Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Disability Blog Carnival #76 is up NOW!

It's the September edition of the Carnival (which started in autumn 2006--so we're coming around to our fifth anniversary? wow), hosted at Never That Easy, with the theme "Being Seen." NTE has rounded up some fine links with the usual range of thoughtful, funny, raging, and wise, and it's worth a look. It's our first carnival edition since last spring, which is a long gap--so give the host and the linked writers some thanks and encouragement.

Next edition is set to be hosted by SpazGirl (Cara) at Butterfly Dreams, in October. Stay tuned for more information on that one.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

CFP: Society for Disability Studies (20-23 June 2012, Denver CO)

From H-Disability:

Call for Proposals
Society for Disability Studies
25th Annual Conference
Denver, Colorado
June 20-23, 2012

Collaborations, Cultures, and Communities

Submission system will open November 1, 2011
Deadline for submissions: December 1, 2011

The terms "collaborations," "cultures,"and "communities" express many meanings on many different levels, ranging from the most intimate personal and familial relations to the broadest global and virtual arrangements. With this year's theme, we seek to challenge potential
presenters to explore the rich and varied ways in which people with disabilities are shaped by and in turn form their own collaborations, communities, and cultures. At the same time, we must also be mindful of the ways in which the larger, nondisabled population has -- through
common, dominant cultures and collaborations of power -- worked both to exclude and to include disabled people in community and cultural formation and development. In addition, we hope presenters will explore the ways in which disabled people themselves have sometimes
restricted access to their own communities and cultures and worked to form limited collaborations with one another. We believe that this is a time for members of SDS to consider the many ways in which we might strengthen our communities and express our dynamic cultures by recognizing not only our many commonalities, but also our tremendous and incredibly valuable diversity. Our hope is that this year's theme will encourage members to foster spaces that value diverse expressions and analyses of class, race, gender, sexuality, sub-culture and national status within SDS and the broader communities of people with

We offer the following broad questions to foster interdisciplinary perspectives and encourage interdisciplinary collaboration:

* What are the many ways in which disabled people have conceptualized and enacted culture, community, and collaboration? What barriers have people with disabilities faced? How have these things changed over time?
* How have various technologies--and access to them--shaped the formation of collaborations, cultures, and communities?
* In what ways are community formation, cultural production, and collaboration bounded or shaped by geographic location, institutional formation, identity politics, and other factors?
* How have coalitional politics shaped momentum?or barriers? in disability activism?
* How does enduring poverty, racism, sexism, and the persistence of the medical model shape / limit access to opportunities for community formation, cultural production, and collaboration? How do these factors also open possibilities? How have these factors enhanced disability rights?
* How have the various disciplines within disability studies explored and analyzed community, culture, and collaboration? What are the strengths and weaknesses of these approaches?
* How have/might the various disciplines and fields within disability studies work across disciplinary boundaries to enhance the products we create?
* How have/might scholars, activists, artists, service providers, and others collaborate for the benefit of disability studies and the larger society? What factors inhibit such collaborations?
* How have/might disability studies reach out to local and national organizations and institutions to influence families, religious communities, service providers, political institutions, employers, etc.
* How does a focus on collaboration, community and culture influence research methods, theory, and the underpinnings of disability scholarship and practice?

We welcome proposals in all areas of disability studies, especially those submissions premised on this year's theme.

This year's program committee is introducing the idea of specific "strands" that relate to the larger more general theme of the SDS conference. Each strand may have 3 or 4 related events (e.g. panels, workshops), organized to occur throughout the conference and in a way that will eliminate any overlap of sessions in an effort to facilitate a more sustained discussion of specific issues that have arisen as areas of interest within the organization.

Our planned strands this year are as follows. Others may emerge from member proposals:

- Denver / local movement history: Denver has a rich history of disability activism that offers tremendous opportunity for exploration. Denver will be hosting a disability arts festival to
coincide with the Society for Disability Studies meetings.

- Religion / religious communities and disability studies: Members have identified these areas as fertile and provocative sites of challenges and possibilities that shape collaboration, culture, and community for people with disabilities.

- Power and privilege: Ongoing discussions among SDS board members, members of SDS caucuses, and others led to this strand, intended to look both at the workings of power and privilege broadly and in SDS itself.

