CFP: Disability and Science Fiction (3/15/06; MLA '06)

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CFP: Science Fiction and Disability (3/15/06; MLA '06)
For many years, the archetypal image of disability in
science fiction was Robert Heinlein's Waldo, the
embittered, reclusive, socially inept genius who, in
the eponymous story, overcomes myasthenia gravis when
an old sage reveals to him that he can cure himself
through willpower: "Gramps Schneider had told him he
need not be weak! That he could be strong – Strong!
STRONG! He had never thought of it." Since Heinlein's
1942 paean to voluntarist triumph over personal
adversity, disability and dysmorphism have had a
complex history in science fiction. From the gentle
freaks of William Tenn and Theodore Sturgeon to the
mentally disabled saints of Phillip K. Dick to the
crippled superheroes of Grant Morrison and Octavia E.
Butler, science fiction has alternately interrogated,
celebrated, and stigmatized disability in its
characters, as early as Sturgeon's 1953 "The Clinic",
a story inspired by Sturgeon's observations of Deaf
culture, SF has addressed the contingent and
socially-inflected nature of disability and
impairment. With the cyberpunk versus humanist
conflicts of the Eighties, new questions of
transcendence and voluntarism arose: what does the
dream of cybernetic disembodiment offer, or deny, to
people with disabilities? Is cyberspace a liberatory
ideal or a pernicious denial of the corporeal realm?
In addition to the authors named above, authors of
interest may include, but need not be limited to: John
Varley, Suzy McKee Charnas, Nancy Jane Moore, Maureen
McHugh, Joanna Russ, John Shirley, Bruce Sterling,
C.L. Moore, Kit, Reed, Pat Cadigan, Stephen R.
Donaldson, Joel Rosenberg and Piers Anthony.

Abstracts of 7-9 page papers (20 minutes reading
length) to Ann Keefer ( by 15
March. This session is sponsored by the Disability
Studies Division of the Modern Language Association.

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Received on Tue Jan 10 2006 - 09:34:39 EST