CALL FOR PAPERS

Bodily Realities: Engaging the Discourse of Dis/Ability 

46th Annual Cleveland Symposium

Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, Ohio

Friday, October 30, 2020

 

The physical body is often a contested space for artists and art audiences, but one that offers abundant possibilities for exploring and expressing identity. Physical ability or disability is a key component of identity and can have a profound impact on artistic production, subject matter, and reception. Art can play a significant role in shaping the often problematic discourse surrounding this topic. Bodily Realities: Engaging the Discourse of Dis/Ability seeks to generate a dialogue about the relationship between ability and disability in the visual arts and art museums in an effort to understand the role of bodily differences in artistic practice, representation, and viewership. This symposium will address the ways in which the visual arts and artists either confirm or challenge the perceived dichotomy of the normative and non-normative physical body.

The Department of Art History and Art at Case Western Reserve University invites graduate students to submit abstracts for its 2020 Annual Symposium Bodily Realities: Engaging the Discourse of Dis/Ability. The Cleveland Symposium is one of the longest-running annual art history graduate symposia in the United States, organized by students in the joint graduate program with the Cleveland Museum of Art.

 

Untitled, 1990. Robert Gober (American, b. 1954). Wax, wood, leather shoe, cotton fabric, human hair;                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              overall: 29.6 x 16 x 51.2 cm (11 5/8 x 6 5/16 x 20 3/16 in.). The Cleveland Museum of Art, Dorothea Wright                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Hamilton Fund 2003.226 © Robert Gober, Courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery. Image courtesy of the Cleveland Museum of Art.

 

With keynote speaker: Dr. Petra Kuppers, The University of Michigan

Petra Kuppers is a disability culture activist, a community artist, and a Professor of English, Women’s Studies, Theatre and Dance, and Art and Design at the University of Michigan. She also teaches on the low-residency MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts at Goddard College and leads The Olimpias, a performance research collective (www.olimpias.org). Thematically, her work encompasses disability studies, performance studies, critical theory and poetics, medical humanities, and the general fields of arts and expression, arts and health, and arts and community building.

Her Disability Culture and Community Performance: Find a Strange and Twisted Shape (2011) explores arts-based research methods, and her most recent academic monograph is Theatre & Disability (2017). Her Studying Disability Arts and Culture: An Introduction (2014) is full of practical exercises for classrooms and studios. Her other academic books include Disability and Contemporary Performance: Bodies on Edge (2003), The Scar of Visibility: Medical Performance and Contemporary Art (2007), Community Performance: An Introduction (2007, second edition 2019), Somatic Engagement (2011), and Disability Arts and Culture: Methods and Approaches (2019).

This year’s symposium welcomes innovative research papers that explore the issues of ability and disability in and around the creation, reception, and circulation of the visual arts. Submissions may explore aspects of this theme as manifested in any medium as well as in any historical period and geographical location. Different methodological perspectives are welcomed.

Potential topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • The role of physical disability in the construction of identities
  • How the body relates to notions of normativity, abnormality, and hybridity
  • Disability as a physical reality, but a social construct
  • Stigmatization and stereotypes of the disabled body 
  • The fragmented, altered, disfigured, or modified body 
  • The body as a site of trauma, violence, pain, and/or effort
  • The body’s relationship to health, illness, and recovery
  • Clinical uses of art and artistic practice for disabled and non-disabled bodies
  • The intersections of body and mind in the discourse of disability
  • The power dynamics of ability and disability
  • Accessibility in the art museum and cultural sites 
  • Interactions with disabled bodies through performance 
  • The body as subject and/or medium in performance art and body art
  • The bias of ableism in art historical discourse 
  • The in/visibility of disability
  • The Disability Arts and Culture Movement

Current and recent graduate students in art history and related disciplines are invited to submit a 350-word abstract and a CV to clevelandsymposium@gmail.com by Friday, June 26, 2020. Selected participants will be notified by the end of July. Paper presentations will be 20 minutes in length and should be accompanied by a PowerPoint presentation. Three papers will be awarded prizes.

Please note: Planning for this year’s symposium is already underway, but given the current situation with the COVID-19 pandemic, we understand that plans may need to be amended. Alternative arrangements are being made to transition to an online platform should an in-person symposium be infeasible. 

Please direct all questions to Katie DiDomenico and Mackenzie Clark at clevelandsymposium@gmail.com. Follow us on Facebook & Instagram.