CFP: Special Issue of Journal for Literary and Cultural Disability Studies, ‘Literature for Young People’

Special issue: Literature for Young People

Guest editors: Chloë Hughes and Elizabeth A. Wheeler

This special issue of the JLCDS aims to bring together an international and multidisciplinary base of readers and writers who explore disability in literature published for young people.

While disability and deafness have often featured in literature for young people, their most usual role has been as a “narrative prosthesis” supporting the storyline.  Disability and Deaf literature for young readers has boomed in the twenty-first century, including bestsellers like The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-TimeThe Fault in Our StarsWonderWonderstruckAbsolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, and Out of My Mind, as well as a growing collection of texts written in or with Blissymbolics, Braille, Sign Language, or in tactile, textile, interactive, and digital formats. This special issue reconsiders the history and current urgency of disability and deafness in literature for young readers in light of this twenty-first century publishing boom.

Children are often on the front lines of the struggle over the meanings of disability. For young people both with and without disabilities, the works they encounter provide long-lasting frames of reference for understanding bodymind diversity. It is especially important that scholars well versed in disability and Deaf justice, theory, and lived experience critique this canon.

We seek articles on a wide variety of genres, including fantasy, dystopias, science fiction, graphic memoirs and novels, biography, digital forms like blogs and vlogs, “misfit romance,” “sick lit,” and superhero stories. Disabilities that only exist in fictional worlds are fair game. The guest editors are interested in submissions that cross-examine race, class, gender, and sexuality as well as disability and deafness and represent a wide cross-section of international literatures and ethnic groups.

We welcome proposals from disability and Deaf studies scholars (especially those who may not have previously written about literature for young people), but also encourage submissions from scholars of other disciplines who might lend their perspectives on using literature for young people with representations of disability to explore bodymind diversity with children and adolescents. We are also interested in intergenerational dialogues, interviews with authors and illustrators who have included protagonists with disabilities or published books for young people in accessible formats, as well as reviews of recently published young adult literature that features protagonists with disabilities. We particularly encourage submissions from scholars with the same disability as the protagonist.

Examples of content foci for this special issue of the JLCDS include, but are not limited to:

  • Disabled and Deaf characters challenging normalcy
  • Fantastic Freaks and Critical Crips in countercultural texts for young people
  • Aesthetic/artistic representations of disability in picturebooks
  • Literature for young people by Disabled or Deaf authors and illustrators
  • Beyond “narrative prosthesis”
  • Children’s and Young Adult Literature in accessible formats
  • The role /aesthetics of disability accommodations in texts for young people
  • Visibility or invisibility of Disability Rights in literature for young people
  • Intersectionality: race, gender, class, sexual orientation, gender identity
  • Representations of chronic illness and mental health
  • Biographical writing for young people—what is / is not included?
  • Critiques of didactic texts for young people on disability
  • Interviews of authors/ illustrators
  • Reviews of recently published children’s and young adult literature with representations of disability


15th April 2016: submission of a 500 word proposal for articles or 150 word proposal for reviews and a one-page curriculum vitae to guest editors at and

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

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

1st February 2016: finalists selected. Decisions and revisions on submissions sent to authors.

1st May 2017: final, revised papers due from finalists.


Dr. David Bolt

Editor in Chief, Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies



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