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New Research and Performance Directions in Premodern Disability Studies

March 4, 2021 - March 6, 2021

Illustration of eight hand gestures arranged in a grid demonstrating early modern sign language letters of R, S, T, V, W, X, Y, and Z, accompanied by Latin phrases Detail of John Bulwer, "Chirologia: or The naturall language of the hand· Composed of the speaking motions, and discoursing gestures thereof. ..." 1644. Folger B5462

An Emory University and Folger Institute partnered program, with the support of Georgia Humanities

March 04 – 06, 2021 (via Zoom)

Centering intersectional approaches, public humanities, and activist performance, this virtual seminar welcomes teacher-scholars, practitioners working on disability studies in the premodern period, and the interested public. Come learn from leading experts in disability and performance studies and investigate how writers, performers, and scholars have—then and now—understood, experienced, and responded to bodymind differences.

This online seminar will build on scholarly work in medieval and early modern disability studies to consider new avenues of inquiry, cultural histories, and performative possibilities.

  • What do theatremakers and theatergoers learn when premodern disability scholarship intersects with public activism, diversity and inclusion initiatives, and provocative disability performance?
  • How might we use stories of disability from the past to raise contemporary consciousness that advances disability justice and equity?
  • What do we discover when disabled actors and audiences, in the past and present, engage with premodern drama and literature?

Seminar Directors

Allison P. Hobgood is an Affiliated Scholar at Willamette University and the published author of various books discussing disability, embodiment, pedagogy, social justice, and Shakespeare. Sheila T. Cavanagh is Professor of English at Emory University. She has published widely on international Shakespeare, pedagogy, and accessibility in Shakespearean teaching and performance.

Registration Information

All sessions will be conducted in the Zoom environment and accessible via CART, ASL, and other inclusive modalities. Please contact institute@folger.edu to specify additional accessibility technologies that will enable your participation, or describe them in the field marked “order notes” when you register.

The deadline for registration is Monday, February 15.

Please register for as many sessions as you wish using the links below. (All times are Eastern.) For more information on speakers and sessions, visit the event website.

Disability Justice Past and Present: The Power of Studying and Staging Disability for Our Own Time

Thursday, March 4, 4pm-5:30 pm | Register

“Talk-Back” Session on Cry Havoc! screening

Friday, March 5, 5pm-6pm | Register

Performing Shakespeare with Neurodiverse Audiences

Saturday, March 6, 10am-11am | Register

ProTactile Theater Workshop

Saturday, March 6, 1pm-2:30pm | Register

New Scholarly Directions in Premodern Disability Studies and Performance

Saturday, March 6, 3pm-4:30pm | Register


March 4, 2021
March 6, 2021
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Folger Library
Emory University