Health, Embodiment, and Visual Culture: Engaging Publics and Pedagogies (conference; proposals due Jan 15, 2010)

full name / name of organization: 
Sarah Brophy and Jancie Hladki, McMaster University
contact email: 

Conference: "Health, Embodiment, and Visual Culture: Engaging Publics and Pedagogies"

November 19-20, 2010
McMaster University
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Conference Co-Chairs:
Sarah Brophy, Associate Professor, Department of English and Cultural Studies, McMaster University
Janice Hladki, Associate Professor, School of the Arts, McMaster University


This interdisciplinary conference seeks to explore how visual cultural practices image and imagine unruly bodies and, in so doing, respond to Patricia Zimmermann's call for "radical media democracies that animate contentious public spheres" (2000, p. xx). Our aim is to explore how health, disability, and the body are theorized, materialized, and politicized in forms of visual culture including photography, video art, graphic memoir, film, body art and performance, and digital media. Accordingly, we invite proposals for individual papers and roundtables that consider how contemporary visual culture makes bodies political in ways that matter for the future of democracy. Proposals may draw on fields such as: visual culture, critical theory, disability studies, health studies, science studies, autobiography studies, indigenous studies, feminisms, queer studies, and globalization/transnationalism.

Confirmed Keynote Speakers:
*Rebecca Belmore,* internationally recognized Anishinabekwe artist, Vancouver (exhibitions of her performance, video, installation, and sculpture include: Venice Biennale, Sydney Biennale, Brooklyn Museum of Art, Art Gallery of Ontario, Museum of Contemporary Native Arts);
*Lisa Cartwright,* Professor of Communication and Science Studies and Affiliated Faculty in Gender Studies, Department of Communication, University of California, San Diego (/Screening the Body: Tracing Medicine's Visual Culture/; /Moral Spectatorship: Technologies of Voice and Affect in Postwar Representations of the Child/)
*Robert McRuer,* Professor and Deputy Chair, Department of English, George Washington University, Washington, DC (/Crip Theory: Cultural Signs of Queerness and Disability/; /The Queer Renaissance: Contemporary American Literature and the Reinvention of Lesbian and Gay Identities/);
*Ato Quayson,* Professor of English and Director of the Centre for Diaspora and Transnational Studies, University of Toronto (/Aesthetic Nervousness: Disability and the Crisis of Representation/; /Relocating Postcolonialism/).

The conference will also feature /Scrapes: Unruly Embodiments in Video Art,/ an exhibition curated by Sarah Brophy and Janice Hladki, at the McMaster Museum of Art.

1. Technologies
-- medical technologies (e.g. medical imaging, drug therapies, prosthetics and other devices) and their implications for embodiment, subjectivity, community, kinship, and politics
-- corporeality and the senses as sites/forms of knowledge-making
-- biopolitics and surveillance
-- the relationship between "old" and "new" technologies
-- how technologies mediate social spaces of embodiment and interaction
-- interrogations of the human and posthuman in medicine, science, and art

2. Cultural Production
-- cultural pedagogy; the production of knowledge in sites of cultural production (e.g. galleries, festivals, classrooms, online, etc.)
-- counter-publics (e.g. disability culture)
-- indigenous modes of cultural production
-- diasporic/transnational issues and practices
-- new representational modes (e.g. digital arts, graphic memoir)
-- documentary practices
-- "doing politics in art" (Bennett)

3. Disability
-- medical, scientific, and cultural discourses of disability
-- performing and witnessing embodied difference
-- interrogations of impairment
-- genetics, reproduction, eugenics
-- dis-ease and disorder
-- "ability trouble" (McRuer)
-- "radical crip images" (McRuer)

4. Affect
-- explorations of "ugly feelings" (Ngai), "aesthetic nervousness" (Quayson), "moral spectatorship" (Cartwright), "empathic vision" (Bennett), and "seeing for" (Bal)
-- relationships to medicalization, regulation, and surveillance
-- affect as generative/productive in relation to concepts of ethical spectatorship and witnessing
-- relationships between corporeality and theorizations of nature as dynamic and agentic (Barad, Grosz, Haraway)
-- can we/should we move beyond the theories that posit /negative/ affect as a prime site for ethics?
-- affect and global politics: representations of global mobilities, violence, war, terrorism

We kindly invite submissions from scholars, artists, health professionals, community members, and activists in all areas and disciplines.
Concurrent sessions will be 90 minutes in length. Proposals for the following formats will be considered:
1) Individual papers: 15 minutes in length
2) Roundtables: 4-5 participants, including a designated moderator and a plan for facilitated discussion of ideas
All submissions will be peer-reviewed.

Individual paper submissions should include:
1) affiliation and contact information
2) a biographical note of up to 200 words
3) paper title and a 300-500 word abstract; the description of the paper's content should be as specific as possible and indicate relevance to one or more of the conference thematics.
4) details of audiovisual needs (e.g. DVD, LCD projection, and/or VHS). Note that participants will need to bring their own laptops.

Roundtable submissions should include:
1) affiliation and contact information for each participant
2) a biographical note of up to 200 words for each participant
3) roundtable title and a 500 word proposal. The proposal should both indicate the relevance of the roundtable to one or more of the conference thematics and outline the organization of the proposed discussion.
4) details of audiovisual needs (e.g. DVD, LCD projection, and/or VHS). Note that participants will need to bring their own laptops.

All submissions should be sent via email attachment to by January 15, 2010. Please use the subject line "proposal for Health, Embodiment, and Visual Culture." Attachments should be in .doc or .rtf formats.

If electronic submission is not possible, please mail or fax proposals to arrive by January 15, 2010.
Address: Sarah Brophy & Janice Hladki: Health, Embodiment, and Visual Culture Conference
c/o Department of English & Cultural Studies
Chester New Hall 321
McMaster University
1280 Main Street West
Hamilton, Ontario, L8S 4L9
Fax: 905-777-8316

Presenters are encouraged to explore ways to make physical, sensory, and intellectual access a fundamental part of their presentation. Suggestions include: large print (18 point font) copies of handouts, large-print copies of paper or panel outlines, and/or audio descriptions of any film or video clips and images. Presenters are also encouraged to consider open or closed captioning of films and video clips.

Papers from the conference will be considered for a special issue of /The Review of Education, Pedagogy, and Cultural Studies/.

Sponsored by the Department of English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario (John Douglas Taylor Fund).