Special Section: Disability Performance and Global Shakespeare

deadline for submissions: 
May 15, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
The Shakespearean International Yearbook
contact email: 

Disability Performance and Global Shakespeare

Shakespearean International Yearbook (ed. Alexa Alice Joubin and Natalia Khomenko)

Special Section edited by Katherine Schaap Williams 

This special section of The Shakespearean International Yearbook draws on critical disability studies to consider the intersection of disability performance and global Shakespeare. Work in early modern disability studies over the past decade has demonstrated how productively disability theory can be brought to bear on early modern texts, and how examples from an earlier historical period can complicate and amplify approaches in contemporary disability studies. Yet because Shakespeare’s Richard III was so central to foundational formulations in disability theory, work on disability often remains within the frame of early modern England. Meanwhile, a vibrant body of scholarship on global Shakespeare has elaborated histories of performance, adaptation, and appropriation, but this work rarely centers disability as a category of analysis. However, as Elizabeth B. Bearden’s pathbreaking work on disability in the global Renaissance has shown, early modern literary forms beyond England may “crip” or challenge “ableist concepts of timeliness, productivity, and mobility” (Monstrous Kinds, 27). This special issue considers how concepts of disability might illuminate contemporary productions of Shakespeare’s plays beyond western contexts—and how such performances and films might, in turn, expand and refine our critical vocabulary for theorizing disability.  

Papers might address questions such as:

  • How are truisms about the universalism of Shakespeare’s plays challenged by and negotiated through cultural frameworks of disability?
  • What new insights into disability aesthetics emerge from cinematic and theatrical traditions and performance histories beyond British and North American settings?
  • What fantasies of ability or cultural norms underwrite investments in Shakespeare as a global commodity?
  • How does disability—intersecting with race, gender, and sexuality—reframe our understanding of Shakespeare’s plays beyond western performance traditions?
  • Which Shakespearean plays emerge as targets for analysis that attends to the production of disability under global capitalism?

Inviting experimental forms of scholarship, the issue will feature papers that may take the following forms:

1)    A performance entry (ca. 1500 words) that annotates and analyzes a production or film through the lens of disability theory.

2)    A short position paper (ca. 3000 words) that offers a case study that illuminates the theoretical, critical, or methodological intersections of these fields.

3)    A full-length essay (ca. 6000 words) that expands our scholarly vocabulary for early modern disability studies and global Shakespeare, focusing on one or more key texts.


Please send 250-word abstracts (specifying intended format and focus) and 100-word bios to: ks.williams@utoronto.ca by May 15, 2022. Contributors will be invited to engage a few readings from disability theory as our common texts; we will gather for (optional) virtual collaborative working sessions in Summer 2022. Papers will be due on December 15, 2022.