CFP extended: ‘Disability and Shame’, Review of Disability Studies

Deadline extended!
Call for Papers: Disability and Shame

Deadline: 1st June 2018
Anticipated publication date: 1st June 2019 (Volume 15, issue 2)

The Review of Disability Studies: An International Journal is issuing a Call for Papers for a special forum on the subject of shame and disability, broadly conceived. It is hoped that through critical discourse addressing the historical and current contexts, contributing factors, effects, and responses to shame, greater understanding of this phenomena will diminish discrimination and violence.

Full papers should be submitted directly to RDS online at no later than June 1, 2018. Please submit to the category “Forum – Disability and Shame”.

For questions about the content of the Forum, please contact the guest editors John Jones,, Dana Lee Baker,, or Stephanie Patterson,

For questions about the submissions process, please contact

Submissions to this special issue will undergo a process of peer-review. Authors will be notified of whether their papers will be invited for consideration in the forum by August 1, 2018. Prospective authors are encouraged to consult the RDS website at for more information about the journal and its formatting guidelines. Authors are encouraged to review previous issues of RDS in preparing their paper. Please note that initial acceptance of an article does not guarantee publication in RDS. RDS is a peer-reviewed, multidisciplinary, international journal published by the Center on Disability Studies at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa. The journal contains research articles, essays, creative works and multimedia relating to the culture of disability and people with disabilities.

Disability and Shame Forum Overview

Shame plays a powerful role in social interactions, beliefs, and institutions. Shame and shaming take varied and quite diversely motivated forms. Shame exists as both a cultural and psychological construct, stimuli for and reactions to which are heavily context-dependent. For much of history and across varied cultural contexts, disability provoked shame. Whether understood as the result of personal failings, sins of a family, misapplication of scientific findings, or empirical evidence of an unhappy deity, experiencing disability involved largely unquestioned shaming. During the last decades of the twentieth century, progress much attributed to disability rights movements finally created expanding space between disability and shame.

Yet, shame remains a powerful and often-accepted tool of social control, an incorporated pillar of our social infrastructures along with cultural norms, popular culture, and public policy. For example, in September 2016, Satoshi Uematsu killed 19 patients at a center for disabled people outside Tokyo. In the aftermath, many family members of the deceased declined to speak to the media and asked not to be identified out of shame that others would know that their family members had a disability (Ha & Sieg, 2016). Such a tragic outcome in Japan in response to fear of disgrace signifies a decided need to examine the role of personal and societal shame and how it affects the lives of people with disabilities.

Topics to be explored (suggested, but not limited to):

  • Shame, disability, identity
  • Labelling and shame
  • Shame and relationships
  • Shame and dependency/interdependency
  • Shame and culture
  • Shame and access to public programs
  • Historical connection between disability and poverty
  • Historical shame
  • Diversity and shame
  • Intersectional approaches to understanding shame
  • Reclaiming shame
  • Shame and employment
  • Societal and family shame resulting in violence against disabled people

CFP: Disability Studies Conference, Lancaster (incl. ‘Critical Dialogues in Neurodiversity’ conference stream, PARC)

Location: Lancaster University

Date: 11th – 13th September 2018

Deadline: 31st March 2018

The Lancaster Disability Studies conference brings together researchers, practitioners, policy makers and activists from around the world, to share and debate research, ideas and developments in disability studies. In the 21st Century disability activism plays a vital role in identifying and challenging disablist policy and practices which limit and deny the rights of disabled people across the globe. Disability activism has provided a road map of good practice, offering ways to consider the means by which disabled people can live independent lives. Key questions for Disability Studies in this context are

  • what role does/can/should the academy play in supporting disability activism
  • In what ways can the relationship between the academy and activism develop praxis?

We invite submissions of abstracts for either symposia, paper or poster presentations on current research, ideas, issues and new developments in disability studies. In particular we welcome submissions in (but not limited to) the following areas

  • Disability activism
  • Participatory research approaches and practices
  • Impact of global economic changes
  • Welfare reform
  • War, conflict and political change
  • Institutions, independent living and citizenship
  • Normalcy and Diversity
  • Mad studies
  • Media Cultures
  • History, Literature and Arts
  • Transnational perspectives and the ‘Global South’
  • Borders, boundaries, migration and citizenship
  • Theoretical and methodological ideas and debates
  • Assistive technologies
  • Death, dying and end of life
  • Hate crime, violence and abuse
  • Social policy and legislation
  • Human rights and social justice

Abstracts of up to 300 words should be submitted by 31st March 2018. Abstracts should be submitted via the Conference’s Easy Chair webpage [nb, you have to create an easychair account to make a submission.].

