CFP: Anthology on Sex and Disability (7/1/05; collection)

full name / name of organization: 
Anna Mollow
contact email: 

Call For Abstracts: Anthology on Sex and Disability


           Disability and sex come together in multiple ways. In the
popular imagination, however, the terms "sex" and "disability" are, if not
antithetical, then certainly incongruous. To many, the idea of people with
disabilities as sexual or sexy remains largely unthinkable. We are
soliciting proposals for a cultural studies anthology of essays that will
challenge such conceptions, examining, revising, and extending the myriad
ways that disability and sex intersect.


            We seek submissions that build on existing scholarship on sex
and disability but take this work in new directions, attending to the
sexiness of sex; to the specificity of disabled bodily enactments,
sensations, and experiences; and to the relation between disabled sex and
social, cultural, and representational structures. While disability
scholars in the social sciences have made important initial steps in
formulating conceptual models of sexual access for people with disabilities,
complementary work in the humanities or across disciplinary boundaries
remains largely undone. In the social sciences and in activist communities,
discussions about sex and disability have focused primarily upon local,
practical issues: for example, controversies about "sex surrogates,"

arguments about the meaning of "consent" for people with severe cognitive
disabilities, and analyses of strategies disabled people have used to access
sexual experience. In the humanities, in contrast, conversations about sex
and disability have emphasized the formation of positive disabled

identities: critiques of negative or stereotypical representations of
disabled people's sexuality and analyses of disabled writers' and artists'

responses to these representations have predominated. As such, this latter
body of work has arguably been more concerned with "sexuality" than with
"sex." We envision an interdisciplinary collection of essays that extends
all of this work, that talks about sex, theorizing it as an embodied
phenomenon and engaging in critical analysis of its social and cultural


            This analysis, we hope, will challenge, redefine, and rework
constructions of either "sex" or "disability" as stable categories. The
apparent stability of either of these categories has historically been
linked to their containment within private or personal spheres. By forcing
a recognition of disability as a political process rather than a private
problem, the disability rights movement has achieved significant success in
securing disabled people's access to public spaces. But if wheelchair ramps
and ASL interpretation are increasingly coming to be understood as
appropriate public accommodations, the conjunction of sex and disability
continues to be seen as an improper or unseemly private matter. We
therefore seek essays that analyze enactments of "sex" in multiple locations
and thus undo the public-private distinction as it pertains to both sex and
disability. Moreover, we are interested in work that conceives of
disability not as a discrete and stable identity category, but rather as a
shifting and contingent set of bodily practices and experiences, which
always come into being within a broader political context. In particular,
we seek writing that investigates the ways in which the politics of race,
class, gender, and sexual orientation shape both enactments and
representations of sex and disability.


Possible topics include:


*Historical constructions of disabled people's sexuality;

*Eugenics and the sterilization of disabled people;

*Analyses of sex and disability in literature and culture;

*Queer theory, feminist theory, critical race theory, psychoanalytic and
other theoretical approaches to sex and disability;

*Amputee devoteeism and other forms of disability fetishism;

*Transgender and intersex identities;

*Obscenity controversies; sex and disability in pornography, erotica, and
performance art;

*Disability and cybersex or online personals;

*Impotence, erectile dysfunction, and "frigidity" as disabilities;

*"Sex addiction" as medical and social category;

*Legal cases regarding disabled people's rights to access sex;

*Sexual surrogates;

*Disability as a barrier to, or enhancement of, sexual experience;

*Sex in institutions, nursing homes, and group homes;

*Attendants, privacy, isolation, and the use of assistive technology to
access sex;

*Sex and mental illness;

*The sexuality of cognitively disabled people;

*Deaf studies and blind studies perspectives on sex;

*Chronic illness and sex.


Abstracts of 250-500 words by July 1, 2005 to Anna Mollow

( and Robert McRuer (; preferred format
is Microsoft Word attachment.

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Received on Mon Apr 11 2005 - 21:22:12 EDT