CFP: Autistic Representation and Engagement in Media Narratives

Deadline for abstracts: 30th November 2019

Autism is becoming a controversial topic within contemporary Western culture, arguably due to a lack of information and out-dated perceptions of the condition. Autistic adults are increasingly using social media as a way to try and get their voices heard, and to challenge prevalent narratives, and what they see as abusive and dangerous practices used to try and ‘cure’ the condition. The Neurodiversity movement in particular, seeks to open up discussion and awareness of Autism as something inherent to Autistic people, rather than as a disease to be cured.

However, the Anti-vax movement has served to further demonise Autistic people, whilst cult celebrities have used social media to attack Autistic activists for criticising problematic charities such as Autism Speaks. Autistic voices are still struggling to be heard, and often suffer from being infantilised or dismissed due to being perceived by archaic labels as “high functioning” and thus not “properly” Autistic.

Representation in media, is therefore, a critical issue for Autistic people. Whilst there is increasingly an acknowledgement of Autism with film and television, the way it is depicted can be controversial. Often Autistic voices are ignored, and not involved in the production of these texts. Children’s television cartoon Pablo stars an Autistic boy and has Autistic voices involved with the production. The stage play All in a Row used a creepy puppet to represent an Autistic child and created a great deal of controversy on social media, including protests from Autistic people. Netflix series Atypical has had mixed reactions due to its perceived stereotypical representations.

There are also a great deal of texts that are not necessarily open about featuring Autistic characters, but which many have interpreted that way. These include Sheldon in The Big Bang Theory, Tilly in Star Trek: Discovery, and various incarnations of The Doctor in Doctor Who. This call for paper is interested in both literal representation in media, but also how Autistic communities and viewers might find and read characters as Autistic.

This is a preliminary call for papers and proposals for an edited collection using a broad range of approaches in the exploration of both Autistic representation and engagement within media texts.

Proposals could address, but are not limited to:

  • Representation of Autism in Film & TV
  • Controversial texts and promotions.
  • Autistic fandom
  • Representations of race and gender
  • Metaphors for Autism in narratives
  • Critical viability and acceptance
  • Historical and political discourses around Autism.
  • Conspiracy narratives
  • Anti-fandom and celebrities
  • Promoting Autism
  • Interpretation characters as Autistic
  • Autistic writers, directors, and actors e.g. Anthony Hopkins
  • Autistic experiences in viewing media
  • Autism, anxiety, and the horror genre
  • Co-morbid conditions and disabilities
  • Right-wing and anti-SJW Autistic fans
  • Fandom, special interests, and hyper-focus
  • Fan-fiction and fan art
  • Neurodiversity movement

Proposals and abstracts of approximately 300 words with a short bio can be submitted to Mark Richard Adams by 30th November 2019, at . Also feel free to email to express interest or with any questions.

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:

Share this:

Categories: MH resourcesPhD ScholarshipsUniversity of GlasgowPost navigation← Save-the-date: Glasgow Medical Humanities Symposium, 15 May 2019Book Review: Disclosures: Rewriting the Narrative about HIV, edited by Angie Spoto (Scotland: Stewed Rhubarb Press, 2018). (96 pp). £10.99. ISBN: 987-1-910416-10-5 →

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comment *

Name *

Email *

WebsiteSearch for: 

Recent Posts

Book Review (Pollitt): ‘Disclosures: Rewriting the Narrative about HIV’, ed. Spoto

Book: Disclosures: Rewriting the Narrative about HIV, edited by Angie Spoto (Scotland: Stewed Rhubarb Press, 2018). (96 pp). £10.99. ISBN: 987-1-910416-10-5

Reviewer: Beverley Pollitt, Liverpool Hope University

Stigma. A highly prevalent concept many of us are familiar with and one which is indisputably associated with HIV. Disclosures: Rewriting the Narrative about HIV is constructed as an informative anthology, offering an enlightening insight into the diverse community who experience this stigma and consequential isolation first-hand. The collective challenges the stigma and common (mis)perceptions of living with HIV by upholding the power and importance of personal narratives. These narratives, belonging directly to those touched by HIV, deliver an open and honest insight into the reality of living with the condition whilst simultaneously offering an alternative understanding which disputes society’s ingrained notion of HIV. Disclosures advocates these narratives as a means of creative activism, an activism which it does undeniably well.

When HIV first arose, a lack of education within society was apparent. Many carried the damaging (mis)conception it was a killer disease contracted through ‘dirty’ behaviour. Society treated those who were diagnosed as ‘lepers’ and who were to be avoided at all costs. This landscape is now vastly different, society has evolved, education surrounding HIV has improved and this steadfast attitude contested. However, the stalwart stigma associated with HIV has been so profoundly ingrained within the core of society, more work still needs to be done. Although medical developments and interventions have contributed widely to lived experiences, an attitudinal gulf between HIV and the ‘norm’ is still at large. It is at this crucial point where Disclosures and its poignant ethos successfully emerges. It comes at a time when other marginalised groups and disabled people are revolting against the autocratic effects of hostile stigmas whilst advocating for self-empowerment and liberation. By providing a platform, Disclosures allows those with HIV the opportunity for their voices to be heard and to join this revolution.

The narratives contained within Disclosures emanate from a vastly intersectional and diverse collective, touching on the lives of men, women, transsexuals, homosexuals, heterosexuals, young, old and even nuns. The singular commonality between the collective (besides HIV) is they all reside in Scotland and as such, have personal experience of Scottish HIV services and facilities. Furthermore, the collection draws on a captivating variety of contributions including poetry, imagery and protagonist narratives, all of which rewrite the narrative of HIV by providing unique, personal insights contesting society’s entrenched stigmas. Recitals from friends and families are also included, contributing to a deeper dimension of awareness. Each piece of work is delicately interwoven, creating a powerful yet emotive anthology which enriches the understanding of HIV from multiple perspectives.

By including an extensive array of material and views editor Angie Spoto has ensured she has been successful in disputing the pervasive historic opinion that HIV affects “only gay men or drug users” (p.vii). Spoto joined HIV Scotland, a leading policy organisation, as their artist in residence with the view of reshaping the narrative through storytelling and thus, the collection was born. She has strategically designed Disclosures so it is periodically punctuated with information relating to the key areas of public policy for which HIV Scotland advocate. This arrangement draws attention to significant areas of development whilst shrewdly revealing those with HIV encounter troublesome barriers extending beyond attitudinal stigmas.

A common theme appearing within the contributions is the influence/dominance of medical interventions. This extends to a gaze which deems those with HIV as objects of curiosity who now belong to the sciences. NJ Millar so poignantly captures this in “Jormungandr”,stating “I do feel like a lab rat in a trap” (p.5), a sentiment in her prose which would evoke empathy from even the most hardened reader. Meanwhile Michael Nugent, in “It Couldn’t be Me”, recounts speaking with a doctor: “Wait a fucking minute here, doc. This is my life”; the implication is that once diagnosis occurs, people are stripped of their humanity with their bodies becoming medical specimens. Whilst there is a requirement for medication to render the virus undetectable, these accounts give further gravitas as to why the prehistoric stigmas of HIV need to be rewritten.

Another unmistakable tenet of the collection is the way it sensitively approaches the stigma associated with sexual deviance and promiscuity. Interlaced between the varying accounts is the impassioned offering “Texan Condoms”in which Kevin Crowe subtly tackles the taboo of homosexuality and promiscuous sex. Crowe’s prose draws not only on his experience of supporting a friend with the diagnosis but is also reminiscent of the awareness of HIV as a sexually transmitted infection within the gay community. RJ Arkhipov’s account “afterwards atop the bedsheets” considers post-coital euphoria and uses the intimate image of entwinement within the bedcovers as a metaphor for a shroud, generating a stark reality of the sinister tombstone HIV represents to many. James Stewart’s poem “Our First breath is In”, quite simply likens the sexual transmission of HIV as being as innocent and natural as breathing in and out. A tender comparison which reminds the reader we are all at risk of HIV, regardless of sexual preference. In contrast to this gentle offering, Stephen Duffy’s hard-hitting piece “Play it Again, SAM” takes the reader on an emotional journey considering the everlasting effects of rape which emerge long after the physical scars have healed. The collection navigates its way round this controversial but complex topic with sophistication and elegance; for this it must be applauded.

Whilst Disclosures successfully offers the reader a moving alternative to the archaic understanding of HIV through protagonist narratives, it also effectively highlights the lack of service and support available post-diagnosis. Michael Nugent’s “It Couldn’t be Me”recounts the start of his diagnostic journey and having to fight to see a doctor, then how following diagnosis he was left in a state of uncertain limbo pending specialist appointments. He recalls being handed leaflets as a source of information, an impersonal approach at a point in time where people require human interaction for emotional guidance and support. This recital is evidence of the unjust support service available in Scotland leaving the reader to question the services available throughout the United Kingdom and beyond. Disclosures takes the reader on a subconsciously emotional journey, culminating in anger at the lack of services and support which should be available at an undoubtedly turbulent time. Feelings of empathy are evoked throughout the entire anthology, but it is during this story the political implications of HIV become apparent. People with HIV require a higher level of support owing to the hostile and unfavourable stigma associated with the condition, a support which Disclosures uncomfortablyreveals they are being denied. This emotional rollercoaster gives only a snippet into the lived reality of HIV, yet it is enough to make the reader reconsider the archaic, damaging HIV narrative which is still rooted within contemporary society. This therefore renders Disclosures a further success.