Please contact Hannah Morgan with queries about the call for paper or abstract submission.

This is the call for papers for the special Critical Dialogues in Neurodiversity conference stream by the Participatory Autism Research Collective (PARC):

Whilst there have been a growth in publications and events on this topic, there are also tensions and divides within this area of scholarship (Milton, 2016). In addition, critical research on neurodivergent ways of being other than autism, such as ADHD, is often situated outside of Disability Studies, primarily within the fields of medical sociology or critical mental health.

The vast majority of research published regarding neurodivergent ways of being is closely aligned with clinical practice, resulting in a focus on establishing ways to ‘remediate disorder.’ Whilst there may be indications that this is changing in some quarters, and the view that a neurodivergent way of being can involve potential cognitive strengths as well as limitations is emerging, such views have traditionally been held on the margins. One implication of this has been the exclusion of neurodivergent voices in the processes of knowledge production, leading to research in the field being epistemologically and ethically suspect (Milton and Bracher, 2013).

Whilst seeking and obtaining the views of disabled people is now often a requirement of policy formation or legislation within and across national boundaries, such efforts often remain tokenistic in nature. Another implication is that researchers and policymakers often fail to examine the varying personal and social conditions in which neurodivergent people live, and the impact these have on disablement. Academic narratives about neurodiversity and neurodivergent people and cultures often do a disservice to the diversity of views therein, and can create further barriers by constraining or controlling the way neurodivergent people make their own contributions, are interpreted and are talked about.

This stream led by the Participatory Autism Research Collective (PARC) seeks to facilitate a sharing of views across critical perspectives within the neurodiversity field. We seek to broaden the field to include a diverse range of neurodivergent ways of being, bridging fields and connecting concepts and experiences, and also to make a positive change regarding the input of neurodivergent scholarship and to further a participatory ethos.

We welcome papers contributing to these goals. Indicative themes:
  • Participatory and emancipatory research with and by neurodivergent people – theory, method and impact on policy.
  • Defining and diagnosing: Issues of identity, diagnostic categories, and the use and impact of diagnostic categories.
  • The dynamics of knowledge production about neurodivergent people, such as within critical autism studies.
  • The barriers and opportunities in considering embodied situated knowledge and academic expertise, in particular for neurodivergent people working within academia.

We will welcome submissions for papers, workshops, or other activities. We will also be looking to compile a publication from submissions to the stream.

If you have questions, please contact the chair of the PARC network: Damian Milton,

CFP: Creative Work for ‘Translating Chronic Pain’ project, Lancaster

The AHRC-funded research network Translating Chronic Pain: A Critical and Creative Research Network is an eighteen month interdisciplinary critical/creative project based at Lancaster University. Our goal is to bring together people living with persistent pain, representatives from pain charities, creative writers, academics, and medical practitioners. We aim to better represent chronic pain experience by disrupting existing expectations of illness memoir, and to challenge current tendencies in medical humanities scholarship of narrative and wellbeing. Unlike traditional long-form illness narratives, our network will produce and explore what we are calling flash’ illness writing:  fragmentary, episode-focused, short-format work, both word and image.

Emerging from the Creative Manifesto, we invite submissions of ‘flash’ illness writing, short-form creative work:

  • which expresses a moment or fragment of experience of persistent pain;
  • which takes either the perspective of a person experiencing the pain or the perspective of a witness (carer or healthcare professional);
  • which captures any dimension of experience – physical, emotional, social, economic, institutional, medical, spiritual, or creative;
  • which communicates in any emotional register, positive or negative;
  • and which can be shared and used by others to try and communicate the vivid, contradictory, and diverse realities of living with chronic pain.

The parameters:

  • short-form creative writing, from 5 to 150 words,
  • in any form (e.g. prose or poetry; autobiography, fiction, or a blend);
  • optionally can be accompanied by a single image (photograph or artwork);
    can also take the form of a single comic ‘panel’ or short sequence, to fit on a single screen;
  • the fragments/moments/glimpses to be shared online with attribution, under Creative Commons Licensing (BY-NC) 4.0.
  • authors can choose to be anonymous, pseudonymous or named.

Deadline:  Submissions will be added to the project throughout 2018,  but the earlier the submission the more likely it is to receive wider exposure, so early submission is encouraged.