- Professional development: This strand addresses a need identified by many of our members for professional development, including matters such as locating funding, pursuing academic and non-academic jobs, surviving the tenure track, etc?

If you would like your proposal to be considered as part of these thematic strands, mark this in your submission.


All submissions in formats A to F below are peer reviewed. All session formats are 90 minutes in length, including all introductions, presentations, discussion, and closure. Proposals may be submitted for presentations in any of the following formats:

A. Individual Presentation: Individual presentations will be placed alongside three other panelists with a similar topic and a moderator chosen by the Program Committee. In general, we assume 15-20-minute presentations (if you are requesting a longer time, please specify and
explain why). Presenters are required to submit 300-word abstracts for individual papers/presentations. List all co-authors, if any, and designate the presenting author(s).

B. Poster: Individuals or small teams will be provided a common space and time with an easel (and/or table if requested) to present a display of a research, training, service, or advocacy project, or other work. Presenters should be in attendance at the poster session. Submissions for the poster session requires a 300-word abstract, complete contact information for anyone involved in the project who will attend SDS, and a designated lead contact person. We encourage people to submit proposals specifically for the poster session. Each year, SDS proudly awards the Tanis Doe Award for the best poster. Additionally, this year, we will award "Honorable Mentions" for posters with student first-authors at each level of education: K-12, community college, four-year college/university, and graduate school as a way of encouraging student participation in the poster session.

C. Panels: Groups of 3-4 presenters (each with 15-20 minutes), a designated organizer / contact person and moderator (need not be the same person), plus an optional discussant, are encouraged to submit proposals around a central topic, theme, or approach. Panel proposals
require BOTH a 300-word proposal describing the panel AND a 300-word abstract for each paper/presentation. List all paper/presentation co-authors, identify the presenting author(s), and provide biographical information for the discussant, if one is planned.

D. Discussion: A topical discussion with a designated organizer / contact person and moderator (need not be the same person), but no formal presentations. Submit a 500-word proposal, including a description of how the time will be used, complete contact information
for the designated organizer and each participant in the discussion, and a description of their roles.

E. Workshop: Engaged application of a specific program or exercise involving a minimum of 4 planners / presenters. Proposals should include a 500-word proposal that addresses methodology and learning outcomes. Please describe the background and role of each workshop participant, designate a contact person/moderator, and provide complete contact information for each planner / presenter.

F. Performance, Film, or Art Event: We encourage submissions of an artistic performance by individuals and/or groups. Submissions must include a 500-word proposal, and sample of the proposed performance (up to 2,500 words of text, ten images of artistic work, demo CD,
YouTube or other Internet link, DVD, or other appropriate format). Send via email at or postal mail to the SDS Executive Office at 107 Commerce Centre Drive, Suite 204, Huntersville NC 28078 USA. Samples must reach the SDS Executive Office by the submission deadline. Please describe the background and role of each artist/participant and designate a contact person / moderator. Performers should be aware that SDS does not have the ability to provide theatrical and or stage settings in the 2012 venue. While every effort will be made to provide appropriate performance spaces, proposing performers are advised that special lighting, audiovisual equipment, and staging requests cannot be accommodated. All film
entries accepted for presentation at the 2012 Conference must be provided to the SDS Executive Office on DVD not less than 30 days prior to the start of the Conference in open-captioned format, and the presenter should be prepared to provide audio description as needed. As SDS cannot pay distribution rights for film screenings, the provider of the film is fully responsible for securing any necessary permissions from trade and copyright holders for public showing. Sponsors of accepted films must register for and attend the conference, host the screening, and bring documentation of rights clearance to the Conference and have it available during the time of film showing. SDS may request the right to schedule more than one screening at the conference. SDS program committee may request more samples and cannot return materials that are submitted for consideration.

G. Student interest group/Caucus/Other (non peer-reviewed): Various ad hoc and organized SDS or other non-profit groups may wish to have business, organizational, or informational meetings or some other kind of non-peer reviewed event or exhibit space at the meetings. Anyone hoping to host any such event should request space by December 1, 2011
by using the proposal submission form. After December 1st, space will be allocated on a first-come, first-serve basis. No meetings can be planned through SDS after the early-bird deadline of April 15, 2012. All presenters at such events must register for the conference.
Requests from groups not affiliated with SDS may be assessed a share of cost for space and access arrangements. Please provide the name of group, a description of the group and/or meeting purpose and format (in 300 words), and contact information for at least one organizer and a designated moderator.

