Friday, December 24, 2010

Disability Blog Carnival #72 is up now!

Dave Hingsburger has the December edition of the Disability Blog Carnival up this week at his blog, Rolling Around in my Head--he invited links about darkness and long nights and ways through them, marking the winter solstice, and he says "I applaud all who submitted and thank them for the many times I was moved, to tears, to thought and, perhaps even, to action."

The January edition will be hosted by Spaz Girl at Butterfly Dreams, and she's decided on "Let Your Freak Flag Fly" as the theme--here is her explanation/invitation/announcement. And I have Lil Watcher Girl of Through Myself and Back Again down for the February edition-- more to come on that soon I hope.

In January, I'll make a call for hosts for the rest of 2011--think about it and watch for the call in a few weeks. It's a commitment of time and organizational skills, but it can be fun and rewarding, and everyone who participates in any way--hosting, writing, submitting, commenting, linking, or reading--each of you is part of why this feature has continued for five years now. Thank you.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

December 18: Edward MacDowell (1860-1908)

[Visual description: 1940 US Postage stamp honoring Edward MacDowell, depicted as a mustachioed white man with a sweep of thick hair, wearing a stiff collar and tie.]

Today is the 150th anniversary of American composer Edward MacDowell, born on this date in 1860 in New York City (though some sources give 1861). He showed promise as a pianist from a young age; when he was 17, his family moved to Paris so he could study at the Paris Conservatoire. He also studied in Frankfurt, and played for Liszt, and taught in Darmstadt. He became a music professor at Columbia University first chairman of the Music Department there, and was a prolific composer. In 1904, he was part of the first group of honorees named to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

But also in 1904, at age 44, he was run over in a streetcar accident, and his injuries apparently accelerated a progressive neurological condition. He was unable to continue composing or teaching. "His mind became as that of a little child," said Lawrence Gilman, a friend. "He sat quietly, day after day, in a chair by a window, smiling patiently from time to time at those about him, turning the pages of a book of fairy tales that seemed to give him a definite pleasure, and greeting with a fugitive gleam of recognition certain of his more intimate friends." Composer Edvard Grieg ascribed the trouble to MacDowell's remarkable artistic temperament and an "unusually sympathetic and sensitive nervous system": "An artist so ideally endowed as MacDowell must ask himself: Why have I received from nature this delicately strung lyre, if I were better off without it?" (letter quoted in Gilman's biography, p. 35)

There was certainly an awareness of brain injuries at the time, and of dementia, but little was available in the way of medical intervention or rehabilitation, and there was no economic safety net for him or his wife, either. Friends held fundraisers and prominent authors and musicians signed calls for support. MacDowell's wife Marian, herself a musician, refused to consider an institution, and cared for him at home (assisted by a nurse, Anna Baetz) for the three years until he died.

In fulfillment of their shared vision, Marian founded an artists' retreat, the MacDowell Colony at her farm in New Hampshire in 1907. Marian MacDowell (d. 1956) led the Colony for twenty-five years, funding it with her lectures and performances, mainly for women's organizations. Nurse Anna Baetz (d. 1923) stayed on, long past Edward's passing, to help with the colony's day-to-day running. Today, the MacDowell Colony can claim dozens of award-winning works of art that were written or begun at the Edward and Marian's farm.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

CFP: Disability and Native American/Indigenous Studies

Call for Papers: Disability and Native American/Indigenous Studies
Special Issue of Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability (JLCDS)

Guest Editors, Siobhan Senier and Penelope Kelsey

In Colonizing Bodies: Aboriginal Health and Healing in British Columbia 1900-1950, a Nisga’a elder implores the historian Mary Ellen Kelm: “When we talk about the poor health of our people, remember it all began with the white man” (xv). This special issue of JLCDS invites scholars to consider two interrelated phenomena: on the one hand, colonialism has produced indigenous disability and illness—through the depletion of traditional sources of food and medicine, enforced containment in boarding schools and substandard reservation housing, trauma, poverty and so on.
On the other hand, colonial discourse also pathologizes Native people—construing them as genetically prone to certain illnesses, for instance. Given these colonial phenomena, scholarship is particularly welcome that considers how Native people indigenize the famous disability-rights call, “nothing about us without us”—bringing tribally situated responses, adaptations, and resistance to disability and illness.

JLCDS seeks essays that conjoin the methodologies and content of Disability Studies with Native American/Indigenous Studies. The texts under consideration can range from literature and film, in any genre, to non-print and non-alphabetic media. Topics might include, but are by no means limited to:

Tribally specific understandings/representations of illness and disability;
Applications of Disability Studies to indigenous texts;
Applications of indigenous methodologies to disability literature;
Colonization, medicalization, and the construction of disability;
Indigenous nationalisms, feminisms, and Two-Spirited resistance to the non-Native construction of disability;
Illnesses/disabilities more emic to the American Indian experience (i.e., tuberculosis, diabetes, PTSD, Split Feather syndrome);
Environmental degradation and racism and community health;
Representations of substance abuse and other community health concerns in colonial contexts;
Representations of indigenous disability vis-à-vis nation or community.
Proposals and queries should be sent to and Proposals are due by March 15, 2011, and proposal selections will be made by May 30, 2011. Completed essays for those selected are due October 1, 2011, and articles will be selected in December of 2011.

Dr. David Bolt
Lecturer, Disability Studies
Director, Centre for Culture & Disability Studies
Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies
Telephone 0151 291 3346
Postal address@ Faculty of Education, Liverpool Hope University, Liverpool,
L16 9JD