Edited Collection--On the DL: Athletes, Athletics, and Disability, July 31, 2016

full name / name of organization: 
Joseph P. Fisher
contact email: 

Popular rhetoric about athletics consistently emphasizes corporeal mastery and bodily perfection. Always exhibiting physical and mental toughness, athletes train ceaselessly to reach the pinnacle of sporting accomplishment: taking things to the next level. In fact, there is a good argument to be made that athletic excellence requires superhuman skill, for it is only when athletes devote 110% of themselves to their sports that victory can be achieved.

Yet, despite their apparent otherworldly physical strength and endurance, athletes constantly inhabit positions of disability. Whether experiencing performance interruptions due to "overuse" injuries or bearing the brunt of permanently disabling violence—concussions, spinal cord damage, any number of musculoskeletal traumas—athletes are defined by disability just as much as they are defined against it.

On the DL: Athletes, Athletics, and Disability is the title of a proposed essay collection that will read competitive athletics through a disability studies lens. Given the myriad definitions of "sport" across the globe, On the DL is interested in compiling a wide variety of theoretically-engaged analyses of sporting culture. In addition to traditional academic approaches to this topic, On the DL invites submissions that take the form of memoir/autobiography, photojournalism, or any other innovative non-traditional format. Again, however, all submissions must articulate rigorous, clearly defined theoretical angles on their subjects.

Furthermore, On the DL is explicitly seeking discussions of disability and mourning. In an attempt to push disability studies to address questions about unwanted disability—say, when a fulfilling athletic career ends due to a sudden disabling condition—this collection is particularly enthusiastic about essays which contend, in any number of ways, that athletes need space to lament bodily dysfunction.

Possible topics include but are not limited to:

concussions/head trauma/traumatic brain injuries
disability benefits for professional athletes
injury—permanent and temporary
youth sports and concerns about childhood injuries
sport as sanctioned violence—hockey, American football, wrestling, boxing
athletic prosthetics
The Special Olympics
Oscar Pistorius
Caster Semenya
gender trouble: the shrinking performance gap between male and female athletes
The Paralympic Games
"Race for the Cure" and other charity athletic events
racially-charged rhetoric about disability/injury and professional athletes ("loafing" e.g. Derrick Rose, Grant Hill, Pablo Sandoval, etc.)
body size and athletics: "fat" baseball pitchers and football linemen
eating disorders and athletes
the dieting industry
the fitness industry
Fitbit and other fitness "training" devices
the rise of marathon running
Ironman Triathlons, Spartan races, Tough Mudder competitions
The Boston Marathon bombing
wheelchair athletics
access to physical therapy
Is physical therapy snake oil?
Western vs. Eastern approaches to health and injury treatment
participation in organized sports as part of a "normal" adolescence
college athletics
college athletics and unions
colleges profiting from—and capitalizing on—young athletes
organized sports as part of the education industry
"flopping"/performance of injury—soccer, basketball, etc.
anabolic steroids and human growth hormones as injury treatment/rehabilitation
doping, drugging, and "cheating"
Western appropriations of yoga
the rise of "wellness" and "mindfulness"
nutrition and athletics—"superfoods," supplements, and "anti-inflammatory" diets
employer incentives/benefits for employees who remain "fit"

Please send 750-1000 word proposals to Dr. Joseph P. Fisher at fishdog@gwu.edu. Also, please include a one-page CV with your proposal.
Proposal submissions due by July 31, 2016.