* A Special Note on Films / Film Shorts: Films and film clips may be submitted as part of any of the format categories described above. Follow the appropriate instructions above. Participants proposing films within any of the proposal formats must be registered for and
attend the conference. Ideally, film length should not exceed 60 minutes under any category, to allow time for introduction and / or comments. All film entries must be captioned and the presenter should be prepared to provide audio description as needed. SDS cannot pay
distribution rights for film screenings.

* All participants must register for the conference by the early bird deadline: April 15, 2011, or they will be removed from the program. Please note: low income/student/international member presenters are eligible for modest financial aid for meeting costs. Applications for financial assistance will be available via the SDS listserv in the coming months.

* Participants MAY NOT appear in more than TWO peer-reviewed conference events (excluding evening performances, book reception, non-presenting organizer, non-presenting panel moderator, New Book Reception). Individuals with multiple submissions will be asked to rank order their preferences for participation. The program committee will prioritize spreading program slots across the membership before offering multiple slots to any one participant.

* Any participant with a book or other materials (e.g., DVD, CD) published within the last three years (2010, 2011, 2012) is welcome to participate in the New Book Reception. Authors will be provided a table for display and the opportunity to interact with conference participants. The fee for representation in the New Book Reception is $40.00. You may register and pay for your participation as a part of your overall Conference registration, not through this proposal portal.

* Any participant is welcome to request meeting space on behalf of a group. Requests for meeting space should be made by the December 1st submission date. Requests will be accommodated thereafter on a first-come, first-served basis and must be received by the SDS
Executive Office in writing to no later than May 1, 2012.

* Please indicate on the submission form whether you are willing to serve as moderator for a session.

* If you intend to participate in multiple events, please complete the submission process for each event.

* Participants will be notified of the status of their proposal by March 1, 2012.

* Any cancellations and requests for refunds after April 15, 2012 (the early bird deadline) may incur a cancellation fee. Any participant unable to attend must notify SDS in a timely fashion.

