Centre for Culture & Disability Studies

Avoidance in/and the Academy 2013

Keynote speakers:

Sharon Snyder (George Washington University)
Rosemarie Garland-Thomson (Emory University)

It has been nearly two decades since Lennard Davis, in Enforcing Normalcy (1995), remarked that when he talked about culturally engaged topics like the novel or the body he could count on a full house of spectators, but if he included the term disability in the title of his session the numbers would drop radically (xi). Things have certainly improved since then, as is demonstrable in Sharon Snyder, Brenda Brueggemann, and Rosemarie Garland-Thomson’s key work on how the humanities can be enabled by disability studies (2002). Progress, however, is frequently obstructed by bigoted and dated notions about disability. Accordingly, Stuart Murray’s “From Virginia’s Sister to Friday’s Silence” (2012) recognises the persistence of disability in contemporary writing, but David Bolt’s chapter in the Routledge Handbook of Disability Studies (2012) argues that the academy is still dragged down by critical avoidance.

Avoidance in/and the Academy 2013 is the focus of a JLCDS comment (8.1) by Hannah Thompson (Royal Holloway, University of London) and a selection of the papers forms the basis of an edited book, Disability, Avoidance, and the Academy (Bolt and Penketh, 2016), published in the Routledge Advances in Disability Studies series.