Monday, December 09, 2013

CFP: Take Away the Suit and What Are You? "Cripping" the Comic Con 2014 / Syracuse U (Jan 13; Apr 9-10)

Call for Proposals
Take Away the Suit and What Are You?
"Cripping" the Comic Con 2014
April 9 and 10, 2014
Syracuse University
Syracuse, NY

Anyone can participate in “Cripping” the Comic Con. Although some of the language in this Call for Proposals is decidedly “academic,” and some of the folks who participate may self-identify as “academics,” this symposium is really for everyone, and we mean it. All are welcomed; please feel free to submit your ideas for consideration. We seek to promote a culture of inclusion.

Michael Bérubé tells us that “every representation of disability has the potential to shape the way ‘disability’ is understood in general culture, and some of those representations can in fact do extraordinary powerful—or harmful—cultural and political work” (1997, p. B4). These representations encourage audience members to come to an acceptance and understanding of the wide range of differences that exist among us.

The second annual symposium provides participants with the opportunity to engage in a broad array of reflective discussions about the representations of disability that exist “beneath the surface” and explicitly within mainstream popular cultures both nationally and internationally, particularly the popular culture phenomena that are comic books, graphic novels, and manga.

Submissions incorporating genres that do not typically receive sustained attention in mainstream scholarly spaces are encouraged. These include but are not limited to the following:
  • comix, anime, motion comics
  • films, movies, videos, television shows (including reality TV, animated TV)
  • advertising, newspapers, magazines
  • comic cons, dragon cons, geek cons, movie cons, cosplay, cult fandom, the “geek syndrome”
  • visual arts, painting, photography, deviantART, alternative and alternate art forms
  • poetry, expressive arts, popular fiction, imagetext, fanfic, slash, alternative and alternate forms of literacies
  • material culture, multimedia, social media, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube
  • websites, blogs, memes, zines
  • games, gaming, toys, action figures
As was the case with the first annual symposium, and will remain the case each year, henceforth, one of our primary goals as symposium organizers is to create opportunities for all participants—particularly students and emerging scholars—to share their work.
Another of our primary goals is to assure that all information associated with the symposium is accessible and equitable. The symposium organizers and the proposal review committee strongly support the notion that “academics have a responsibility to make their work relevant for the society they exist within” (Jurgenson, 2012), and this of course includes making disability studies relevant and accessible to the disability community (Ne’eman, 2012).
Since representations in popular culture are generally created outside of academic environments, it is especially important for the general public and not just “academics” to engage in conversations about popular culture and disability. Representations have the potential to affect everyone. We all benefit from discussing and learning about disability and popular culture in ways that include and welcome everyone’s participation.
This event is meant not only to address often unmet needs in scholarly spaces and beyond, but also to address these vital areas/concerns:
  1. Popular culture studies and literature do not pay consistent or adequate attention to disability; when this attention is paid, it is often via “special issues” of journals, etc. 
  2. Further, “Popular culture is…the discursive terrain on which larger social issues are played out, often unobtrusively and masked as entertainment–and this is precisely why pop culture needs to be examined even more closely...” (Nayar, 2011, p. 172). These issues include not only our understandings of diverse minds and bodies, but representations of various social identities, including but not limited to gender expression, race, class, ethnicity, size, age, etc.
  3. Popular culture studies and literature continue to have a mixed reception within certain mainstream academic spaces. Because popular culture is still sometimes not taken seriously within some of these spaces (even among some disability studies scholars and practitioners), its status remains, for some, “discounted” (at times, popular culture studies may even be perceived as “deviant”). Consequently, this symposium’s organizers aim to:
    1. critique what is often described as “deviant”
    2. question and disrupt what “counts” as academic, mainstream, and normative
  4. The symposium will be consistent with values that underscore the disability rights movement: we seek to make collective investments in disability pride, identity, and cultures. In “cripping” the status quo, we assert, purposefully, “Nothing about us without us.” For more information on what we mean by “cripping,” please visit this page on the “Cripping” the Comic Con website:
  5. We especially welcome submissions based upon the variety of issues and strategies that were identified during our 2013 post-symposium session, “Disability Activism and Fandom: A Roundtable Strategizing on Fandom as a Target of/Resource for Activism,” including but not limited to the following topics and questions:
  • The relationship between disability rights activism and fandom
  • Accessibility of cons and fan-related spaces
  • How to engage fandom communities further in the disability rights movement
  • Have there been opportunities for change in how fandom communities approach disability? If so, how?
  • What are the discourses that are produced when “reboots” happen with comic characters?
  • How might we all participate most fully at events during which disability is or is not prevalent, especially when the events involve and in some cases privilege popular culture?
  • How and in what ways might cosplay choices be perceived and harnessed as forms of activism, from a disability cultural standpoint?
  • How might we take advantage of “teachable moments” in the context of addressing the intersections of disability, fandom, and popular culture?
  • The transformative potential of art, and considering ways for “creating representations on our own terms”
  • Being aware of the ways in which gatekeepers to traditional media and large independent media may prohibit access to disenfranchised populations, including people with disabilities
  • There are many ways to be Deaf, Blind, Autistic, etc., and diverse experiences need to be articulated and addressed by creators of comics, etc. What are some strategies that can be used to politicize the comics industry?
Submission Guidelines and Instructions

