The formal turn is well underway in Critical Disability Studies. Inaugurated by David Mitchell and Sharon Snyder’s Narrative Prosthesis, Robert McRuer’s Crip Theory, Tobin Siebers’ Disability Aesthetics, and Robin Blyn’s The Freak-Garde, the formal analysis of works by disabled artists and about disabled subjects seeks to analyze and taxonomize disability aesthetics in their manifold structures, modes, and styles. As Siebers persuasively argues, “disability aesthetics” both “names a critical concept that seeks to emphasize the presence of disability in the tradition of representation” and “refuses to recognize representation of the healthy body—and its definition of harmony, integrity, and beauty—as the sole criteria of the aesthetic.” The refusal of “normative” formal values that Siebers and others see as so fundamental to disability aesthetics is also a defining feature of the avant-garde, which Timothy Yu argues is “an aesthetic and a social grouping, defined as much by its formation of a distinctive kind of community as by its revolutionary aesthetics.” But though avant-garde art and literature of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries are filled with what Michael Bérubé calls “deployments of disability”—that include both characterization and narrative form—and though many of history’s most famous avant-garde artists and writers have been disabled, the centrality of disability to the avant-garde remains undertheorized.
Narratives of "passing" grapple with questions of how bodies might move through space, and what the personal, social, and cultural implications of that "passage" might be. Graduate students from GWU and consortium universities will present work on this topic, followed by our keynote speaker, Patricia Akhimie (Rutgers University-Newark) who will share research from her current book project Leaving Home: Early Modern Women's Travel. We will also feature for the first time a special panel of undergraduate presenters.
Presenting material from an in-progress dissertation chapter in a paper entitled "There Is No Future, There Is No Past: Cripping Chronicity and the Death Drive in the AIDS Musical."
Presenting, "'Today for you, tomorrow for me': Queer Contagion and Crip Chronicity in the AIDS Musical," which investigates chronicity and crip time in Jonathan Larson's Rent; Moderating a Spotlight on GWU Undergraduate Research in Disability Studies panel comprised of students from my Fall 2017 Disability Studies course.
DC Theatre seminar for visiting undergraduates from Centre College and Butler University, organized around the Women's Voices Theater Festival. Students will attend performances from the regional premiere runs of two plays in the festival: Danai Gurira's Familiar, at Woolly Mammoth, and Sarah DeLappe's The Wolves, being produced by Studio Theatre.