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 ( 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:

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