Disability Representation in Contemporary Media

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
Michael Willson/Georgetown University
contact email: 

I will be chairing a panel on Disability Representation in Contemporary Media at the Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA) Convention in Philadelphia from March 11-14. I am currently accepting paper submissions.

In recent years, inclusion and representation of various minority groups in the media have become prevalent. Cinema and television have come to offer some of the most diverse character portrayals within this media universe. Accordingly, it is now common to find characters of diverse racial backgrounds, nationalities, and sexual orientations. One of the last frontiers of such minority representation has been the disability community. Television programs such as Atypical (2017-Present) and The Good Doctor (2017-Present) both have a protagonist with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Similarly, Ali Stroker became the first actress in a wheelchair to win a Tony Award in 2019. (And even retail stores now have catalogs that feature models with visible disabilities.)

In response to the recent innovations in this rapidly developing perspective, a session on “Disability Representation in Contemporary Media” could create an enlightening discussion at the 2021 NeMLA Conference. This session accordingly calls for papers written on all aspects of disability representation in recent media. Such disabilities include, but are not limited to, intellectual (e.g. Down Syndrome, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Fragile X Syndrome), psychiatric (e.g. Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, Depression and Anxiety), neurological (e.g. Autism Spectrum Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Cerebral Palsy), physical, visual, and hearing. Forms of media include, but are not limited to, cinema, television, journalism (print, radio, or television), advertisements (print, radio, or television), any form of web media (streaming, social media, podcasts, etc.), and music.

Please upload an abstract of no more than 250 words to the submission portal by September 30. Please note, you will need to create a NeMLA account in order to upload an abstract.