Proposal types and formats may include, among others:
  1. Individual presentation
  2. Panel presentation
  3. Discussion/workshop/roundtable
  4. Performance/video/film/art entry
  5. Poster session
Please note that other forms of proposals are fully welcomed, and the above list is not exhaustive. If you have something particular in mind, please explain the details and parameters of what you imagine, via your proposal submission(s). You are also welcomed and encouraged to submit more than one proposal.

If your submission is a performance/video/film/art entry, you are responsible for securing permissions and rights for public viewing. Videos and films should be open captioned and descriptions of any artwork will be required. Audio descriptions of videos and films may also be required, depending upon the nature and style of the videos/films being submitted.


Each proposal must include:
  1. Name
  2. Affiliation (if applicable)
  3. Contact information (including email and phone/video phone)
    1. if there is more than one presenter, please indicate the main contact and lead presenter (if these are two different individuals, please indicate this information)
  4. Title of presentation/activity/etc. (15 words or less)
  5. Short description (50 words or less)
  6. Full description (1000 words or less)
How to submit your proposal(s) -- please choose one of the following options:
  1. Via email to Submissions can be sent as an attachment (Word, Word Perfect, Text, Rich Text Format or PDF) or with text pasted/embedded in the body of your message. Please put CRIPCON SUBMISSION in the subject line.
  2. Via Fax: 315-443-4338. Please indicate CRIPCON SUBMISSION on Fax cover sheet.
  3. Via regular mail:
“Cripping” the Comic Con 2014
c/o SU Disability Cultural Center
805 S Crouse Ave, 105 Hoople Bldg.
Syracuse, NY 13244-2280

Additional Information

Information and content produced as a result of this symposium will be published, with participant and presenter consent, via Beneath the SURFACE (BtS), an open source digital repository on disability and popular culture.  BtS is available to the academic community as well as to the general public, and includes an array of resources regarding disability and popular culture.

Each day of the symposium, there will be a designated time slot during which poster sessions will be offered concurrently with “open space.”

Open space will be an opportunity for participants to create spontaneous and/or planned topical interactions with other participants—in other words, open space will be a venue for you to create your own symposium “sessions,” during specific times and in specific locations. There will also be tables, art stations, and other opportunities for networking, gaming, etc. that will follow the thematic tracks of the symposium. The particular tracks will be identified once all submissions have been reviewed by the proposal review committee.

All confirmed participants (whether presenting or not) will receive information on:
  1. Completing registration
  2. Requesting disability accommodations
  3. Expressing dietary preferences (some but not all meals will be included with registration)
All participants will be responsible for the cost of their own lodging and travel.

To keep informed, please visit us online!

Website for “Cripping” the Comic Con:
“Cripping” the Comic Con on Twitter:  @cripcon
“Cripping” the Comic Con on Facebook:


Bérubé, M. (1997, May 30).  The cultural representation of people with disabilities affects us all.  The Chronicle of Higher Education, B4-B5.
Jurgenson, N. (2012, May 11).  Making our ideas more accessible. Washington, DC: Inside Higher Ed.  Retrieved September 19, 2012 from:
Nayar, P. K. (2011). Haunted knights in spandex: Self and othering in the superhero mythos. Mediterranean Journal of Humanities, 1/2, 171-183.
Ne’eman, A. (2012, May 14). Making Disability Studies accessible.  Washington, DC: Autistic Self-Advocacy Network (ASAN). Retrieved September 19, 2012 from

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