Disability Arts and Culture Symposium

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. To meet our organizing committee go to organizing committee bios.

This symposium is part of a bigger project organized with Riverside Arts Center during the months of November and December of 2019. Check their November 2019 exhibit and workshops/events page.

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. 

Go to our schedule to find out more about the symposium.

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.

Registration and Accessibility

Registration is free. However, to provide a better experience we ask for you to register. Go to this form for registration or send us an email to [email protected] with the following information (first and last name, affiliation, position, email, if you are a presenter and if you require access services).

Access services such as Audio Description, Large Print Programs, CART and ASL interpretation will be provided upon request. Two-week notice required. To request, please email [email protected].

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. Resources and links can be found in the presenter resources page.   

For lodging and food information, go to the local information website. 

If you have any questions, please email [email protected].

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.

Darren Harbour is the founder of Imagine Blind Players, Inc. The company's shows are produced, directed, and performed by the blind. Their goal is to make outstanding theatre, to provide blind artists an avenue for expression, and to raise awareness about the rich abilities and differences present in the blind community–and in all disabled and differently-abled communities. Founder, Darren Harbour, has performed in theater, dance, modeling, and more, all while welcoming the many challenges that come with blindness.