* Accessibility: In keeping with the philosophy of SDS we ask that presenters attend carefully to the accessibility of their presentations. As a prospective presenter, you agree to:
~~~Provide hard copy and large print hard copies (17 point font or larger) of all handouts used during the presentation.
~~~Provide an e-text version of papers and / or presentation materials such as PowerPoint slides and a summary of one's presentation with a list of proper names, terminology and jargon in advance of their delivery (for open captioning, distribution to attendees with print disabilities, and to assist ASL interpreters with preparation). SDS will also use this material to create an on-line forum of all work submitted by June 10th in the hopes of facilitating a more inclusive
and richer discussion on-site. After June 17, 2012 work cannot be added to the forum. Participation in this forum is optional, but strongly encouraged. This forum will be password-protected and available only to those participants who have registered for the
~~~Make allowances for a "Plan B": consider bringing your presentation on a jump drive and projecting the text of your paper to enhance captioning.
~~~ Provide audio-description of visual images, charts and video/DVDs, and/or open or closed captioning of films and video clips.
~~~ Contribute to improving intellectual access at the conference: consider your presentation as an opportunity to engage your audience.
~~~ Avoid reading your paper.
~~~ Plan your presentation to accommodate captioning and ASL interpretation. Avoid using jargon, and slow the pace of your presentation to allow time for eye contact and spelling proper names and terminology.

Presentation rooms* for the SDS 2012 Conference will be equipped with:
~~~ 2 (two) microphones for use by presenters;
~~~ 1 (one) LCD projector, screen, power source, and cables;
~~~ Head table suitable to comfortably accommodate 4 (four) people;
~~~ Both table top and podium presentation spaces; and
~~~ Non-dedicated, WIFI Internet access (i.e. not functional for audio/video download reliably)
~~~ SDS does not provide computers, overhead projectors, or other audio/visual equipment as a matter of course. Presenters are responsible for ensuring that presentation structure and planning works well within these audio/visual parameters.
*This information is not applicable to film showings.

The Tanis Doe Award for best poster will be judged and awarded at the poster session of the SDS conference. The Tanis Doe Award includes a cash award, a certificate of recognition, and the posting of authors names on the SDS website. The Tanis Doe Award is open to everyone at all levels of education and experience. Additionally, this year, we will award "Honorable Mentions" for posters with student first-authors at each level of education: K-12, community college, four-year college/university, and graduate school as a way of encouraging student participation in the poster session. SDS also honors the recipients of the Senior Scholar Award and the
Irving K. Zola Award for emerging scholars at the annual conference. Please see the Call for Nominations via the SDS listserv and website. Decisions regarding these awards are made prior to the conference. Award winners will be invited to present during the program and receive recognition at the SDS business meeting. The Zola Award also includes publication in a future issue of Disability Studies Quarterly. Other awards may also be presented at the SDS business

By submitting to SDS 2012 in Denver, you give SDS full permission to publish your abstracts, photograph you, publish such photographs on the SDS web site or other publications, audio or video record your presentation, transcribe the presentation for access needs, and transmit or post and archive such recordings and transcriptions via live-streaming, podcast form, or any other electronic means. If submitting on behalf of multiple presenters and authors, you certify
that each presenter and author has granted his/her permission to Society for Disability Studies for purposes described in this paragraph. By giving this permission, you understand that you retain full rights to your work but give SDS the right to use your presentation in the context of the 2012 conference, including (but not limited to) charging attendees and others for access to derivative audio or video products, recordings or podcasts.

For further information contact Michael Rembis and/or Allison Carey, co-chairs of the SDS 2012 program committee at and

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

James Pendleton Vandiver (1869-1932)

Today's the centennial of the birth of bluegrass legend Bill Monroe. One of Monroe's best-known songs, "Uncle Pen," was about the disabled uncle who looked after him and taught him to play all the old tunes.

Pendleton Vandiver (1869- 1932) was born in rural Kentucky, the second-youngest of ten children. Somewhere along the way, he married and had two children, but the marriage broke up and he moved into a small cabin near his younger sister Malissa Monroe. There he got to know his nephew, Bill Monroe, and taught him early how to play mandolin accompaniment to Uncle Pen's fiddling. They'd play at square dances, or just for at-home entertainment.

Bill's parents had both died by the time Bill was 16, and he found himself living with Uncle Pen. By then, Vandiver was in his late fifties and using crutches, after a bad fall from a mule. Said Monroe years later:
He done the cooking for the two of us. We had fat back, sorghum molasses, and hot cakes for breakfast followed by blackeyed peas with fat back and corn bread and sorghum for dinner and supper....A man that old, and crippled, that would cook for you and see that you had a bed and a place to stay and something for breakfast and dinner and supper, and you know it come hard for him to get ...
Here's Bill Monroe performing "Uncle Pen" in 1956:

Video description: Grainy black-and-white television footage of a bluegrass band performing live.


