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Literary, Cultural, and Disability Studies: A Tripartite Approach to Postcolonialism

Date: 1 June 2009 Time: 10.00-15.30 pm

SEMINAR INVITATION: This is the first seminar in the series Literary, Cultural, & Disability Studies: A Tripartite Approach to Criticism & Theory, funded by the Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences and the Centre for Disability Research, chaired by Professor Carol Thomas, and organised by Hannah Morgan and Dr. David Bolt at Lancaster University.

DATE: Monday 1 June 2009.

PLACE: Institute for Advanced Studies (IAS) - building 17 on the campus map>

GUEST SPEAKERS:Dr. Clare Barker andDr. Stuart Murray (University of Leeds).

PAPER PRESENTATION: If you would like to present a paper about disability and postcolonialism, please send a proposal (250 words max) by email on or before 1 March 2009 to Dr. Bolt (>

REGISTRATION: To register for the seminar, please contact Dr. Bolt ( by 1 April 2009. Lancaster attendees will be given priority.

PURPOSE: The reading lists of literary and cultural studies departments throughout the world are abundant with primary texts that represent disability in one way or another. Yet few of these departments approach the primary texts from a perspective that is informed by disability studies. Unlike the conceptually comparable constructs of ethnicity, gender, class, and sexuality, those of disability are generally deemed beyond the scope of literary and cultural studies.

The seminar will contribute to the discourse around the modernisation of this taxonomy by demonstrating the value of literary and cultural criticism and theory that are informed by the discipline of disability studies.

In a recent CFP for a forthcoming special issue of Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies - namely, Disabling Postcolonialism - the guest editors Dr. Barker and Dr. Murray asserted that from the "hysteria of Conrad's Congo to the 'creative schizophrenia' of Michael Gilkes' Caribbean, and from the severance of India's national 'body' at Partition to the fatal brokenness of 'dying' indigenous communities, cultural and literary representations insistently figure postcolonial spaces and moments in terms of disablement, lack and a difference produced by a conception of absence." Yet this state of affairs is largely unrecognised in postcolonial theory and criticism.

The seminar will take inspiration from Dr. Barker and Dr. Murray's approach to this puzzle by interrogating the "critical interface between disability and postcolonial studies," the contention being that disability "potentially stresses the material and located nature of postcolonial cultures and emphasises the embodied nature of agency and community." In keeping with the aims of the series, we will explore the relevance and value of disability studies to the discipline of postcolonial studies and vice versa.


Who can attend: Anyone


Further information

Associated staff: David Bolt, Hannah Morgan, Carol Thomas

Organising departments and research centres: Applied Social Science, Centre for Disability Research CeDR, Division of Health Research


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