2022 “The Disability Gaze: Material and Visual Approaches”

University of Delaware, April 29-30, 2022

The Center for Material Culture Studies (CMCS) at the University of Delaware is pleased to announce its third biennial conference, “The Disability Gaze: Material and Visual Approaches.” The symposium will be a hybrid event held virtually and in-person at UD’s STAR campus.

Confirmed keynote speaker is Riva Lehrer, artist, writer, and curator who powerfully addresses the socially-challenged body across her works from painted portraits to her award-winning memoir Golem Girl.

“The body of the artist leaks into the body of the subject.”
— Riva Lehrer, Golem Girl (2020)

How does being disabled change the ways people view the world and the things they create? What generative possibilities does disability provoke? Valuable scholarship has explored disabled people as objects of vision and charted the phenomenon of staring which historically cast them as “curiosities,” “freaks,” and as “other.” “The Disability Gaze” will address the opposite phenomenon, considering disabled people as subjects and the power of their gazes as they claim and assert their own performance, identity, and even citizenship. Such assertions happen across representational forms, and this conference asks how physical and mental conditions inform the work of artists, designers, authors, performers, and prosthetic users. In what ways have disabled people shaped representations of themselves in images, objects/artifacts, and literature? What kinds of subjecthood have been produced at the intersections of disability and materiality? How have artists incorporated assistive devices or prostheses in their framing of self? We ask participants to consider how the disability gaze creates objects of visual and material culture and in doing so asserts disabled people’s subjectivity. This conference seeks, through an interdisciplinary and material culture approach, to reclaim the disability gaze as it extends into lived experience.

Visit the conference website to view the full program and register: