Thursday, November 1, 2012

CFP: Fantastic! Heroic! Disabled? 'Cripping' the Comic Con will be April 2013 at Syracuse University

Call for Proposals

Michael Bérubé tells us that “every representation of disability has the potential to shape the way ‘disability’ is understood in general culture, and some of those representations can in fact do extraordinary powerful—or harmful—cultural and political work” (1997, p. B4).

This symposium will provide participants with the opportunity to engage in a broad array of reflective discussions about the representations of disability that exist “beneath the surface” and explicitly within mainstream popular cultures both nationally and internationally, particularly the popular culture phenomena that are comic books, graphic novels, and manga.

Submissions incorporating genres that do not typically receive sustained attention in mainstream scholarly spaces are encouraged. These include but are not limited to the following:

  • comix, anime, motion comics
  • films, movies, videos, television shows (including reality TV, animated TV)
  • advertising, newspapers, magazines
  • comic cons, dragon cons, geek cons, movie cons, cosplay, cult fandom, the “geek syndrome”
  • visual arts, painting, photography, deviantART, alternative and alternate art forms
  • poetry, expressive arts, popular fiction, imagetext, fanfic, slash, alternative and alternate forms of literacies
  • material culture, multimedia, social media, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube
  • websites, blogs, memes, zines
  • games, gaming, toys, action figures

This event is meant not only to meet unmet needs in scholarly spaces and beyond but also to address these vital areas/concerns:

  1. Popular culture studies and literature do not pay consistent or adequate attention to disability; when this attention is paid, it is often via “special issues” of journals, etc.
  2. Further, “Popular culture is…the discursive terrain on which larger social issues are played out, often unobtrusively and masked as entertainment–and this is precisely why pop culture needs to be examined even more closely...” (Nayar, 2011, p. 172).
  3. Popular culture studies and literature continue to have a mixed reception within certain mainstream academic spaces. Because popular culture is still sometimes not taken seriously within some of these spaces (even among some disability studies scholars and practitioners), its status remains, for some, “discounted” (at times, popular culture studies may even be perceived as “deviant”). Consequently, this symposium’s organizers aim to: (a) critique what is often described as “deviant” and (b) question and disrupt what “counts” as academic, mainstream, and normative
  4. The symposium organizers seek to create opportunities for all participants—particularly students and any emerging scholars—to share their work, and to make any information provided or presented accessible and usable. We all benefit from discussing and learning about disability and popular culture in ways that include and welcome everyone’s participation. The symposium organizers and the proposal review committee strongly support the notion that “academics have a responsibility to make their work relevant for the society they exist within” (Jurgenson, 2012), and this of course includes making disability studies relevant and accessible to the disability community (Ne’eman, 2012).
  5. The symposium will be consistent with values that underscore the disability rights movement: we seek to make collective investments in disability pride, identity, and cultures. In “cripping” the status quo, we assert, purposefully, “Nothing about us without us.”

Submission Guidelines and Instructions

Proposal types and formats may include, among others:

  1. Individual presentation
  2. Panel presentation
  3. Discussion/workshop/roundtable
  4. Performance/video/film/art entry
  5. Poster session

Please note that other forms of proposals are fully welcomed, and the above list is not exhaustive. If you have something particular in mind, please explain the details and parameters of what you imagine, via your proposal submission(s). You are also welcomed and encouraged to submit more than one proposal.

If your submission is a performance/video/film/art entry, you are responsible for securing permissions and rights for public viewing. Videos and films should be open captioned and descriptions of any artwork will be required.


Each proposal must include:
  1. Name
  2. Affiliation (if applicable)
  3. Contact information (including email and phone/voice phone)
    a. if there is more than one presenter, please indicate the main contact and lead presenter (if these are two different individuals, please indicate this information)
  4. Title of presentation/activity/etc. (15 words or les)
  5. Short description (50 words or less)
  6. Full description (1000 words or less)

How to submit your proposal(s) -- please choose one of the following options:

  1. Via email to Submissions can be sent as an attachment (Word, Word Perfect, Text, Rich Text Format or PDF) or with text pasted/embedded in the body of your message. Please put CRIPCON SUBMISSION in the subject line.
  2. Via Fax: 315-443-4338. Please indicate CRIPCON SUBMISSION on Fax cover sheet.
  3. Via regular mail:

Fantastic! Heroic! Disabled? Cripping the Con
c/o SU Disability Cultural Center
805 S Crouse Ave, 105 Hoople Bldg.
Syracuse, NY 13244-2280

Additional Information

Information and content produced as a result of this symposium will be published, with participant and presenter consent, via Beneath the SUrface (BtS), an open source digital repository on disability and popular culture to be launched at the conclusion of the symposium. BtS will then become available to the academic community as well as to the general public, and will include an array of resources regarding disability and popular culture.

Each day of the symposium, there will be a designated time slot during which poster sessions will be offered concurrently with “open space.”

Open space will be an opportunity for participants to create spontaneous and/or planned topical interactions with other participants—in other words, open space will be a venue for you to create your own symposium “sessions,” during specific times and in specific locations.

All confirmed participants (whether presenting or not) will receive information on:

  1. Completing registration
  2. Requesting disability accommodations
  3. Expressing dietary preferences (some but not all meals will be included)

All participants will be responsible for the cost of their own lodging and travel.

To keep informed, visit us online!

Websites: and

Twitter: @cripcon



Bérubé, M. (1997, May 30). The cultural representation of people with disabilities affects us all. The Chronicle of Higher Education, B4-B5.

Jurgenson, N. (2012, May 11). Making our ideas more accessible. Washington, DC: Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved September 19, 2012 from:

Nayar, P. K. (2011). Haunted knights in spandex: Self and othering in the superhero mythos. Mediterranean Journal of Humanities, 1/2, 171-183.

Ne’eman, A. (2012, May 14). Making Disability Studies accessible. Washington, DC: Autistic Self-Advocacy Network (ASAN). Retrieved September 19, 2012 from