Oh, the people would come from faraway
They'd dance all night till the break of day
When the caller hollered, "Do-se-do"
He knew uncle Pen was ready to go

Late in the evenin' about sundown
High on the hill and above the town
Uncle Pen played the fiddle, oh, how it would ring
You can hear it talk, you can hear it sing

He played an old tune he called, "Soldier's joy"
And the one he wrote called, "The Boston boy"
But the greatest of all was, "Jenny Lynn"
To me that's where the fiddle begins

Late in the evenin' about sundown
High on the hill and above the town
Uncle Pen played the fiddle, oh, how it would ring
You can hear it talk, you can hear it sing

But I'll never forget that mournful day
When uncle Pen was called away
They hung up his fiddle and they hung up his bow
I knew it was time for him to go

Late in the evenin' about sundown
High on the hill and above the town
Uncle Pen played the fiddle, oh, how it would ring
You can hear it talk, you can hear it sing

Late in the evenin' about sundown
High on the hill and above the town
Uncle Pen played the fiddle, oh, how it would ring
You can hear it talk, you can hear it sing

Thursday, September 08, 2011

CFP: Intellectual Disability in the Medieval/Early Modern Europe

From H-Disability:

Call for papers: Intellectual Disability in Medieval and Early Modern Europe

This special session will take place at the 47th International Congress on Medieval Studies at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan (May 10-13, 2012).

In Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, the steward Malvolio clearly connects fooling to intellectual disability when he says to the fool Feste, “Infirmity, that decays the wise, doth ever make the better fool”—to which Feste replies, “God send you, sir, a speedy infirmity for the better increasing your folly” (1.5.66-68). Yet, despite the clear connection these characters draw between the vocational fool and (intellectual) “infirmity,” few scholars have commented on the play’s repeated allusions to premodern beliefs in fools’ intellectual deficiencies. Disability studies have done much to examine and interrogate representations of extrinsic, physically visible disability. However, only a few scholars—such as C. F. Goodey—have begun to discuss and question historical notions of intellectual disability.

This panel seeks to further discussions of intellectual disability, asking: How are notions of intelligence and intellectual disability constructed and, perhaps, deconstructed in medieval and early modern Europe? How are these twin concepts portrayed in, for example, drama, poetry, narrative prose, visual art, music, dance, medical treatises, conduct manuals, and religious writings of the period? How is the historical contingency of ideas involving intelligence and disability evinced and critiqued in such works? How do fools in drama, religious writings, manuscript illuminations, and other artistic representations tangle with notions of intelligence and disability? What distinctions need to be drawn, and what connections made, between intellectual disability and premodern discussions of “madness”? How do premodern artists and writers portray the brain’s inadequacies, as well as its perceived failures to work?

This panel endeavors to enhance scholarly understanding of how premodern depictions of the intellect, its capabilities, and its deficiencies inform later discourses concerning the brain and mind—and, indeed, influence our own (dis)abilities to recognize such problems when they appear in the art and writing of medieval and early modern Europe.

Please send proposals of 250-300 words to Angela Heetderks ( by September 25, 2011. Early submissions are appreciated.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

J. A. Charlton Deas: Making Museums Accessible--A Century Ago

There have been several recent conferences on making museums accessible to blind patrons--and next month (October) is Art Beyond Sight Awareness Month--but the project of opening museum collections and art education to blind visitors, students, and scholars is much older than some might assume.

John Alfred Charlton Deas was curator at the Sunderland Museum in the 1910s. When he retired from that position, he looked into opening the museum's eclectic holdings to the students at the nearby blind school--and his efforts were met with enthusiastic encouragement. Soon, the museum was holding events that allowed the students to handle armor, zoological specimens, skeletons, paintings, sculptures, antique weapons, and vases, among other items. These sessions happened during times when the museum was otherwise closed to the public, like Sunday afternoons. Beyond the tactile experience, docents were present to give verbal information aloud, where the written labels were of little use. Lectures by local experts were arranged, for further information. Back at school, the students made clay figures based on what they touched and learned at the museum. The children's teacher wrote, "With minds better stored than their predecessors, they ought to be keener observers, better workers and more intelligent citizens." For some sessions, blind adults were also invited to participate. Deas published a paper on his efforts in 1913, but the idea didn't find many imitators at the time.

Natural History magazine ran an article on an American version of the concept in 1914. They reported that the American Museum of Natural History (in New York) started working with blind schools in 1909, by lending them models and giving guest lectures. In 1910 a fund was established to support field trips from blind schools and institutions to the museum, and to sponsor visiting exhibits from the museum to the schools.

A photographer recorded the 1913 tactile museum experiences run by Deas, and the Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums has made a set of 38 images available (with no-known-copyright status) on Flickr Commons.

