CFP: ‘Cultures of Toxicity’, Warwick

Location: University of Warwick

Date: Fri 8th – Say 9th November 2019

Deadline for abstracts: 31st March 2019

In Todd Haynes’ 1995 film Safe, Carol (Julianne Moore) is plagued by ‘multiple chemical sensitivities’. The character experiences her environment as a series of toxic threats that cause accumulating and varied physical and psychical consequences. The film concludes with Carol holed up, alone, in an antiseptic pod in a therapeutic community in the desert. She will be safe here, as long as she remains insulated against the ever-increasing threats of the contemporary world. Thus, it is only through a radically diminished life of social and cultural isolation that Carol can survive and be ‘well’. Safe, then, raises a series of questions about the nature and value of toxicity, vulnerability, safety, and resilience that have become culturally central in the twenty-first century.

This conference aims to explore the concept of toxicity in relation to a number of contemporary political concerns including culture, health, economics, gender, and ecology. We are concerned to examine how cultural practices (from theatre to graphic fiction) and critical methodologies, for example in performance studies, are contributing to, and intervening in, contemporary anxieties about safety, risk and toxicity.

This conference brings together a number of distinct but interlocking ideas. There is a striking contemporary habit to identify phenomena as toxic – from masculinity to assets, from cultures to environments. In this way, ‘toxic’ no longer simply refers to specific physical substances but rather to practices, attitudes, structures and more. Such practices serve to constitute people as multiply helpless, liable to plural risks and dangers. Discourses in health and wellbeing movements, for example, frequently reinforce images of people as vulnerable and promote forms of individualised self-governance and vigilance that obscure real social and political processes. Related, in the global north, we are living through a period of renewed debates about freedom of speech, trigger warnings, and safe spaces on campuses and beyond, all of which tacitly frame art and ideas as potential threats. In this regard, contemporary individuality involves becoming a watchful and resilient guard of one’s sovereign bodily security against infinite and immaterial dangers. Toxicity is, then, both concrete and atmospheric.

What is at stake in such images, narratives, and metaphors of toxicity? How far does describing something like masculinity as ‘toxic’ efface questions of ethics, power, patriarchy and reinscribe womanhood (and other marginalised categories of identity) as inevitably vulnerable? To what degree does toxicity reproduce attitudes to identity and history that are both individualising and fatalistic? In what ways does the notion of ‘safety’ operate as a means to neutralise political complaint or resistance? Or might the language of toxicity be politically generative, insisting on the real-world effects of patterns of behaviour, structures of economic speculation and disparate practices of environmental depletion? Does toxicity expose faultlines in cultural norms, understandings, and values? Put simply, what does toxicity mean and what does it do?How is toxicity produced, sustained, and distributed? The conference thus seeks to examine what lies beneath labels of toxicity and interrogate the complex politics of threat, vulnerability, safety, and resistance.

We invite papers of 20 minutes that respond to notions of cultures of toxicity in relation to a wide range of areas including:

  • Arts, culture, and performance
  • Gender and sexuality
  • Health and wellbeing
  • Education and pedagogy
  • Environments and ecologies
  • Structures and systems
  • Government and policy
  • Political organisation and expression
  • Economics and finance
  • Communities and cultures

The conference will take place at the University of Warwick on Friday 8th and Saturday 9th November 2019 and will include a keynote paper from Professor Frank Furedi.  We would like to receive abstracts of no more than 300 words with an accompanying biog of up to 150 words by 31st March 2019. Please send your abstract and any questions to and

CFP: Special Issue of Journal of Lesbian Studies, ‘Lesbian Lives, Disabled Lives’

Deadline for proposals: March 1, 2019

Guest Editor: Stefanie Snider, PhD, Assistant Professor of Art History, Kendall College of Art and Design, Grand Rapids, MI


This special issue of The Journal of Lesbian Studies seeks contributions on the overlapping identities and theories of lesbian and disabled lives. Here the terms lesbian and disabled are broadly defined and include physically disabled, chronically ill, neurodiverse, and mad queer, two-spirit, trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming people.

Topics might include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Aesthetics of lesbian disability and disabled lesbianism
  • Interdependence and care work (Piepzna-Samarasinha, 2018) in disabled and lesbian lives
  • Issues of embodiment as related to lesbian and disabled lives
  • Physical and theoretical relationships between lesbian sexualities and disability
  • Pedagogical approaches across age groups for lesbian and disabled subjects
  • Literary analysis of fiction, personal essays, and memoirs by disabled lesbian folks
  • Being disabled and lesbian in the workplace; in school; in the arts; in politics
  • Interconnections between critical race, trans, lesbian, queer, and disability studies and theories
  • Links between feminist disability, mad studies and lesbian studies

Please send your 250-500 word article proposal and current CV to the journal’s guest editor, Stefanie Snider (, by 1st March 2019. Contributors will be notified of the status of their proposal by 30th March 2019 and full manuscripts (4,000-6,000 words) will be due by 1st August 2019.

