Northern Renaissance Seminar: ‘Disability and the Renaissance’

Leeds Trinity University College, 8 September 2012

Proposals for 20-minute papers are invited on the ways in which disability can be conceptualised in/through/by the Renaissance. This seminar is particularly intended to register some of the ways that recent developments in disability theory might be applicable to scholarship on Renaissance literature and culture; to the modern tradition of Renaissance scholarship; or, indeed, might struggle to gain purchase upon the types of material and textual resources available to scholars. To that end, papers which focus on the experience or conceptualisation of disability itself, rather than disability as allegory/metaphor for the human condition in general, will be preferred.

We recognise that this is not an established field within Renaissance studies and we therefore welcome exploratory and open-ended engagements and investigations. Topics may include, but are certainly not restricted to:

  • The visibility and invisibility of disability: embodiment, Bedlam beggars, Bedlam and other sites/institutions, taxonomic practices, non-standard bodies, normativity.
  • Resistance, conformity, subversion, transgression.
  • The mind and mental disability.
  • Representations: staging, portraying, discussing disability.
  • Models of disability – how do the social and medical models bear on the Renaissance? Does the Renaissance offer further ways of modelling disability?
  • Identity, difference, abjection.
  • Technologies, adaptation, support.
  • The impact of earlier traditions: e.g. Classical formulations of disability; folklore.
  • Intersections: childhood; gender; ethnicity; class
  • Medical, legal, moral, theological and spiritual understandings/engagements.

We invite proposals (250 words) for papers addressing these questions. Comparative, interdisciplinary, and performance-oriented approaches are welcome, as are submissions from postgraduate students and early career researchers. Please send your proposals or any queries to Susan Anderson:

Deadline for proposals: 30th June 2012