Monday, April 4, 2016

Composing Disability 2016: Crip Ecologies!


Composing Disability 2015-2016

Thursday 7 April 2016
1:00-2:30 KEYNOTE: "Beyond the plate: Using food as a tool to end oppression," LaDonna Redmond (Jack Morton)


3:00-4:15 Breakout session

Environmental Justice (Jack Morton)
  • Joshua Kupetz (U Michigan), “Disability Ecologies, Urban Infulstructures, and Generic Fictions: or Watching the Detectives in Colson Whitehead’s the Intuitionist (1999) and Jonathan Lethem’s Motherless Brooklyn (1999)”
  • Jina B. Kim (U Michigan), “Unsupported Lives: Witnessing, Infrastructural Neglect, and Environmental Injustice in Detroit and New Orleans”
  • Jessica Cowing (College of William and Mary), “Dis/ability, Indigeneity, and Future Ecologies in Avatar”
Non-Human Natures (Duques 152)

  • Maria Junttila Carson (Syracuse U), “Affects of Bodies, Flowers, and God”
  • Derek Newman-Stille (Trent U) and Haylie Swenson (GWU), “Desiring Animal-Mediated Environments: ‘Fake’ Guide Dogs and the Work of the Pet”
  • Nisrine Chaer (Lebanon), “Thus Spoke the Zbeileh’ to the Becoming-Indiseis Assemblage: A Deleuzoguattarian Account of the Political Protest in Lebanon”

4:45-6:00  Biopolitics: Law, Life, Land, Love (Jack Morton, Sponsored by GW MEMSI)

Sunaura Taylor
Susan Antebi

Friday 8 
April 2016


9:30-10:45 Breakout session

Media Ecologies (Duques 152)
  • Shannon Wooden (Missouri State U), “’Once Big Oil, Always Big Oil’: Disability and Sustainability in Pixar’s Cars 2”
  • Samuel Yates (GWU), “Divergent Cripistemologies: Biosocial Assessments of Atypicality”
  • Kellie White (George Mason U), “Mormon Sex Lives: Discourses on Disability, Capitalism, and Sexuality”
Crip Environments (Jack Morton)
  • Louise Hickman, (U California, San Diego), “Distributing Crip Sociality”
  • Ynestra King, “Ecological Consciousness, Vulnerability and Telling Dirty Stories: “Listening with the Whole Body in Mind: The Women and Disability Documentary Project”
  • Jessica L. Murgel (Gallaudet U), “Deaf Resistance: Reconstituting the Center of Academic Discourse”

11:15-12:30 KEYNOTES: "Healthy Objects, Hygienic Futures: Medical Inspection and the BuiltEnvironment in Mexico," Susan Antebi, and “Beasts of Burden: Animal and Disability Liberation, ”Sunaura Taylor (Jack Morton)

12:30-2:00 LUNCH (Not provided)

2:00-3:00  Student Panel (Jack Morton)

  • Rodrigo Duran (GWU), "You See, I Too Have A Handicap": Disability and The Doom Patrol"
  • Yona Weissman Fabra (GWU), "Speaking Up on 'Autism Speaks'"
  • Maria Wilhoit (GWU), "Disabled People and the Holocaust: Reflections on Germany and its T4 Memorial Sites"
  • Rebecca Hurd, Jacob Ramos, and Peyton Swift, (GWU), "The Hard Worker Conundrum."

3:30-4:45 Breakout session

Toxic Ecologies (Jack Morton)
  • M.W. Bychowski (GWU), “Toxic Environments: the Place and Genre of the Transgender Suicide Note”
  • Kelly Fritsch (U of Toronto), “Cripping Toxic Futures: Disability, Ecology, and the Economization of Life”
  • Sara D. Schotland (Georgetown U), “Death in the Waters: Reading ‘A Summer Tragedy’ as an Incidence of Suicide by Vulnerable African-American Patients.”
 Crip/Queer Embodiments (Media & Public Affairs 132)
  • Sukshma Vedere (GWU), “Re-Writing Gender and Madness in Cereus Blooms at Night”
  • Kevin Gotkin (U Penn), “ Breathing Techniques”
  • Sharon Snyder and David Mitchell (GWU) "Precarity and Cross-Species Identifications: Autism, Crip/Queer Bodies, and the Critique of Normative Cognition" 

5:15-6:30 Digital Amphibians: Parallel Lives and Media Publics (Jack Morton, Sponsored by GW DH Institute)

7:00 Poetry Reading (Smith Hall of Art, Gallery 102)
  • Cathy Eisenhower
  • Tolonda Henderson
  • Mel Nichols

Saturday, December 19, 2015

The G.W.U. Crip/Queer Studies Presents: "Cultural Territories of Disability"

"What passes for disability representation in the arts 
is instead mostly fantasy about us."