CFP: Special Issue of Literacy, ‘Literacies and Disability’

Guest Editors: Owen Barden & David Bolt

Disability, in the field of education, is often conceptualised along the lines of accessibility and/or so-called Special Educational Needs. When we think of disability in relation to literacy, too often the focus seems to be on notions of access, support, and interventions that seek to make learners conform to (or at least approximate) curricular literate norms.  While these issues are of great importance, and critical engagement with them is to be encouraged, they only represent part of what we are interested in here. Envisaging a more profound version of inclusion, our focus in this special issue is on acknowledging ontologies and epistemologies of disabled people, and specifically how these are mediated through interactions with texts.   Through doing so, we seek to explore more complex understandings that recognise disability in terms of indifference, difficulties, and qualities, in accordance with the tripartite model. We aim to help shift the debate from regarding inclusion merely as a legal and moral imperative, to valuing it as an educational opportunity. As David Mitchell and Sharon Snyder argue in The Biopolitics of Disability (2015), until disability is recognised in the context of alternative lives and values that neither enforce nor reify normalcy, we cannot fully appreciate the material and ethical alternatives disabled people’s lives manifest. We take the view that students, scholars, educators and other professionals interested in literacies should celebrate diverse bodies and minds as forms of expertise, meaning that disability can become an active, unabashed, and less stigmatised part of educational discourse. The aim of this special issue, then, is to encourage appreciation of disability through presenting examples of such alternative literacies expertise.

We welcome reports of recent empirical research on intersections of disability and literacies; informed and analytical accounts of innovative practice which fosters appreciation of diverse bodies and minds; critiques of recent policy developments and examination of their impact; and theoretical explorations that contribute to our understanding of the relationships between disability and literacy. Submissions should conform to the standard author guidelines for Literacy.

Potential topics for submission might include, but are not limited to:

  • Literacies, voice and disability
  • Literacy policy and disability
  • Disability, literacies and literature
  • Disability and new/digital literacies
  • Disability and multimodality
  • Literacies in disability lifewriting
  • Methodological issues/approaches in researching disability and literacies
  • Conceptualising/theorising disability and literacies
  • Literacies and normalcy
  • Embodiment and literacies; how literacy practices are mediated through diverse bodies and minds
  • Literacies and stigma
  • Disabled identities and literacies
  • Representations of disability in curricular texts


  • Call issued May 2019
  • Deadline for submissions January 2020
  • Publication January 2021

CFP: Edited Collection, ‘The Lighthouse: Blackness, Disability, and State Violence between the US and Canada’

In his recent work, Black on Both Sides, critical scholar C. Riley Snorton (2017) offers an analysis “particularly attentive to the possibilities of valorizing—without necessarily redeeming—different ways of knowing and being” in the world. Fundamentally, his work is invested in “reviving and inventing strategies for inhabiting unlivable worlds.” The Lighthouse attends, similarly, to propose sets of relation and being between blackness and disability from slavery to the present. This collection also, foundationally, seeks language and strategies for addressing a more present state of things. Namely, it intends towards a love wide enough to pull us to the center. Who, amongst us, has been left unattended in the world? Or to rephrase this more blackly: How can we make our lives—as Black, disabled, neurodiverse, living under conditions of scarcity and debility—more legible in the world, by better attending to one another and by our own design? Listening closely, still, to Toni Morrison’s old and ever-present warning (1975) about the distractive nature of white supremacy, here lies the metaphor of the collection’s namesake: Black disabled life is a lighthouse—historically, a rippling warning outward, and now, a beacon calling us home to the shoreline in these times of urgency. This collection is our work, our reason for being.

This edited collection, supported by Duke University Press, brings together critical essays that connect the subjects of blackness, disability, and state violence within the US and Canada. Since the American Revolution, the US and Canada have been bound by a histories of enslavement, forced migrations of free and enslaved Black populations, and dispersal throughout the Atlantic world. As Canadian poet M. NourbeSe Philip reminds in her astrological choreopoem Black with Holes (1998), “You cannot talk about space/ As it relates to Black people/ To African people/ Without talking about movement/ Or moving through space/ And once you talk about moving through space/ As it relates to Africans/ Then you must confront the forces/ That prohibit or restrict that moving.”