Friday, September 02, 2011

CFP: Cripples, Idiots, Lepers, and Freaks: Extraordinary Bodies/Extraordinary Minds

Call for Papers

Cripples, Idiots, Lepers, and Freaks:

Extraordinary Bodies / Extraordinary Minds

Thursday, March 22 – Friday, March 23, 2012

The Graduate Center of the City University of New York

Could disability be, as Susan Wendell writes, “valued for itself, or for the different knowledge, perspective, and experience of life” it gives rise to? This conference seeks to continue—and to expand—conversations about the cultural meanings and possibilities of impairment, as well as the ways that the disabled body becomes a locus for uneasy collaborations and tensions between the social and the scientific. What critical and theoretical perspectives can be brought to bear on human variations that are, or have been, subject to medical authority or understood as requiring

Emphasizing an interdisciplinary approach to “disability,” we seek papers from across the humanities (English, art history, music, etc.), social sciences (history, sociology, political science, etc.), and applied fields (law, education, medicine, etc.). We welcome papers on topics ranging
from the aesthetics of illness in medieval literature to the politics of disability in South Park, from the cultural fascination with autistic savants to race, impairment, and spectatorship in freak shows.

Possible paper topics include:

Genre, Aesthetics, and Disability: poetics; visual art, photography, and spectatorship; life writing and illness narratives; metaphors and representations of disability; disability and performance; “outsider art”; impairment and artistic production; comedy and disability

Pedagogy and Disability: teaching disabled authors; writing the body; student embodiments, teacher embodiments; “coming out” and “passing”; disability and composition studies; “special” education

Sexuality, Desire, and Disability: pleasure and the extraordinary body; voyeurism; fetishism; freak shows; sexual practices; queering disability

Epistemology, Subjectivity, and Disability: genius and savantism; the body in pain; affect; “terminal” illnesses; acquired impairments, congenital impairments; stigma and otherness; autistic minds; mental “illness” / mental “health”; trauma, violence, and disability

Intersections of Identity: masculinity and disability; femininity and disability; pregnancy, motherhood, and impairment; race and disability; class and disability; queer identities and disability

History of/and Disability: historicizing disability; historically specific impairments (e.g. hysteria); period-specific studies of disability (e.g. early modern); eugenics; race and/as impairment; evolution and “degeneration”; taxonomy and natural history

Medicine, Science, and Impairment: medicalizations of race, class, sex, body size; addiction and disability; medical and scientific discourse; doctor / patient interactions; concepts and problems of the “cure”; diagnostic manuals and other taxonomies; the human / animal divide

Disability Activism / (Bio)politics: rhetorics of “disability”; activist art; reproductive rights; genetics and eugenics; euthanasia; healthcare; war, disability, and the making of populations; impairment-specific campaigns and organizations

Technology and the Impaired Body: technologies of reproduction; cyborgs; prosthesis; body augmentation / body modification

Please submit 250- to 500-word abstracts to by December 5, 2011.

* * *

The conference, sponsored by the English Student Association of the CUNY Graduate Center, will feature concurrent graduate panels on the afternoon of Thursday, March 22, and all day on Friday, March 23. It will also include a Thursday evening plenary panel on the present and future of Disability Studies; panel members include CUNY scholars Sarah Chinn (English,
Hunter College), Victoria Pitts-Taylor (sociology, Queens College), Talia Schaffer (English, Queens College and the Graduate Center), and Joseph Straus (music, CUNY Graduate Center). Keynote address on Friday evening TBD. All conference events will take place at the CUNY Graduate Center in midtown Manhattan.

If you have any questions, please email the conference co-chairs, Marissa Brostoff, Andrew Lucchesi, and Emily B. Stanback at

Thursday, September 01, 2011

September 1: Phyllis Wallbank (b. 1918)

Born on this date in 1918, English educator Phyllis Wallbank. She worked with displaced children as a young woman in wartime London, and knew she wanted to find a way to make that her profession; a chance to hear Maria Montessori speak became the means to that end. Wallbank is one of the UK's best-known proponents of the Montessori method. In 1948 she opened Gatehouse School on the grounds of a church, and a major feature of the program was the inclusion of disabled children, at a time when few educational opportunities were available. Said Phyllis Wallbank (source):
"We incorporated mentally and physically challenged children at a time when they were normally segregated. We had groups of eight called 'families', each incorporating one disabled child. The child adapted to normality instead of to an institution. We eventually had all kinds of challenged children: children suffering from blindness, autism, maladjustment, thalidomide, Downs syndrome, cerebral palsy, brain damage and epilepsy. We had a social mix too: many children from professional families, some taking Common Entrance and public school scholarships and some local East Enders with parents known to have serious criminal backgrounds. And yet it all worked! Children were assisted and looked after by their friends and became an integral part of their "family". Often parents had no idea that a fellow student who came up in conversation at home was a disabled child."
Wallbank turns 93 today. Just a few years ago she went on an international lecture tour; one of her lectures in the US is on YouTube, in ten parts, here (there's no transcript, however).