Simi Linton

On Dec 3rd, Simi Linton spoke to a collection of several classes, as well as faculty and students in GWU's Crip/Queer Studies contingent. Her remarks, which she entitled, "Cultural Territories of Disability," took on the form of a seminar style dialog with the audience. Over the hour and a half, she examined the history and current contexts of disability in the public, the role of disability arts in democracy, and engaged students with a screening of some of her films that illustrate the lived affects art has on people with a diversity of embodiments. Professor David Mitchell introduced Linton and explained that her work has already been an influential part of his course which was now in its final weeks. Indeed, the event was a special treat for students who were able to receive a clarification and continuation of thoughts they had been stewing on all semester.

At the start of her talk, Linton explained how her first book came out of a dinner at a restaurant with the desire to portray disability as an active mode of embodying the self and society rather than a passive state. As a discerning period, Linton decided that working in the academy would put too many limitations on her time, work, and conversations. In the end, she decided to leave the ivory tower of teaching, "to bring disability into the public" and use the arts to reorient societal orientations, "the cultural authority of disability." Disability justice requires mass participation in order to transform the physical and societal environments that disable those with non-normative embodiments. As Linton brought the audience into the conversation on disability culture, she spurred competition between classes in order to get a diversity of vantage points and to push the attending classes to see crip cultural authority as a good worth fighting to develop.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Coming Soon: Cultural Territories of Disability with Simi Linton

Thursday, Dec 3rd, 3:45-5:00 PM
310 Media & Public Affairs Building

MATCH and GWU's Crip/Queer Studies is extremely excited for Simi Linton's upcoming talk this week to finish off a great semester of disability studies presentations. Please come join us on Thursday if you're in the DC area for a night of insight, stimulating conversation, and -- of course -- dance: Note this is a collaborative effort between the English department and Sharon L. Snyder's Gender & Disability class in the Women's Studies Program at the George Washington University

Simi Linton is an author, filmmaker, and arts consultant. Her writings include Claiming Disability: Knowledge and Identity, My Body Politic, andthe essay “Cultural Territories of Disability” in Disability. Dance. Artistry., forthcoming from Dance/NYC. She is the subject of the documentary filmInvitation to Dance, which she and Christian von Tippelskirch directed and produced. Linton’s consultancy practice, Disability/Arts, works to shape the presentation of disability in the arts. Linton was on faculty at CUNY for 14 years, was a Switzer Distinguished Fellow (1995-1996), Co-Director of the University Seminar in Disability Studies at Columbia University (2003-2007), Presidential Visiting Scholar at Hofstra University (2006) and a recipient of the 2015 Barnard Medal of Distinction. Linton was recently appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio to New York City’s Cultural Affairs Advisory Commission.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

American Sign Language Workshop

“Thou shalt not curse the deaf, 
nor put a stumbling block before the blind"
Leviticus 19:14

On Wednesday, November 18th, 2:30 to 4:30 PM the MATCH Crip/Queer Working Group held a workshop on American Sign Language (ASL) as part of its initiative to increase familiarity with non-verbal forms of communication. The event was led by Samuel Yates and M.W. Bychowski.

The event began with a brief history of how ASL evolved from the French Sign Language system (which used two hands instead of the one handed English model) before it was brought to the United States as part of a new education initiative. The advantages of ASL included the ability to allow members of the Deaf community to communicate with one another while previous models focused on lip-reading, a process which privileges the hearing as the active user of language and the Deaf as the passive recipient. We discussed Deaf and signing culture, the development of local signs and the creation of artistic practices such as Yale's ASL Shakespeare Project.

Next we learned how to sign letters and some basic words. Each of us learned how to spell our names and introduce ourselves: hello, my name is ______.  We learned about the role of facial expressions to punctuate and modify signs. Among the signing etiquette we discussed was the how simulcomming can put the emphasis on the language of the hearing, modifying ASL fit into spoken English and breaking the grammatical rules of signing. In the end, we looked through various options for learning more about ASL through college courses, summer intensive language programs, online tools, text-books, and even smart-phone apps. However each of us moved on from the workshop, however, we all gained a better appreciation of the valuable culture of ASL.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Coming Soon: American Sign Language Workshop

Wednesday at 2:30pm - 4:30pm
The English Department Lounge

American Sign Language (ASL) is a beautiful and helpful linguistic culture used by roughly 2,000,000 people. That makes ASL the 4th most used language in the United States! In affirmation of the significant societal role ASL plays and as part of a MATCH Crip/Queer Initiative to improve familiarity with non-spoken languages, the Working Group is offering an afternoon workshop for beginners and those completely new to ASL. Come with questions and learn the history, culture and skills that makes signing an invaluable part of society. All are welcome!