For Black peoples in the US and Canada, the border historically served as a site of oscillating violence that both seduced and betrayed Black families fleeing northward for a better life. Over the last century, Black Canadians and Black Americans have similarly experienced exponential increases in state violence and incarceration within their communities. These experiences affirm the persistence and transnationality of anti-Black violence produced by settler colonialism in Canada and the US. Yet, these Black geographies are seldom discussed in relation to one another. Recently, Canadian activist and scholar Robyn Maynard (2017) published the first book centering the realities of Black Canadian life in the context of state violence. Building, in part, upon this crucial area of scholarship, this collection seeks to bring more fully into conversation, the realities of Black life throughout North America.

Divided into a number of centrally themed areas, this collection begins with a living annotated bibliography paying homage to Black disabled writers and scholars whose work has been both foundational and disruptive within the fields of disability and critical disability studies, and has provided a broader understanding of the experience of disability and anti-blackness in North America.

The editors welcome essays of 3,000-6,000 words on the following themes:

  • Disability and enslavement in North America, and theorizing its history to contemporary policies and acts of state violence
  • Comparative histories of slavery between the US and Canada and disability. For example, how do the distinct systems of slavery between the US and Canada account for the kinds of anti-blackness that shape the terrain of both nations in the present?
  • Enslavement, the body, and the history of industrial capitalism
  • Black womanhood, reproductive labor, and Black motherhood as uninterrogated sites of disability, past and present
  • “Debility,” capitalism, and anti-blackness
  • Disability, institutions, and state violence
  • Blackness, disability, and police violence
  • Schooling, disability, and anti-blackness
  • Motherhood, mental health, and community support
  • Black women, gender violence, and mental health
  • Blackness and neurodiversity/Blackness as neurodiversity
  • Disability and sexual violence

Importantly, the final section addresses the prevalence and great dilemma of disability stigmatization within the workplace, including spaces of Black community organizing, and specifically calls for critical disability trainings and a greater ethics of care within community-based work as one way of addressing lateral violence within grassroots and not for profit organizations. Welcome topics include:

  • Organizations, ableism, and change
  • Lateral violence, disability, and accountability
  • Transformative justice and disability: How can transformative justice practices better attend to the conditions that shape the experiences of disability in the lives of Black people?


  • 1st May 2019: Deadline for 500 word abstract proposal
  • 1st September 2019: Draft essay due
  • 1st March 2020: Final draft due



Rachel Zellars is a lawyer, professor, former executive director, and longtime organizer living in Montreal, QC. Her scholarly work focuses on Black migration through Canada after the Revolution, its connection to the Atlantic world, and the history of gender violence within Black radical traditions. Her community work is focused on gender violence, Black women and children, and accountability. Currently, she is a postdoctoral fellow in History at the University of Vermont and a visiting scholar at Concordia University.

Gift Tshuma is an activist, music composer, and a motivational speaker, with a background in Sociology and a minor in Law and Society from Concordia University. Over the past decade, he has been heavily involved in advocacy for disability rights and accessibility issues in Montreal. As a co-founding member of a grassroots group: Accessibilize Montreal, he has been involved in numerous initiatives targeting discriminatory infrastructure, both physical and social, that excludes people with diverse bodies and minds from public spaces and stigmatizes them. He currently holds positions at the Office for Students with Disabilities at McGill University and at Centre for Gender Advocacy at Concordia University. Gift carries a wealth of experience in the non-profit, health, public, technical and service sectors; he is committed to social justice issues and in the empowerment of marginalized communities. For the past 5 years, Gift has been working as an Advisor in accessibility and universal design.

CFP: Special Issue of JLCDS, ‘Chronic Illness and Representation’

Guest editors: Ana Bê (Liverpool Hope University) and Emma Sheppard (City, University of London)

This special issue of the Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies will consider the representation of chronic illness.

Disability studies has for a number of years engaged closely with understanding chronic illness as a category of impairment (Thomas, 2008). Significant early contributions have been made by authors such as Carol Thomas and Susan Wendell and books such as Dissonant Disabilities: Women with Chronic Illnesses Explore Their Lives(2008). It is also important to recognize the relevance of more recent contributions such as those of Alyson Patsavas and Mel Chen in the context of cripistemologies (2014), as well as those offered by Alison Kafer in problematizing the role of pain and fatigue (2013), and Hillary Gravendyk’s concept of ‘chronic poetics’ (2014).

There has been increasing discussion, representation, and awareness of chronic illness in recent years – as part of, and distinct from, disability. Celebrities and public figures such as Lady Gaga have candidly discussed their experiences of chronic illness and been open about the obstacles they have faced, while Jennifer Brea’s documentary Unrest (2017) ignited further discussion. Bitch magazine’s In Sickness series (2017) presented complex and intersectional analysis of chronic illness and feminism. Social media has helped develop a culture of activism around chronic illness, from support groups to activist pages and the creation of memes. Recent films, such as Love and Other Drugs and The Big Sick, have provided audiences with popular representations of chronic illness.

