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International Conference on Disability as Spectacle

UCLA Meyer and Renee Luskin Conference Center
Los Angeles, California

UCLA’s Disability Studies program announces a two-day conference on Disability as Spectacle (13-14 April 2017).  Disability’s representation in current popular culture, academic discourse, and political rhetoric raises important questions about how disability is depicted and which disabilities are excluded or rendered invisible in this new cultural landscape.  How does our current moment’s heightened awareness of disability produce benefits and/or disadvantages in other social, political, or economic spheres? The conference theme encourages scholars, practitioners, artists, and activists to think critically about disability’s representations and invites them to share ideas about the future of disability rights and Disability Studies as this historically marginalized community continues to make advances in mainstream culture.

This conference aims to stimulate a discussion around how society constructs, reacts, and embraces or rejects visible and invisible disabilities in the public sphere.  As representations change in popular and political culture, scholars, practitioners, artists, and activists will need to confront a changing milieu in which (some) disabilities are de-stigmatized while others are prevented from participation.

The film and television industry’s role in disability’s changing status makes Los Angeles an ideal location to reflect upon disability as spectacle.

The conference may cover such important topics as:

  •     Intersection of disability and new media
  •     Visible versus invisible disability in TV, film, print media, and sports
  •     Disability narrative as literary genre
  •     Critique of the contemporary ‘freak show’
  •     Inclusive/exclusive forms of public art
  •     Role of technology in facilitating visibility and invisibility
  •     Theorizing new forms of ‘seeing’ disability
  •     The spectacle of the ‘super crip’
  •     Examining dynamics of ‘the gaze’ when disability meets dance and performance art

Students, community members, activists, artists, practitioners, advocates, and allies – local, national, international – are encouraged to participate in the conference. Forms of submission include: individual papers, preconstituted panels, workshops, working groups, and performances. We strongly encourage panels that bring together various perspectives and experiences, such as panels featuring practitioners in dialogue with scholars, artist practitioners, and activists.

The registration fees for the conference are $40.00 (USD) for faculty; $25.00 (USD) for students and community members. For additional information, please see the conference website:

Earlier Event: April 10
Community Dance Jam