Upcoming Events

2024 Early Modern Center Conference, “Body Matters! Disability in English Literature to 1800”

Friday, March 1st and Saturday, March 2nd, 2024

This interdisciplinary conference brings together scholars studying a variety “body matters,” including representations of disability or ability in premodern literature, the continuum of embodiment explored by premodern authors, and the relation of literary bodies to the political and social realm. Papers will address medieval, early modern, and eighteenth-century literary and cultural texts, and investigate how disabled embodiments speak to each other across time, genre, and form. Topics under consideration include:

• disability vs. (dis)ability
• forms: literary and disability
• historical and contemporary performances of disability
• prosthesis and technologies of embodiment
• the materiality of disability
• medical and humoral theory
• disability, natural philosophy, and ecocriticism
• ethics of care and caring for premodern bodies
• neurodiversity, neurodivergence, and neurotypicality
• intersections of race, critical race theory, and disability
• intersections of coloniality, postcolonial theory, and disability
• intersections of gender, feminist theory, and disability
• intersections of sexuality, queer theory, and disability

We are will also feature keynotes from Dr. Rachael King (UCSB), Dr. Bradley Irish (Arizona State University), and poet Jos Charles.

To register for in-person attendance, please RSVP here.

To register for virtual attendance, please write to Shaun Nowicki at emcfellow@gmail.com.


Friday, March 1st (McCune Room, HSSB 6020)

8:00am-9:10am Registration/Pastries 

9:10am-9:20am Opening Remarks

9:20am-10:40am Keynote, Dr. Bradley Irish (ASU), “Early Modern Neurodiversity Studies: A Preliminary Research Agenda,” introduction James Kearney

Twenty Minute Break

11:00am-12:20pm Panel, Defining Disability in Major Works (Moderator: Somak Mukherjee)

Henry Coburn, Recognition and Sophocles’ Foot Fetish”

Avanika Gupta, “The Satirical Body: Exploring Disability, Imperfections, and Societal Expectations in Alexander Pope’s 18th-Century Works”

12:20pm-1:40pm Lunch 

1:40pm-3:00pm Panel, Disability and Theories of Mind (Moderator: Jessica Zisa)

Olivia Henderson, ““The Follies dance, which were twelve she-fools”: Neurodiversity and Masque Performance of Intelligence in Ben Jonson’s Love Freed from Ignorance and Folly

Avi Mendelson, “(De)racializing Epileptic Madness in Othello

Timothy Welch, ““I cried to dream again”: A Schizoanalysis of Caliban”

Twenty Minute Break

3:20pm-4:40pm Panel, Disability and Performance Studies (Moderator: Grace Kimball)

Olivia Bievenue, “‘Thou talks of things thou knowest not what;: Caring for Isabella in The Spanish Tragedy

Melinda Marks, “That’s my Humour: Early Modern Performance, Rhetorics, and Autistic Theater-Making”

6:00pm-10:00pm Dinner (Mosher Alumni Hall)

Saturday, March 2nd (McCune Room, HSSB 6020)

9:00am-10:20am Keynote, Dr. Rachael King (UCSB), “Care Networks in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Archives,” introduction E. Heckendorn Cook

Twenty Minute Break

10:40am-12:00pm Panel, Medieval Disability Across Genre (Moderator: Gil Vitro)

Debashrita Dey, “The ‘Senile Hag’: Representations of Disability with Ageing and the Embodied ‘Other’ in Middle English Fabliaux”

Taylor Thompson, “On Losing Sight & Becoming Unseen: 15th Century Perspectives on Vision Impairment and Blindness”

Jonathan Wilcox, “Disability as Image and Reality in Early Medieval England: Ælfric and Blindness”

12:00pm-1:20pm Lunch

1:20pm-2:20pm Panel, Disability, Queer Theory and Trans Studies (Respondent: Daniel Reeve)

Alice Fulmer, “”for suspicion / Of mennes speche evere” Animating Transmisogyny, Dysphoria, and Disability in the Canon’s Yeoman’s Prologue

Shaun Nowicki, “‘The Good Fellowship of Dust’: Deathly Bodies and Queer Resonance in George Herbert’s The Temple

Twenty Minute Break

2:40pm-3:40pm Panel, Moral/Medical Theory and Maternity (Respondent: Andrew Griffin)

Madison Connaughton, “Of Her Seed: The Responsibility and Disabling of Moral Theory and Embryology in Pregnancy”

Joyce King, “To Latch and Latch Not: Eating Speech in Sir Gowther”

Twenty Minute Break

4:00pm-5:20pm Keynote, Jos Charles, “Wylde Infirmitee: Readings from Vita Nova,” introduction Alice Fulmer

5:20pm-5:30pm Closing Remarks