However, there remains a substantial gap in this part of the field of disability studies, and we would like to make a start on filling it by inviting contributions that focus on cultural representations of chronic illness in a range of different cultural mediums–from literature to film, to TV and social media. We aim to take stock of how representations of chronic illness might have developed and what these are telling us about how we understand this experience.

Chronic illnesses are sometimes also designated as long-term health conditions or chronic diseases. For the purposes of this issue, we use the term chronic illness as it tends to resonate in activist circles. Our understanding of chronic illness is underpinned by Susan Wendell’s definition: ‘Usually, they [chronic illnesses] are understood to be illnesses that do not go away by themselves within six months, that cannot reliably be cured, and that will not kill the patient any time soon’ (Wendell 1996:20). Within this definition, we include experiences of undocumented illness (Mollow, 2014)–illnesses that have no recognised or agreed upon classification, whose cause is debated, and the experience of which is often dismissed. Therefore, the definition is quite open, and fits a wide range of experiences, but we emphasize that our understanding of chronic illness is also based on a shared disability studies politics that sees this experience as being framed by both social oppression and impairment effects.

Possible topics for papers include, but are not limited to:

●        Documentary film

●        Fictions and stories of chronic illness

●        Social media representations and cultures of chronic illness

●        Intersections of race, gender, sexuality and chronic illness

●        Chronic illness and celebrity

●        Cripping and queering chronic illness

●        Crip time and chronic illness

●        Representations of chronic illness in art

●        Global perspectives on cultures of chronic illness

●        Masculinities and chronic illness

●        Cripistemologies of chronic illness

●        Historical perspectives on chronic illness

●        Activism and cultural representations

●        Theater, performance and chronic illness

●        Poetry and chronic illness

●        Representations of chronic pain and fatigue

●        Music and chronic illness


15th April, 2019: submission of a 500-word proposal for articles or a 150-word proposal for reviews and a short bio (150 words) to both the guest editors Ana Bê ( and Emma Sheppard (

28th June, 2019: prospective authors notified of proposal status.

1st December, 2020: Full versions of selected papers due to editors.

June, 2020: Finalists selected.  Decisions and revisions on submissions sent to authors.

September, 2020: Final, revised papers due.

CFP: ‘New Directions in Critical Disability Studies Postgraduate Symposium’, Sheffield

Date: 10am – 4pm, 9th July 2019

Location: Workroom 4, on the first floor of 38 Mappin Street, University of Sheffield, S1 4DT

This one-day symposium invites postgraduate researchers to engage with some of these questions as they relate to their own research projects. The day offers the exciting possibility of learning with and from one another to think about the different directions that are now being taken within critical disability studies. Each speaker will offer a unique contribution to the day, drawing upon the theoretical and methodological frameworks of their PhD project. The call for papers is intentionally broad in order to provide an open and flexible space for these new directions to be debated and discussed. While broad, presenters are brought together through their interest in both developing, and initiating, new directions in critical disability studies. We hope to meet with postgraduate researchers from a range of institutions and seek to explore the following questions:

What does it mean to be human?

What does it mean to be pushed to the peripheries of its borders?

How might we confront these borders and rethink the dominant territory of the ‘normal’ human?

How, as a collective of postgraduate researchers, can we have honest and open conversations about what the human is, isn’t, and could be?

We welcome proposals from postgraduate researchers who position their work within the field of CDS. We are interested in exploring some of the new directions you are taking this field within the unique parameters of your PhD topic. Abstracts should be between 150 and 200 words.

Please send your abstract, and brief bio, to on or before Wednesday 13th March, 2019. We aim to respond to you by Monday 15th April with our decisions.

The symposium will take place in Workroom 4, on the first floor of 38 Mappin Street, University of Sheffield, S1 4DT. This space has access to accessible toilet facilities, gender-neutral toilets, car-parking, and with level access into the building. The building does not play background music. Lift access is available next to workroom 4.

More info on accessibility has been created by Disabled Go

An interactive map of the building is available following this link

This is a free event and lunch and light refreshments will be provided.

If you have any questions, please feel free to get in touch with us

More information can be found here.


PhD Scholarship: “Remake Up” and paramedical tattooing, Glasgow

Application Deadline: Friday 15 March 2019

An ESRC SGSSS Collaborative PhD scholarship is available in HGRG at University of Glasgow with Hester Parr and Chris Philo and Emma Laurie – based on partnership with Remake Up( a social enterprise in Glasgow that uses profits to fund free permanent make-up (paramedical tattooing) for those with disfigurement or critical illness experiences. This research will explore the politics and practices of changing facial aesthetics and create an impactful research record for charities, social enterprise and NHS services that provide aesthetic reconstructions. 

Further details:

Applications are live – deadline is in March.

If you have questions please feel free to email Hester Parr:

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