifts modernist studies of the “other” in inclusive, equitable ways.
Ars Gratia Artis: Disability Poetry, Cultural Identity, and Avoidance.
Disabled poets rejecting disability culture is an act of avoidance. Poets claiming disability culture is an act with important social and political significance for the wide range of people with disabilities. This paper considers disability cultural identity and whether poets bear responsibilities to the larger community of disabled people.
Fox, Ann M.
Fabulous Invalids Together: Why Disability in Mainstream Theatre Matters.
Disability in mainstream theatre has been avoided as either invisible or infamous by theatre and disability studies scholars. Yet in reconsidering its commercial composition in drama, we can reclaim disability’s resistant presence, compelling a vital and engaged look at disability within dramatic literature in the academy as a whole.
This keynote paper explicates Harriet McBryde Johnson’s now canonical 2003 New York Times Magazine article, “Unspeakable Conversations: The Case for My Life” as a bioethical case study by applying narrative ethics, literary criticism, and rhetorical analysis. As a bioethical case study, Johnson’s narrative of the “case for my life” makes a strong claim for conserving disability, for what might be called—to follow Deaf studies—disability gain.
Hodkinson, Alan and Heather Ellis.
The Curious Case of Impairment and the School Textbook.
This paper re-casts the textbook as “majoritan,” an ontological envelope which enfolds an unresolved dialectic of impairment between constituting and constituted power into education. The proposal is that educators must reinvent notions of freedom, authority, and ethical responsibility to undermine the pernicious power of the “normalising” textbook.
Enabling Scottish Literary Studies: How Disability Matters in/to Scottish Writing.
Scottish literature has traditionally been investigated through the lenses of cultural nationalism. Reaction against this “obligatory Scottishness” (Whyte, 2010) has enabled critical engagement with gender and class preoccupations but neglect of representations of disability persists. This paper examines ways in which narratives of disability crucially inflect the different identity politics that underpin Scottish writing.
Signifying Otherness in Modernity: The “Subject” of Disability in The Sun Also Rises and The Sound and The Fury.
Two major American modernist novels, Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises and Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury (published just a year apart) are both, significantly, organized around the subjectivity of a disabled character. Focusing on these novels, this paper examines disability as an often-problematic signifier for otherness in modernist fiction.
Disability Imagery and Approaches to Caste-Conflicts: An Analysis of Untouchable as a Primary Text on Caste Oppression.
Reception of Untouchable by Mulkraj Anand concerns Gandhian, Christian, and technological strands of humanism in the book. A literary critical discussion of these, and related caste conflicts, transpire without any reference to disability imagery that the author deploys for binding them together. This paper describes the reasons for such avoidance.
Kitchen, Ruth and Ruth Swanwick.
All Ears But Are We Listening?
This paper examines deaf studies, education, and disability theory through the lens of French philosophy and cultural history. Discourses around deaf studies and learning often express the difficulty of engaging with and negotiating the unfamiliar or the unknown. A way of engaging with the concerns is considering the concepts of listening and hearing.
“Embarrassing to Read”: Masculine Disability in Dinah Mulock Craik’s A Noble Life.
The novel, A Noble Life, has been described by twentieth-century scholars as “a saccharine study of invalidism” and “embarrassing to read.” This paper explores potential reasons for this text’s on-going avoidance, which continues to marginalise and feminise the disabled man by isolating him from public discourse.
Mitchell, David T.
Disability as Diversionary to Diversity: Normalization and Bio-Political Avoidance in Higher Education.
Given higher education’s emphasis on producing normalization professionals (special educators, doctors, social workers, therapists, psychologists), disability often appears antithetical to traditional diversity missions. To counter anaemic inclusion models, we must re-imagine the materiality of disability (i.e., its basis in biology) as desirable variation rather than promote normalization as false proximity to body norms.
Disability Studies within Creative Writing: A Practical Approach to Theory.
Cultural Disability Studies could add to Creative Writing’s theoretical under-pinning. This paper shares some exercises and reading that could be used to facilitate a multi-purpose approach (i.e., to simultaneously discuss disability with students whilst teaching prose, poetry or script writing techniques typical of a Creative Writing module).
Moving from Accessibility to Inclusive Academic Discourses: Enabling the Higher Education Curricula with Disability Theory Perspectives.
