Disability Arts and Culture Symposium

Call for proposals

Call for proposals – Due July 20, 2019  (acceptance emails will be sent out August 1st)

Ypsilanti, Michigan, December 2–3, 2019

The School of Communication, Media and Theatre Arts and the Critical Disability Studies Minor at Eastern Michigan University are pleased to host a Symposium on Disability Arts and Culture on December 2-3, 2019.

This symposium is part of a bigger project organized with Riverside Arts Center during the months of November and December of 2019.

The Disability Arts and Culture Symposium will bring together our community to build an inclusive cultural sector where artists, faculty, students and community members/organizations will participate in a conversation to raise awareness about disability culture and to promote a future of cultural and artistic inclusiveness for everyone. 

Session topics may include but are not limited to:

  • Artistic Expression and Representation
  • Disability Activism and Advocacy in the Arts
  • Arts Accessibility and Inclusion 
  • Aesthetic Accessibility
  • Social, Cultural, Spatial, and Disciplinary Boundaries
  • Disability and Assistive Technologies, Gender and Disability in the Arts
  • Queer/Crip Theory in the Arts
  • Mad Activism/Art Practice

Goals of Symposium

  • To help participants understand disability as social, political, and relational and therefore forming the grounds for a unique culture.
  • To acquire an analytic framework to better understand disability culture and evaluate representations of disability culture.
  • To share state-of-the art research about disability art and culture.
  • To share strategies and promote accessibility to the arts
  • To promote the relevance of disability studies in a university setting.
  • To facilitate greater conversation and collaboration within and beyond the university.

We welcome proposals in all areas of disability studies and topics listed above.

Submit a proposal

  • Submit proposals using the form or provide the same information in the same order via email in the format of your choosing to Elena SV Flys, program committee at elena.sv.flys@emich.edu.
    • Identification: Please, put “EMU 2019 your last name” in the email subject line and in your attachments if you submit via email.

Possible submission types

  • 60 minute roundtables, panel discussions and workshops
  • 15 minute Individual papers, performances and/or art events

Submission template

  • Name, email address, and institutional affiliation  for each presenter
  • Roundtable or Panel Title
  • Title for individual presentation/contribution
  • Roundtable/Panel  description (300 words maximum)
  • Abstract (75 words maximum)

Organized panel submissions with multiple works should be submitted collectively by one contact person.


We would like to remind all presenters to keep in mind the diversity of our audience and to ensure the presentation is inclusive and accessible. Accepted presentations will receive specific guidelines of how to include accessibility in their presentations and/or work. The Symposium will provide ASL interpreters and CART services for general sessions and those requested by participants. 

Guest Speakers

Petra Kuppers is a disability culture activist, a community performance artist, and a Professor at the University of Michigan. She leads The Olimpias, an international performance research collective. Her most recent monograph is Theatre & Disability (2017). Her previous books engaged disability performance, medicine and contemporary arts, disability culture, and community performance. Her current research focuses on eco-somatics. She lives in Ypsilanti, Michigan, where she co-creates Turtle Disco, a somatic writing studio.

Carrie Sandahl is Associate Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago in the Department of Disability and Human Development. She directs Chicago’s Bodies of Work, an organization that supports the development of disability arts and culture. Her research and creative activity focus on disability identity in live performance and film. She is currently collaborating on the documentary, Code of the Freaks, a critique of disability in mainstream film.