Call for Papers: “Perceiving Disability” Panel Series 

German Studies Association Conference; 1-4 October, 2020; Washington, D.C. (Crystal City)

Deadline: February 3, 2020

To a large extent, the cultural construct referred to as “disability” depends on perception, both of a myriad of objects and from a myriad of perspectives. People with disabilities, people who are temporarily able-bodied, people seeking simply to understand the human bodymind – all of these groups participate in what Tobin Siebers (Disability Theory, 2009) has termed the “disability masquerade” in an effort to represent the variety of embodied human experience both to themselves and to others. 

This interdisciplinary panel series will investigate how perception has mediated disability in a variety of contexts, including the arts, medicine, natural sciences, politics, architecture, the legal system, and the academy. Here we also seek opportunities for disciplinary self-reflection, given that theoretical traditions important to the humanities such as aesthetics still typically center the normate. For the purposes of this panel, “disability” is broadly understood to refer to physical, sensory, and/or cognitive variations that are, in the words of Petra Kuppers (“Performance,” 2015), “different enough to be remarkable” in mainstream culture. Following Nirmala Erevelles and Andrea Minnear (“Unspeakable Offenses,” 2010), the organizers are also interested in moments when other aspects of identity, e.g., race, gender, age, and class, come to be perceived as disabilities.

Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

-aesthetic experience and the non-normate body

-representations of sensory, corporeal, or cognitive experiences associated with disability

-scientific/statistical definitions and/or representations of human ability

-histories of media accessibility and exclusion

-disability in theories of aesthetics/media/communication/literacy/spectatorship

-sensory disability and the built environment

-perceptions of disability studies within German studies


February 3: Abstracts (250-300 words), short bios, and moderator/commentator availability* sent to Paul Dobryden ([log in to unmask]) and Caroline Weist ([log in to unmask])

February 10-12: notifications from organizers

No later than February 14: all participants must be active members of the GSA

*In order to encourage discussion among participants and between panels, we will attempt to fill moderator and commentator roles with presenters from other panels. If you are already committed to a role on a separate panel, please indicate that in your e-mail. We also welcome inquiries from those interested solely in moderating and/or commentating.


******************* The German Studies Call for Papers List Editor: Sean Franzel Assistant Editor: Olaf Schmidt Sponsored by the University of Missouri Info available at: