CFP: Special Issue of JLCDS, ‘Drama, Theatrical Performance, and Disability’

Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies

Special issue: Drama, Theatrical Performance, and Disability

Guest editors: Ann M. Fox and Carrie Sandahl


This special issue of JCLDS will consider the representation of disability in drama and theatrical performance.

The performance of disability in film, television, and popular culture has received considerable attention within disability studies.  But what of the representation of disability in drama and other theatrical performance, that is, the persistent presence of disability in embodied, spoken/signed performances created specifically for the stage? From Philoctetes to Pyretown, from Deaf West to Wry Crips, plays and performers have engaged the disability experience in multivaried ways.  These representations sometimes have been complex, problematic, or contradictory, revealing how disability is situated and constructed in a particular place and time.  They have sometimes created space for the new; for example, in the forthcoming volume Disability, Avoidance, and the Academy: Challenging Resistance (Routledge, 2015) Ann Fox has coined the term “fabulous invalid” to denote the presence of a disabled character in mainstream drama whose presence recasts old ideas about disability, deploying it as creative and generative. Theatrical performance has likewise been a site for disabled performers to tell their stories and insist on visibility.  It has been ten years since Carrie Sandahl and Phillip Auslander’s Bodies in Commotion and Victoria Ann Lewis’s Beyond Victims and Villains. Both these anthologies included discussions of drama and theatrical performance. This special issue of JLCDS extends and focuses these efforts to critical disability studies analyses of play texts and live performance that is explicitly theatrically framed. The guest editors are also interested in pieces that explore central concerns of theater and performance artists who are creating new work or reviving canonical texts that feature representations of disability experience.  Please note that this issue is focused on texts and performances that are specifically shaped for theatrical performance, and not on the performance of everyday life or “invisible theater.”

Contributions might consider but need not be limited to:

  • Disability representations in dramatic literature in any time period.  Please note global literatures are welcome, but must be written about in English translation.
  • Creating disability culture through performance.
  • Creating Deaf culture through performance.
  • Intersectional identities in drama (e.g., what might crip and camp have to say to one another? How do race and disability interrelate on stage?).
  • The disabled body configured in theatrical spaces.
  • Disabled or Deaf playwrights, actors, theater companies, and performance artists.
  • Writing across the disabled/nondisabled “divide” or the hearing/Deaf “divide.”
  • Community-based theaters that engage disability topics and disability aesthetics.
  • Disability and solo performance.
  • “Deaf gain” and “Disability gain” in dramatic performance and writing (for a discussion of “Deaf gain,” see the introduction to Deaf Gain: Raising the Stakes for Human Diversity (U of Minnesota P, 2014)).
  • The politics and possibilities surrounding disability and casting.
  • Disability aesthetics in drama and performance.
  • The social, political, and/or aesthetic implications of recent initiatives to make theatre more accessible.
  • The aesthetics of disability “accommodations” (traditional and innovative).
  • Training and professional development for disabled playwrights, actors, and performance artists.


15th January 2016: submission of a 500 words proposal and a one-page curriculum vitae to guest editors at and

15th February 2016: prospective authors notified of proposal status.

1st August  2016: final versions of selected papers due to editors.

1st November 2016: Decisions and revisions on submissions sent to authors.

1st February 2017: Final, revised papers due.


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