What do perspectives informed by disability studies have to offer to typical readings of the American counterculture and its fundamental ideals of movement (both geographical and ideological), youth and vitality? In what ways did the American counterculture and the disability movement approach notions of the “normal” and the “abnormal” body? Beat and countercultural writers and artists have been criticised for their romanticised view of other cultures and for appropriating and shedding roles and personas from various marginalised groups at a dizzying pace. How different was the appropriation of disability to the American counterculture’s interest in other cultures (Eastern, African American, Native American) and their potential for constructing a subversive identity? What are the legacies of the American counterculture and its various discourses and styles of liberation for contemporary disability life writing, arts and activism? With such questions in mind, the guest editors of the special issue on ‘Disability and American Counterculture‘ Stella Bolaki, University of Kent, and Chris Gair, University of Glasgow invite proposals on an array of topics which include (but are not limited to) the following:
• Perspectives from disability studies/theory on iconic as well as understudied Beat texts and countercultural ideals more broadly
• Challenges to “normalcy” from disability movements and the American counterculture (comparative perspectives/debates)
• Disability as theme and/or aesthetic in countercultural writing, art, film and music or in more recent works that reference the American counterculture
• Appropriation and reinvention of the term “freak” by the counterculture
• Approaches to spectacle, the stare, the performative, and fashion in American counterculture and disability cultures/arts
• Disability in the sixties-era communes and communal living groups
• Feminist disability studies and the counterculture
• Crip perspectives on the American counterculture
• Legacies of the American counterculture and countercultural ideals, practices and styles for disability writing, arts, and activism
Discussions of specific literary and cultural texts are invited, but preference will be given to projects that use individual texts as vehicles to address broader cultural debates and theoretical inquiries related to disability studies and the American counterculture.
A one-page proposal and a one-page curriculum vitae should be emailed to guest editors Stella Bolaki and Chris Gair:
S.BolakiATkent.ac.uk and Chris.GairATglasgow.ac.uk by the end of July 2013. Finalists will be selected by 1st October 2013, and full drafts of articles will be due on 1st March 2014.