Please see the Creative Manifesto and Information for Participants, and you are welcome to submit work herePlease note we are also holding a Flash Creative Writing Workshop on 28th February in Manchester – please see website for further details.

Book Review: ‘Reading the Psychosomatic in Medical and Popular Culture’, ed. Carol-Ann Farkas (2018)

Book Review: Reading the Psychosomatic in Medical and Popular Culture, edited by Carol-Ann Farkas (London and New York: Routledge, 2018).

Dr Cris Sarg, University of Glasgow

Related image

Reading the Psychosomatic in Medical and Popular Culture (2018) is an edited  collection by Carol-Ann Farkas. As is evident from the title this book examines the perceptions/interpretations of the psychosomatic within both medical and lay culture. The essays ‘seek to understand what the psychosomatic does, what uses we put it to, and what work it does for us: medically, socially, and culturally’ (Farkas, 2018, p.2). These essays both complicate and expand the readers understanding of the psychosomatic. This is because the authors do not merely simplify or define the topic but instead examine and explore it from within via multiple disciplinary perspectives, such as the clinical, historical, sociological, textual and cultural.

The first three essays examine the psychosomatic within clinical encounters. Caryn Rubanovich’s essay examines the conflict between clinicians and patients that is the result of the Western construct of biomedicine bringing those that exhibit psychosomatic symptoms into conflict with medical providers in order to gain the status that a definitive diagnosis confers upon them. The second essay by Maria Guilia Marini et al. provides a direct clinical example of the conflict between clinicians and patients affected by syndromes that have historically fallen under the heading of psychosomatic. They examine disease/care narratives compiled by both clinicians and patients who are dealing with fibromyalgia. The premise is that both patients and clinicians can learn from each other via the journals that both groups kept with the eventual hope of improving both the patient and clinician experience within this encounter. Finally, Claire Hooker and Louise Stone’s essay examines the conflict between patients and clinicians when clinicians insist that nothing is wrong, and proceeds to highlight the influence of the wider cultural and social milieu in shaping what we know and how we experience ill health.

Jessica Parr’s essay shifts the conversation from the clinical towards the historical and cultural and looks at the history of emotional eating in America during the twentieth century. She highlights the disconnect in the popular and medical/scientific understandings of excess weight and how twentieth century advancements in research into physiology and metabolism did not have nearly the same level of popular impact when compared to the models that explain overweight individuals that were provided via the psychological and psychoanalytic. These models assume that the act of overeating as a psychosomatic manifestation for unresolved problems of identity and emotion. ‘[T]his idea reinforces social stigmas and continues to endorse a construction of the self that values the belief that the fat body can be understood and regulated through a mind-body framework’ (Parr, 2018, p.66). Further, Amba Sepie’s essay expands on the idea that only certain ideas and theories have social legitimacy over others. Sepie posits that biomedical practices have had a colonizing effect on discourses of “health” and “illness” and have therefore privileged those discourses that have their roots in the “Western” and “scientific”. Sepie further argues that by lessening hierarchies within the biomedical establishment then discourses of health, wellness and illness can in effect be decolonized and the role of the psychosomatic can become more integrated into practice. In short, ‘it is hoped that this chapter may provide encouragement to look more deeply into cosmological constructions that influence how truths are established and power maintained’ (Sepie, 2018, p.83). Seamus Barker and Lorimer Moseley’s essay continues on to challenge the westernized biomedical model, especially as they appear in various editions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). They use rheological and narratological analysis to challenge the implicit power imbalance between clinicians and patients when the psychosomatic is involved in the encounter.

Maria Tutorskaya’s essay shifts the tone towards textual analysis and examines the passage of medical students from lay people to medical students and finally to physicians via what she terms medicalstudentitis, or medical student hypochondria. She explores the phenomena in its depiction in Vikenty Veresaev’s novel The Memoirs of a Physician (1901) and Eric Segal’s novel Doctors (1988). Tutorskaya argues that the psychosomatic experiences of medical students serve as a metaphor for their transition from one internal identity to another, and that ‘the humanizing benefits of literature might not only contribute to students’ cultural niveau but could lead to a more empathic and compassionate practice of medicine’ (Tutorskaya, 2018, p.111).

