Wellcome Trust Workshop: ‘Reading and Replicating Bodies: Mimicry in Medicine and Culture, 1790-1914’, Oxford, 26th March

Reading and Replicating Bodies: Mimicry in Medicine and Culture, 1790-1914

26th March 2015. 10.45-18.00 (registration from 9.45)

One-day Interdisciplinary workshop, funded by the Wellcome Trust

The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH), University of Oxford


In the nineteenth century, to read a body was to replicate it. From making anatomical drawings to designing prosthetics, medical practices duplicated human tissue on an unprecedented scale. Yet this urge to copy was also tainted, and literary depictions of scientists – from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to H. G. Wells’ The Island of Dr Moreau – cast the desire to replicate a living body as absorbing and abhorrent in turn. Replication was also an important topic in the era’s sciences of mind. Writers such as Charles Bell, Charles Darwin and James Mark Baldwin, depictedhumans as mirrors, believing an innate compulsion to imitate could explain the development of sympathy (later empathy) language and laws. Yet, here imitation was also problematic, framed as a primitive impulse, most violently displayed by the period’s ‘othered’ bodies: hysterics, non-Europeans, women, the deaf and the degenerate. This workshop will explore how Victorian science, medicine and the arts interacted to construct the body as an object and subject of imitation. It will consider how much of today’s ambivalence about replicating bodies – from ethical questions about cloning to the much-hyped concept of ‘mirror neurons’ – do we owe to practices and concepts from the nineteenth century.

Speakers include

  • Christopher Pittard (University of Portsmouth): ‘V for Ventriloquism: Powers of Vocal Mimicry in Henry Cockton’s Valentine Vox’.

Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies CFP: Special Issue, ‘Disability and Human Rights’

Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies 

Call for Papers: Disability and Human Rights

Guest editors: Gian Maria Greco and Elena Di Giovanni

This special issue of JLCDS will investigate issues of disability rights within the human rights agenda from the points of view and methodologies of cultural studies.

“Human Rights” has been one of the most influential concepts of the past three centuries and it is still an essential constituent of modern conceptions of State and society. With the 1948 UN Declaration, human rights has become an even more pervasive concept, shaping everyday interactions at all levels, changing the language and rhetoric of politics, permeating literary works, movies, arts and media.

Over the past decades, research in human rights has been through two major changes. On the one hand, disability rights have come to gain a central position within the human rights research agenda, after many years of scanty attention, particularly if compared to issues of gender and ethnicity. Disability itself, and the rights of persons with disabilities, have thus become major issues within the human rights debate and research. On the other hand, the dominance of the legalistic approach has been challenged. Scholars have come to realize the need for a more complex approach, taking into account the social, anthropological, and cultural aspects involved in the human rights discourse.  Indeed, both human rights and disability are multidimensional and multi-layered concepts, whose richness and complexity cannot be catered for solely through a legalistic approach. Over the last few years, many scholars have argued that the interdisciplinary methodology of cultural studies is a fruitful approach to best face the challenges posed by the complexity of human rights discourse.

Within the emerging domain of cultural studies, analyses of human rights and disability rights are still virtually non-existent. This special issue of JLCDS aims to fill this gap by gathering contributions focusing on disability and human rights from a cultural studies perspective. To this purpose, we invite scholars to submit proposals within the framework set out here.

Contributions might focus on, but should not be limited to:

  • foundational questions concerning the cultural studies analysis of disability rights;
  • methodological issues in the cultural studies analysis of disability rights;
  • the rhetoric of human rights and disability rights;
  • defining and discussing disability rights;
  • the meaning of “human” in the advocacy for rights, especially disability rights;
  • portraying disability rights from a cultural point of view;
  • disability, cultural specificity and human rights;
  • the representation of disability and human rights in literature;
  • cultural inclusion and the rights of people with disabilities.

Submission Information:

Prospective authors are asked to send a 500 words proposal and a 300 words curriculum vitae to the guest editors. Authors of accepted proposals will be asked to submit a full paper. Papers submitted should not exceed 7,000 words, including an abstract of no more than 200 words, footnotes, and a list of works cited. The author’s name should not appear anywhere on the manuscript, nor in the file name. If the content refers to the author, it should do so covertly. The journal uses the MLA style for referencing.

Further information concerning style guidelines at http://www.liverpooluniversitypress.co.uk/images/stories/documents/JLCDS%20Guidelines.pdf

Proposal submissions should be sent by email to both guest editors. Emails should use the subject “Proposal special issue Disability and Human Rights – JLCDS”.

