Call for Proposals: Disability/Culture: New Grounds. A Practice-Based Research Symposium. February 3rd to 6th 2015

27 June, 2014

UMInDS presents:

Disability/Culture: New Grounds. A Practice-Based Research Symposium.

February 3rd to 6th 2015

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Deadline for applications: August 1st 2014, notification: September 15th 2014.

In our seventh practice-based research symposium at the University of Michigan, and as the Initiative on Disability Studies’ Spring Conference, we’ll investigate cultural practices around cognitive, emotional, sensory, and embodied differences that trouble an assumption of similarity of time, space, and communication practice.

From crip time to neurodiversity, from pain space to Deaf gain, from access intimacy to decolonial crip methods, what are new(er) ways of thinking about disability and the arts (of living)? How can we think about the ethics of reciprocity, about new ways of being audience, being performer, being in shared (academic/art/life) space? How can art/life practices trouble older ways of thinking about artistic and academic disciplinarities?

We invite up to five fellows (grad students, faculty, artists) to come together for four days, to workshop, use performances and presentations as provocations, and explore methods of merging art practice, conviviality, and critical encounter. The specific topics we will explore are open, and will be determined by applicants’ interests. We will be in research practice together: this is not a conference to share the results of previous research or practice. Thus, we are not looking for papers, we are looking for participants in this experiment. Come and share the excitement of your creative and/or critical research, present a workshop based on your inquiry, and find out what happens. The experiment lies in finding a path toward accessible artful community together.

Before the symposium, a small collection of material from all participants will be made available to prepare us for our time together. During the symposium, each fellow will have (up to) two hours to engage others in a seminar. We will be in residence at the Duderstadt Video Performance Studio on the University of Michigan's North Campus, home to multiple performance technologies, with innovative tech wizards at the ready.
Each invitee will have transport and accommodation costs reimbursed up to $500 dollars. The conference hotel offers rooms for about sixty dollars a night, and we will assist people who want to be hosted by graduate students and locals.

Application Process: please email us a short CV, a sample of your work, and a brief statement about why you would like to participate. Direct all materials to the symposium director, Petra Kuppers,
Deadline for applications: August 1st 2014, notification: September 15th 2014.

Conference Organizing Team:

Bree Hadley, Queensland University of Technology, President of the Australasian Association for Theatre, Drama and Performance Studies

Beth Currans, Women's and Gender Studies, Eastern Michigan University

Ai Binh Ho, Crystal Lin Yie, Shannon Walton, Jina Kim, Katherine Kidd, Dawn Kaczmar, graduate students, University of Michigan

Director: Petra Kuppers, Performance Studies, University of Michigan


Organizer Bios:


Bree Hadley is Senior Lecturer in Performance Studies and Study Area Advisor for the Master of Creative Industries (Creative Production & Arts Management) at Queensland University of Technology, Australia,. She is the author of Disability, Public Space Performance and Spectatorship: Unconscious Performers (Palgrave, 2014). Her research investigates contemporary, pop cultural and public space performance practices, and she has a particular interest in practices that position spectators, bystanders and passersby as co-performers. This includes an interest in the challenges cultural, corporeal and cognitive differences create in the flow of the communicative encounter.


Beth Currans is an Assistant Professor of Women's and Gender Studies at Eastern Michigan University.  Her primary research explores how people, especially social outsiders, claim and remake public spaces through public demonstration.  She's also interested in cities as historically sedimented sites for public performances, performance as a mode of activist intervention, and the use of photography in public demonstrations.

Ai Binh Ho is a graduate student in the English Language & Literature department at the University of Michigan. Her interests include contemporary U.S. ethnic literature, critical refugee studies, visual culture, and disability aesthetics. 

Crystal Yin Lie is a graduate student in the English Language & Literature department at the University of Michigan. Her research currently focuses on late 19th-century literature, contemporary illness narratives, and visual culture. She is especially interested in photography and "performalist" self-portraits of disability.

Shannon Walton is a graduate student in English and Women's Studies at the University of Michigan. Her research explores the tensions and collaborations that exist within the intersecting relationships that occur between various forms of scholarship, activism, interest, and identity. Her most recent work is interested in the different roles that identity and activism play within the fields of disability studies and animal studies.

Katherine Kidd is a graduate student in Women's Studies and English at the University of Michigan. Her research focuses on contemporary experimental literature and digital media. Her current work explores the negotiation of space and subjectivities through play – including the presence of disability in online gaming environments.


Anthony Alterio is a professional dancer who stylizes in a studio Hip Hop/Jazz dance fusion. Studying Psychology and Dance as an undergrad, he mixed Queer Theory, Pop Culture, and Deaf Culture into his choreographic work. He is an incoming MFA in Dance at the University of Michigan.


Jina Kim is a PhD candidate in English and Women's Studies at the University of Michigan, whose research interests in part engage the intersections between disabled embodiment, contemporary U.S. urban space, and new materialist thought. Specifically, she examines how recent experimental modes of interacting with or imagining cityspace--either through performance, literature, or public installation--probe the ontological limits of urban inhabitation, positing the city and its infrastructures as a radical prosthetic extension of the self, rather than as separate and discrete space.


Petra Kuppers is a disability culture activist, a community performance artist, and a Professor of English, Women’s Studies, Theatre, and Art and Design at UM. She has a particular interest in the ways that disability performance complicates public space, and can shift political debates through surrealist and poetic practice. Her most recent publication is Studying Disability Arts and Culture: An Introduction, forthcoming with Palgrave in September 2014.



Video created at the last Disability/Culture practice-based research symposium:

The 2015 symposium might look very different – but we hope to curate an experience that allows for a similar merging of art, life, academia and experience. 

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