Speech Disorders in Literature, Film, and Popular Culture [Deadline for Abstracts: May 1st 2011]

full name / name of organization: 
Chris Eagle / University of Western Sydney
contact email: 

I am soliciting previously unpublished articles or essays for an edited collection on the topic of representations of speech and language disorders in literature, film, and popular culture. At present, there is a growing interest in the field of Medical Humanities regarding the portrayal of conditions like stuttering, aphasia, mutism, etc. Recent works like The King's Speech, Rocket Science, and Diving Bell and the Butterfly also speak to the growing concern in contemporary popular culture over the status of the Self in relation to language loss and language breakdown. Since speech pathologies are neither illnesses nor outwardly visible disabilties, critical studies of their representation have tended to occupy a liminal position in relation to other discourses in fields like literary theory, medical humanities, disability studies, etc. One of the primary aims of this collection is to address that marginalization, to position a cultural criticism of speech pathology as a subfield in its own right, by combining previous criticism with original work in order to bring this subject into greater prominence.

The working title of the collection is Talking Normal: Speech Disorders in Literature, Film, and Culture. The goal of this collection is to approach the issue of disordered or 'non-standard' speech from as many critical lenses as possible. So cultural studies, historicist, theoretical, sociolinguistic, formalist approaches etc. are all equally welcome.

Possible topics might include but are not limited to:

- Representations of speech and language disorders such as stuttering, lisping, mutism, aphasia etc., in literature or film
- Cultural studies of depictions of speech disorders in popular culture (e.g. in Looney Tunes)
- Studies of classical and renaissance notions of speech disorders or language loss
- Theatrical stagings of language loss (e.g. in the plays of Jean Claude van Itallie, Arthur Kopit, Susan Yankowitz, et al.)
- Language loss and/or stammering related to war trauma (e.g. in Pat Barker's Regeneration trilogy)
- Sociolinguistic studies of linguistic prestige and linguistic inequality in relation to speech pathology
- Associations between 'non-standard' dialects and 'defective' forms of speech like stuttering (e.g. in the works of Zora Neale Hurston)
- Clinical studies of changing attitudes and practices in the history of speech therapy
- Formalist studies of writing that consciously models itself on disordered speech (e.g. in the works of Gertrude Stein, Lewis Carroll, Dadaist sound poets, et al.)
- Biographical studies of authors who stutter (e.g. Henry James, Lewis Carroll) and how their speech disorder impacts on their writings

Authors should submit an abstract of 300 - 600 words, along with a CV providing full contact information, by May 1st 2011. Abstracts should be submitted electronically (in .doc format) to: c.eagle@uws.edu.au. Please put "ANTHOLOGY" in the subject line. Submitted abstracts must be for previously unpublished work that is not being considered for publication elsewhere.