Important Dates:

1st August 2015: submission of a 500 words proposal and a one-page curriculum vitae to guest editors.
1st September 2015: prospective authors notified of proposal status.
1st March 2016: final versions of selected papers due to editors.
1st July 2016: decisions and revisions on submissions sent to authors.
15th September 2016: final, revised papers due.

Questions may be directed to guest editors: gianmaria.greco@poiesis and elena.digiovanni@unimc.it.

For general information please contact:

Dr. David Bolt

Email: boltd@hope.ac.uk

Telephone: 0151 291 3346

CFP: Panel on “Representing Early Modern Disability” (Reading, 6th-8th July 2015)

As part of the Reading Early Modern Studies Conference, this panel is intended to offer ways in which recent developments in disability theory and disability studies might yield new ways of understanding early modern literature, culture, and history, and to establish the relevance of disability as a topic of concern for early modern scholars. Particularly welcome are papers which take an interdisciplinary approach. Below is a list of suggested topics, though these are intentionally kept as open as possible:

  • Representations of specific bodily and mental impairments in early modern sources, including, for example, visual art, literature, sermons, public memorial, song, pageantry, devotional practice etc.
  • Models of understanding disability (social, medical, social relational, theological, etc.) and their application to early modern contexts
  • Early modern ways of understanding ‘disability’ as an identity
  • Linking early modern conceptualisations of disability with the roots of current attitudes and/or seeing early modern representations as potential sources for alternative modes of understanding difference
  • Intersectional readings of disability with other categories such as race, gender, sexuality, etc. in early modern sources
  • Disabled scholars’ experiences of early modern studies today and in the past
  • The absence of disability from critical discourse on early modern topics
  • Technologies of early modern disability, e.g. prostheses
  • Taxonomic practices both now and in the early modern period
  • Moral, spiritual, and theological responses to disability and impairment in early modern contexts
  • Disability studies and presentism in early modern disciplines

Please send a title and 200-word abstract of a 20-minute paper to Susan Anderson (s.anderson@leedstrinity.ac.uk) by 30th January 2015. Please do feel free to email with any initial queries or ideas in advance. Apologies for the shortness of the deadline.

Information on the Reading Early Modern Studies Conference, including the general call for papers, can be found here:

Postdoctoral Research Assistant, History of Medicine, Department of Philosophy

The Life of Breath project is a 5-year Wellcome Trust funded project, headed by Prof Jane Macnaughton (Durham) and Prof Havi Carel (Bristol). Life of Breath examines breathing and breathlessness, suggesting that these can only be understood fully by drawing not only on physiological and pathological information, but also on cultural, historical and phenomenological sources. The key goal of the project is to use medical humanities to inform interventions in diseases in which breathlessness is a symptom. For more information on the project see: www.lifeofbreath.org (see also the appendix of the job description, via this link).

The successful applicant for this postdoctoral position will pursue a three-year project of research within the medical history research strand of the project. This strand will examine the recent history of COPD. Because COPD’s defining symptom is breathlessness, it provides an important and prevalent standard to focus clinical attention. Historical texts pertaining to breathing problems, including bronchitis and emphysema, texts documenting advances in pathology and medical diagnostic tools, and more recent clinical guidelines for COPD, will be analysed in this postdoctoral research project. Mapping the historical trajectory of the medical understanding of COPD and breathlessness will illuminate, and be illuminated by, literary and cultural history, philosophy, medical anthropology, and medical humanities, which form the other strands of the project (for further information see the appendix of the job description, via the link below, as well as the project website).

The successful applicant will be expected to work independently at a postdoctoral level, and to publish and present work in academic and non-academic contexts. They will be mentored by a multidisciplinary team, consisting of Prof Tim Cole (Bristol, history), Prof Gareth Williams (Bristol, medicine and medical history), and Prof Havi Carel (Bristol, phenomenology of breathlessness and project PI).

Applicants should have, or be very near completion of, a PhD in medical history, and should have research experience in the field. For person specification and further details about the post please access the job description via the link below. Please read the job description carefully before submitting your application.

The start date for this post is 1st March 2015 (or as soon as possible thereafter).

Please supply: 1. An academic CV (including a publication list), 2. A writing sample of up to 8,000 words, 3. The names and contact details of two academic referees, 4. A 2,000-3,000 personal statement

In your personal statement explain how you would approach the research project described above (for further details on the project see the appendix to the job description) and how you would make a valuable contribution to the Life of Breath project more broadly.

Informal enquiries may be addressed to Prof Havi Carel in the Department of Philosophy by telephone at +44 (0)117 954 6690 or by email at havi.carel@bris.ac.uk.

