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Modernism and Disability Aesthetics

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Organizer: Rafael Hernandez

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Recent work in the field of disability studies by scholars like Ato Quayson (2007), Tobin Siebers (2010), Maren Linett (2016), and Suzannah Biernoff (2017) has considered modernism’s appropriation of disabled bodies. This seminar thus seeks to better understand the role of disability in modernist literary and visual aesthetics. In particular, we encourage papers that consider how writers and artists borrowed from, mimicked, or otherwise recast disability as uniquely modernist literary and artistic subjects. Secondly, this seminar is interested in the ways modernism was cast as disabled in varied attacks on its aesthetic projects. Modernism’s antagonists often designated writers’ and artists’ work as disabled, diseased, or disfigured in their aesthetic valuation of their work. How did fascist aesthetics, for instance, privilege able-bodied subjects and construct aesthetic judgments about both modernism and disabled bodies? Finally, the seminar aims to consider disability aesthetics as they come into close contact and overlap with other aestheticized subject positions. How does modernism’s representation of disability intersect with those of race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality, etc.?

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