Matthew Lynch draws attention to HIV and mental health in his unique offering. Lynch’s piece is a stimulating singular image, noticeably the only image contained within the collection (aside from accompanying artwork) and remains untitled. His representation movingly depicts a darkly coloured head silhouette set against a dull grey backdrop where colourful medication can be seen travelling down the oesophagus. Most strikingly, the image illustrates a maze of scribbles and chaotic lines representing the brain and is successful in its aim of drawing the reader’s attention to HIV and mental health. The image is a passionate reminder of the dark places encountered on a journey with HIV, a journey which would unquestionably be affected by negative stigmatisations. Whilst the impact of the anthology would have benefited from the inclusion of several more images and depictions, Lynch’s contribution effectively encompasses a multitude of salient concepts and one which indisputably challenges the readers’ present understanding. Moreover, he effectively refutes dominant narratives of HIV by using his powerful inimitable portrayal to present a lived experience which serves to rewrite the narrative of HIV and justifies why Disclosures is an essential contribution to this process.

The collection is a valuable influence in the understanding of HIV. In order to develop the aim and ethos of Disclosures further, it would benefit by extending to include narratives from other geographical locations. Whilst the book focuses solely on the services and experiences of the Scottish demographic, it provides an honest, valuable insight regardless of geographical location. These experiences are only a snapshot yet can be understood to be representative of the entire HIV community. The book is effective in reaching this segregated community who may pick it up out of curiosity and a sense of solidarity alongside being appealing to the general public. It is compiled and written in a manner accessible by many, promoting an ease of understanding and by doing so, widens its intended audience to encompass all areas of society. This deliberate methodology allows Disclosures to capitalise on its maximum audience potential thus ensuring HIV stigma is contested on a widespread basis. The greater the access to the anthology, the greater in its success Disclosures will be.

There is a noticeable respect for the experiences detailed, an admiration which the contributors rightly deserve for their honesty and willingness to share their stories, and for this, Angie Spoto must be commended. Disclosures must be cherished as an alternative form of education which focuses on exploring the lived reality of HIV rather than how it can be contracted, contained and medicated. This alternative education enlightens others by providing captivating replacements to the inherent understanding of HIV and serves to remove the stalwart stigma surrounding HIV effectively. It is my contention this anthology has been successful in its determined aim, it is highly enjoyable and everyone should buy a copy!  

CFP: Special Issue of C21, ‘Surveilling the Body: Ableism and Anglophone Literature’

C21 Call for Papers

Special Issue: “Surveilling the Body: Ableism and Anglophone Literature”

Guest edited by Dr Susan Flynn and Dr Antonia Mackay

Deadline for articles: 1st May 2019

Surveillance Studies has made a substantial contribution to interrogations of human rights offences by helping to document instances of discrimination in recent times. Indeed, examinations of the ‘culture’ of surveillance have been useful in examining the myriad occasions of human rights offences in issues such as race (Browne 2012; Flynn and Mackay 2018), yet surveillance practices via literature, especially those associated with the discourse of ableism, have been largely ignored. This special issue aims to initiate new discussions of ableism in the discourses of surveillance through literature and engage with the issues of the non-normate body, particularly as surveillance uses the normalizing technologies of power to monitor, control and regulate behaviours and mobilities of certain bodies.

In contemporary literature, the forms of agency and subjectivity available to those who are outside the hegemonic ‘norm’ are often limited; literature is most often written with a mainstream readership in mind and thus can be read as deeply ‘ableist’. Interrogating instances of ableism in characterisation and in narrative arcs calls for an examination of how (unearned) privilege attaches to those who can conform to the supposed norm. Such a lens interrogates the status quo as opposed to seeking the ‘inclusion’ of persons with disabilities within extant social structures. This special issue is particularly concerned with twenty-first century writing and its complex relationship both with surveillance and with representations of disability. We are aware of the tendency for dominant groups to project their own experiences as representative of all humanity thereby excluding other groups – we hope to preclude this by providing a broad range of readings and approaches from a diverse authorship. We are interested in readings of new texts which engage with the surveillance of disability or with radical readings of texts dealing with either intellectual, physical or acquired disability.

Papers might include topics such as:

  • The role of surveillance in (dis)abling bodies in contemporary fiction, poetry, short stories and drama
  • The complexity of the representation of the corporeal body in Twenty-First Century Anglophone writings
  • The manner in which surveillance can affect the marginalisation of groups of peoples in Anglophone literary discourse
  • The hypervisibility of the body with disability in poetry, drama and written narratives
  • Representations of surveilled spaces which impact upon the able and disabled characterisation of identity from within contemporary settings
  • Consideration of how the lens contributes to definitions of types of bodies in Anglophone writings
  • Hypertextual readings of contemporary literature which contribute to the enabling of otherwise marginalised bodily movement through narratoglical means
  • The impact of gender/race/sexuality on surveilling the body
  • The implications of ableist forms of surveillance in literature in our contemporary political climate
  • Digital storytelling and the visibility of disability rights and culture
  • Digital platforms as a means to re-vision the body with disability

Articles of 6000 – 8000 words along with a short bio (150 words) should be sent to Dr Susan Flynn ( and Dr Antonia Mackay ( by 1st May 2019.