Histories of Disability and Emotions
An International Online Conference Hosted by KU Leuven and the University of Liège, Belgium, 13-15 June 2023
The history of disability and the history of emotions are now well-established fields of research. They have experienced relatively similar debates and methodological developments, and they have strong, if complicated, ties to the history of medicine. But despite their similarities, these two fields have only recently started to intersect. In his 2016 article “Disability History and the History of Emotions: Reflections on Eighteenth-Century Britain”, David M. Turner explored “ways in which history’s ‘emotional turn’ can shed light on disability in the past,” and suggested that we steer away from focusing on “sympathy” and “pity.” Yet, to date there is still relatively little historical research on the connections between disability and emotions.
We welcome proposals for 20-minutes presentations that analyze the emotions experienced by disabled people and/or communal emotions evoked by disabilities in different societies and cultures worldwide throughout history. We expect that the concepts of “disability” and “emotions” themselves may have different meanings than today. Proposals may address, but need not be limited to, the following broad topics: 1) Emotional lives of disabled people, including expressions of joy, pride, satisfaction, pain, shame, fear, sadness, etc.; the interaction of disability with emotional norms; the use of empathy as a social weapon; 2) Emotional reactions to disability by others (love, trust, compassion, fear, disgust, derision, etc.); 3) Analyses of the educational trajectories (formal as well as informal) leading to the constitution of particular emotions/emotional subjectivities; 4) disability and emotions in art history.
Abstracts of no more than 300 words should be submitted to the conference organizers, Ninon Dubourg (firstname.lastname@example.org), Sara Scalenghe (email@example.com), and Pieter Verstraete (firstname.lastname@example.org) by February 1, 2023. Accepted contributors will be notified by February 15. Drafts of papers will be due on May 15. The conference will take place entirely online. After the conference, contributors will be invited to apply to participate in a smaller hybrid workshop in Leuven and Liège in the fall of 2023 that will result in a peer-reviewed edited volume and/or special journal issue.