Please note that the University will be closed for Christmas from 24th December to 4th January so you may not get a response to your email until 5th January. It is anticipated that interviews will be held on 20th February 2015.


Job Number: ACAD101191

Division/School: School of Arts

Working pattern: Full time, fixed term contract

Salary: £31,342 – 35,256


Third Hektoen Grand Prix Essay Competition

The Hektoen Essay Competition invites final contributions. Participants should submit essays of no more than 1,600 words in length by 31st January 2015 for the following contests:

The Hektoen Grand Prix – $1,200

Participants should write a Famous Hospitals essay about a historical or current hospital for the Hektoen Briefs section. One prize will be awarded. Please see the Famous Hospitals section of the Hektoen Briefs for examples.

The Hektoen Silver Prize – $1,000

Participants may write an essay for any of the Hektoen Briefs sections other than Famous Hospitals, namely:

·         Art Flashes: art and disease, and medical themes in the visual arts.
·         Literary Vignettes: essays about medicine and literature.
·         Moments in History: notable events relating to medicine.
·         Physicians of Note: portraits of famous or notable physicians.

One prize will be awarded. For examples please see the Art FlashesLiterary VignettesMoments in History, and Physicians of Note sections of the Hektoen Briefs.

*Note: Our contest rules have changed. You can view our updated guidelines on the Third Hektoen Grand Prix Essay Competition page. Please send articles or inquiries tocontest@hektoeninternational.org

CFP: Blackness & Disability (special issue, African American Review)

In 2006, the late Christopher M. Bell lamented “the failure of Disability Studies to engage issues of race and ethnicity in a substantive capacity.” In recent years, scholars like Michelle Jarman, Jennifer James, Cynthia Wu, Nirmalla Ervelles, and Terry Rowden have filled this lacuna with essays and books of their own. Though it may no longer be necessary to think in terms of failure, we still have a significant amount of work to do in exploring the scholarly terrain where disability and race intersect. In an effort to continue this conversation, this special issue of African American Review seeks essays that probe the connections between blackness and disability and think beyond the idea that one is simply like the other.

We define disability as the existing social, legal, and cultural conditions that make the world un-navegable for people with impairments, drawing a distinction between material realities and the consequences of social (in)action. We recognize the historical relationship between racializing and disabling discourses as complex and dynamic. In this issue, we aim to challenge, expose, and analyze the way these discourses shape literary and cultural production.

Centralizing disability in discussions of blackness revamps our understanding of what blackness was, is, and could be. In terms of history, it asks us to recast Harriet Tubman as mentally disabled (based on her head injury), and by extension the conception of slaves as extremely abled. The use of amputation as a punishment for seeking freedom challenges us to consider that blackness and disability are simultaneously constructed as anti-thetical to freedom itself and dangerous to the nation-state. If we are to think about how black citizens must traverse structural inequality regularly, how might that be complicated by an inability to get inside the actual structures one needs to enter? How might the back and side ramp entrances to government buildings create a permanent but vexed easement into institutions for black disabled folk? In terms of scholarly work, performance studies and cultural studies seek to reimagine the black body as outside the strictures placed upon it, but generally do so in abled terms. In short, I ask a question similar to Gloria Hull, Patricia Bell Scott and Barbara Smith’s inquiry for their collection on black feminism: if all the disabled are white, and all the blacks are abled, what are those of us in the middle? This special issue would be groundbreaking because it asks for nothing less than a retooling of the very terms of blackness and disability. To view the two together is to disrupt and change both.

We welcome essays that examine the wide range of possible literary and cultural texts available though we are most interested in work that explains how discourses of disability and blackness transform each other. Our primary goal is to expand the repertoire of critical approaches to texts (broadly defined) that deal with blackness and disability.

Potential Topics:

  • Slavery and the Politics of Disability
  • Memoir/Autobiography
  • Afrofuturism/Black Speculative Fiction
  • The Graphic Novel
  • Disability and Black Queer Culture
  • Black Disabled Characters in Film & Visual Culture
  • Differential Politics of Disability (how disability impacts the lives of people of different ethnicities and classes differently)
  • Disability and the Black Arts

Abstracts of no more than 500 words and a brief CV should be sent to Theri Pickens c/o Intellectual.Insurrection@gmail.com by 30th June 2015. The invitation for full papers will be sent out on 1st September 2015 and completed essays will be expected by February 1, 2016.

For more information see http://www.tpickens.org/cfp-special-issue-of-african-american-review-blackness-and-disabil….