This paper traces the theme of avoidance in the American Association of University Professors’ 2012 disability policy document in its failure to accept the disabled faculty as equals by setting up a new segregationist regime of dos and don’ts for governing their academic lives.
“Crippled inside?”: An Analysis of How Institutionally Impaired Narratives may Disable Counter Discourses, and Disempower the Agency of Impaired Staff in a Further Education College.
Articulating a perspective principally derived from activism as opposed to theory, this paper examines an institution’s response to its legislative participative duty. An argument is made that dominant narratives confine the organisation in an impaired construction of reality; and that as a consequence counter narratives are disabled.
Dis/Ability, Gender and Neuro-Prosthesis.
This paper reflects on the relation between the crip body, gender, and artificial limbs, like neuro-prosthesis. It discusses what happens with the binary system of gender and dis/ability with regard to the rapid development of somatechnologies in current times. The question is: Are we witness to a new posthuman world that blurs traditional borderlines between dis/ability and gender?
The Disability Paradox: Presence and Absence in British Coalfields Literature 1900-1948.
This paper argues that representations of disability are abundant in British coalfields literature, yet this is the first time that such occurrences have been mapped. There are still issues and absences within these representations, but they can provide insights into disability in a historical literary context.
Rose, Irene, Beth Haller, and Sue Ralph.
Critical Deficits: Cultural Studies under the Medical Model.
This paper addresses critical avoidance in British cultural studies. It reviews methodological reasons for this on-going, unquestioned disciplinary exclusion. Reworking and repositioning a 2008 analysis of Leonard Cheshire’s Creature Discomforts campaign, it demonstrates the critical and pedagogical deficits that such avoidance engenders.
Disability Studies/Not Disability Studies/ Not Not Disability Studies.
Recalling Simi Linton’s important 1994 essay “Disability Studies/Not Disability Studies,” this paper explores a new wave of scholarship called “Not/Not Disability Studies,” analyzing the development of critical counter-vocabularies challenging the field’s orthodoxy. Are these new critical terms the language of avoidance? Or are they significant refinements of our conceptual apparatus?
A Different Diversity?: Disability Studies Perspectives for Post-Secondary Diversity Agendas.
This paper examines “diversity workers’” perspectives on disability and utilizes a discourse analysis of the understandings of disability from which they draw. It seeks the perspectives of participants at multiple levels of institutional governance to understand the range and scope of how people who advocate for disability-related issues see their efforts as part of diversity work on campus and, at the same time, how people who work in the more traditional diversity areas understand disability as a form of diversity.
Snyder, Sharon L.
“[Every] Child Left Behind”: Curricular Cripistemologies and the Crip/Queer Art of Failure.
This keynote paper discusses the development of “curricular cripistemologies” in Higher Education. Curricular Cripistemologies critically assess how communities obstruct and/or facilitate disabled peoples’ participation presumably in the midst of their newfound “inclusion” within neoliberalism. Such failings often result in false perceptions of absence as a naturalized condition of non-normative existence.
Blind Spots: The (In)Visibility of Blindness in French Culture.
This paper begins by asking why Disability Studies is struggling to find a voice in France before using examples from nineteenth-century French literature and twentieth-century French film to demonstrate how the academy’s avoidance of Disability Studies might be countered - or indeed resisted.
I am Adam Lanza: Disclosure and Stigma in the Academy after the Newtown Shootings.
This paper examines stigmatizing discourse following the Newtown shootings, including the supportive disclosures of “courtesy” members (Goffman, 1968), as universities scrambled to confront what many portrayed as escalating violence in the face of what were often deemed “unreasonable” constraints of the ADA.
Truchan-Tataryn, Maria and Myroslaw Tataryn.
Conquering Avoidance in International Service Learning.
Using the example of a prerequisite course for international service-learning called Justice, Peace, and Development, the paper argues that a grounding in disability studies theory is imperative for students preparing to engage in community initiatives in a foreign environment. The defamiliarization of naturalized prejudice is transformative for students from all disciplines.
Does the UK Social Model of Disability Represent a Paradigmatic Shift in Understanding in the Education and Training of Disabled People?
UK disability politics has promoted social model understandings as presenting new and radical approaches to theorising disability. This paper challenges such claims. It argues that disabled radicals throughout history have forged social constructionist understandings aimed at improving employment prospects through access to education and training for disabled people.