Olaug Lian, Catherine Robson and Hilde Bondevik’s essay examines how the female body is stigmatized, especially female exhaustion, within society and literature by the largely male medical profession, which has severed to use these medico-moral assumptions particularly about hysteria and neurasthenia from the nineteenth century to the present to essentially enforce gender normative behavior. They conclude that authors have used psychosomatic identities (i.e. hysteria) as a powerful imputes for female characters that cannot, or will not, fit within the prescribed gender normative narrative that society expects of them. In short, ‘[t]he condition has become more medicalized [over time], but instead of removing blame, as medicalization often does, the ailment is now portrayed in a harmfully judgmental manner’ (Lian, Robson et al., 2018, p.125). Then there is Camelia Raghinaru’s essay, which provides a psychoanalytic reading of the television drama The Sopranos (1999-2007). She argues that the “hysterical” symptoms of a number of the characters, particularly Tony Soprano, are the symbolic manifestation of unresolved neurotic conflicts of identity, specifically as they relate to ideas of (hyper)masculinity, ethnicity and class that are a part of American culture of the late twentieth century. Finally, Hannah Tweed’s essay examines the idea of chaos as normal, as seen through Alasdair Gray’s novel Poor Things (1992). Her essay serves to demonstrate the overlap between postmodern aesthetics and ‘the place of controversial mental illnesses and disabilities in twentieth and twenty-first century cultural productions’ (Tweed, 2018, p.142). Tweed concludes that Gray uses ‘the mutability of diagnostic terminology […] [to] challenge the increasingly pervasive stereotypes surrounding representations of cognitive disability and illness in contemporary popular culture’ (Tweed, 2018, p.149).

As a whole the collection spans the full spectrum of the medical humanities, from the clinical to the literary and everything in between. It is somewhat jarring to the reader to move along this spectrum, but this is mitigated by how the essays are grouped thematically. This critique is relatively minor, and can be leveled at most edited collections. Further, each essay forces the reader to re-examine how they understand and what they know about the psychosomatic and its impact in various circumstances, from its origins and perceived validity to the cultural or social background of the participants of an encounter, whether they be clinicians, patients or society as a whole.



Farkas, Carol-Ann, ed. (2018). Reading the Psychosomatic in Medical and Popular Culture: Something. Nothing. Everything. London and New York: Routledge.

Workshop: ‘Illness and Language’, Oxford

Location: Lecture Theatre, The Richard Doll Building, 11 Old Road Campus, Headington, Oxford, OX3 7LF

Date: 9am – 2pm, 21st March 2018

“Illness and Language”* is a knowledge exchange event funded by Wellcome Trust, designed to promote dialogue between multi-faith chaplains working at Oxford University Hospitals and academics interested in religious themes within medical humanities.


9-9:40 Professor Jane Macnaughton ‘Listening to what is not said: intersubjective relations in the clinical consultation’

9:50-10:30 Dr Neil Vickers ‘The Other as a metaphor for the self: stigma and illness’

10:40-11 Coffee

11-11:40 Dr Katherine Southwood ‘Job’s tortured body and the language of divine assault’

11:50-12:30 Dr Louise Lawrence ‘Blind Spots and Metaphors: Refiguring Sightless Characters in the Gospels’

12:30 Lunch

* CPD applied for. To secure your place on this event please email Katherine Southwood.

Film Screening and Workshop on Disability Studies, Edinburgh

Location: University of Edinburgh

Date: 10am-1pm, Thursday 22nd February 2018

Workshop: ‘Researching disability: Facilitating best practice in inclusive research’

Disabled people have historically been habitually excluded from academic research. Yet, in recent times there has been a shift towards participatory research, and inclusion and participation of ‘users’. However, new researchers to the field or students in the beginning of their research career might be hesitant to conduct research within this field. Researchers might be unsure how to approach individuals with disability, both as partners in research and as participants.  There may also be anxieties about barriers to gaining ethical approval. This workshop aims to help participants to consider these issues, learn from others’ experiences and develop research that is inclusive and empowers rather than focusing on the vulnerability of participants.

We particularly encourage research students and early career researchers to come along and discuss their ideas and get advice and support.

We will provide a panel discussion, workshops, prizes and refreshments.

Ticket are free, and available, along with further details, on our Eventbrite page.


Location: University of Edinburgh

Date: 2-5pm, Thursday 22 February 2018

Film Screening: ‘Defiant lives’

Defiant Lives (Sarah Barton, 2016) is a film, telling the story of the disability rights movement in the United States, Britain and Australia, using archival footage and interviews with activists.

The Disability Research Edinburgh network will host this opportunity to see this film , followed by a discussion and refreshments

Booking and further details available on our Eventbrite page.

For more information about the Festival of Creative learning, see