For more information contact M.W. Bychowski (

Monday, November 2, 2015

Crip/Queer Reading Group: Cripistemologies: A Virtual Roundtable

"How, when, where, and why do queer, feminist, and disability epistemologies converge?

"Proliferating Cripistemologies: A Virtual Roundtable" 
by Robert McRuer and Merri Lisa Johnson.



On October 21st, MATCH's Crip/Queer Reading Group met to discuss "Proliferating Cripistemologies: A Virtual Roundtable," composed by Robert McRuer and Merri Lisa Johnson for GLQ, Volume 8, Issue 2, 2014. The curated roundtable included contributions from Lennard Davis, David Serlin, Emma Kivisild, Jennifer Nash, Jack Halberstam, Margaret Price, Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, Jasbir K. Puar, Susan Schweik, Jennifer James, Lisa Duggan, and Carrie Sandahl. The diversity of the participants reflected the intersections and divergences of many different trajectories in the node of crip knowledges, including feminism, queer studies, phenomenology, marxism, anarchism, and critical race theory. Each scholar brought their own questions and concerns to the table, "What tensions or torsions exist among various cripistemologies? Are certain forms of queer (anti)sociality, for instance, in discord with interdependency as it has been imagined and materialized by feminist disability studies? Are there crip positions, embodiments, or moments of pain or pleasure that necessarily exceed the (compulsory?) identities or identifications of rights-based movements?"

In turn, the members of MATCH echoed the multiplicity of movements that meet in the node of cripistemology. Debates arouse around the utility and danger of identity based politics, rights versus justice tactics of activism, the uniqueness of subject positions and "the situated i" that is always already in relation, as well as the role of systems of government and the free market. The members of the reading group posed their own critical insights and questions as well, drawing out themes relating to post-colonialism, performance studies, transgender studies, and medieval theology. In the end, the definition or use of cripistemology was left uncertain but furthered each of our thinking and produced new collective insights.





Thursday, October 22, 2015

The G.W.U. Crip/Queer Studies Presents: "Cultural Madness"

A Talk by Karen Nakamura 



On October 22nd, 2015, Karen Nakamura spoke on "Cultural Madness: Notes on an Anthropology of Psychosocial Disability" at the Center of Media and Public Affairs at the George Washington University. The event was co-sponsored by the English Department's Crip/Queer Studies programming and Disability Student Services. David Mitchell introduced Nakamura, noting her recent work, Disability of the Soul, and her upcoming project on Transgender in Japanese Culture. Nakamura opened with a call for more disability studies within the field of Anthropology, especially projects focused outside the United States. The speaker subsequently discussed her work with Bethel, an intentional Christian community in Japan that supports a wide variety of peoples with psychosocial embodiments, including schizophrenia and depression. The subject of Nakamura's documentary, "Bethel: Community and Schizophrenia in Northern Japan," was a group of neuro-divergent and neuro-queer persons living in a small town attached to a hospital and university. It was from this population of outpatients that the Bethel intentional community arouse to promote mutual support and dialog. As the name suggests, Bethel was sponsored and founded by a Church group who wanted to affirm non-privatized, non-medical alternative forms of care in order to compliment and contrast the medical practices of the hospital. Modeled on programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Bethel members would meet, share stories, offer assistance and accountability, and consider their relations to society and the wider world.

While many academics might be suspicious of non-medical, Christian programs working with disabled communities, Nakamura found numerous positive alternatives that the socio-religious model offers over the privatized medical model. Rather than drug away the power of those with psychosocial illnesses or incarcerating (or otherwise institutionalizing) them in ways that isolate them and limit their agency, Bethel stresses social and cultural methods that reaffirm relationships. After persons with psychosocial traits become alienated from friends and family either by symptoms or by medical and legal agencies, Bethel works with the person to help bring them back into community, reestablish social bonds, and creating a sense of family. Nakamura offered critiques as well. As a "total institution," the Bethel community creates a kind of dependency on its programming. There are few options to take some but not all of the assistance the institution offers. You are either all in or all out. Furthermore, Bethel promoted a world-view of suffering oriented towards a release into oblivion. Also, the Bethel community remains fairly conservative in its view of gender and sexual politics, limiting the forms of relation and embodiment of its members. Finally, Nakamura explained, the Bethel model is difficult to duplicate due to its ready made population drawn from the hospital's outpatients and inpatients.