CFP: Blind Creations: An International Conference on Blindness and the Arts

28th-30th June 2015, Royal Holloway, University of London, UK

Call for Papers

This three-day international conference seeks to explore the relationship between blind people and artistic creation. Our definition of ‘blind person’ is broad, encompassing anyone who might be defined as having ‘non-normative vision’ and / or who relates to the world using senses other than sight. It welcomes interventions from blind and non-blind academics (with or without institutional affiliation), practitioners, advocates, writers and artists (also broadly defined to include musicians, dancers and sculptors as well as visual artists). It sees blind people not only as subjects in their own right, but also as active creators; as such it rejects the ‘medical model’ of disability which posits blind people as passive objects of medical investigation and rehabilitation. In so doing it hopes to challenge and reconceptualise the myths and stereotypes of ‘blindness’ which continue to circulate by recasting ‘blindness’ as a multi-faceted and positive creative force which might be usefully explored by both non-blind and blind people.

We welcome proposals for 15-20 minute papers or suggestions for panels of 3 or 4 papers, Offers of performances or installations are also invited on any aspect of the creative intersections between blindness and the arts. Possible topics include (but are not limited to):

  • Audio description: art form or instruction manual?
  • Creative ways of reading: Braille, audiobooks, large print
  • Depictions of blindness in literature, visual art, performance and film: pitfalls       and possibilities
  • Metaphors of Blindness vs Embodied Experience: a creative tension?
  • Museums and Galleries: Curating and Displaying Art and Artefacts for and by     Blind people
  • Blindness and Visual Culture: A Creative Contradiction?
  • Histories of Blindness and their Creation
  • Translating Blindness: linguistic and cultural comparisons
  • Non-Visual Arts: Music and Sculpture
  • Creative Practices and Adaptive Technologies (past and present)
  • The Creative Possibilities of Blindness

The conference, which will take place on 28th-30th June 2015 at Royal Holloway’s campus in Egham, Surrey, is co-organized by Hannah Thompson (Royal Holloway) and Vanessa Warne (University of Manitoba). We are pleased to announce that the conference will feature three plenary speakers, Prof Georgina Kleege (UC Berkeley), Prof Stephen Kuusisto (Syracuse University) and Zina Weygand. We plan to host a number of cultural events, including a Blindness in Fiction Writers’ Roundtable (featuring novelist and poet, Naomi Foyle), a tactile museum tour, and an audio-described film screening. While we are in the process of applying for funding to offset attendance costs, delegates can expect to pay between £160 and £210 to attend the conference. (This includes 2 nights’ accommodation, conference registration, wifi, and all refreshments during the three-day event).

A 200-word abstract together with a 50-word presenter biographical statement and details of any AV and access requirements should be sent to Vanessa Warne ( by 15th October 2014. More information about the event can be found on the conference website:

Dr Hannah Thompson
Reader in French

Royal Holloway, University of London
Surrey TW20 0EX

Follow me on twitter @BlindSpotHannah

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