CFP: Special Issue of JLCDS, ‘Learning Difficulties: Histories and Cultures’

Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies

Special issue: Learning Difficulties: Histories and Cultures

Guest editors: Owen Barden and Tina Cook

Deadline for abstracts: 5th April 2019

Until the late 20th century, intellectual disability history was subsumed or neglected within accounts from the psycho-medical professions, educational and mental health services, sociologists, and historians. More recently, input from a broad range of disciplines has helped to challenge the assumed truths generated about learning difficulties generated by medics, scientists, and medical historians.  Learning difficulties have also emerged as a field of inquiry in their own right within disability studies, following recognition that this aspect of disability has frequently been overlooked in both the initial turn to the social model and the subsequent re-turn to impairment. The overall objective of this special issue will be to make a significant contribution to this growing field of interdisciplinary and emancipatory research about learning difficulties.

Disabled people generally, and people labelled with learning difficulties specifically, have often been excluded not only from research but from culture and history more broadly. This has made people labelled with learning difficulties almost invisible. Where representations do exist, they are often skewed by the label and tropes of learning difficulties. We seek contributions evidencing the generation of new knowledge about learning difficulties and their histories, and which bring a variety of perspectives to bear not only on historical material and accounts, but also on the lived experience of learning difficulties today. 

We encourage histories which foreground the role of culture, and the impact people labelled with learning disabilities have had on culture, rather than medicalized accounts. A cultural approach to history addresses the discursive practices and formations surrounding learning difficulties; it is concerned with the way people said to have learning difficulties are conceptualized, spoken about, and interacted with, and with the relational and environmental factors contextualizing and shaping these practices and formations. We welcome both histories of lives of people labelled with learning difficulties and historical analyses of cultural representations of learning difficulties.

Possible topics might include:

  • Representations of learning difficulties in historico-cultural artefacts.
  • Explorations of identity and intersectionality in relation to learning difficulties.
  • Analyses of the cultural work done by the organizing concept of learning difficulties.
  • Cultural histories, including ‘histories of the present’, which reveal important yet hidden aspects of contemporary experience.
  • Local, personal and insider histories, knowledges and perspectives.

Timetable:

5th April 2019: submission of a 500-word proposal for articles or a 150-word proposal for reviews and a short bio to the guest editors Owen Barden bardeno@hope.ac.uk and Tina Cook cookt@hope.ac.uk.

3rd May 2019: prospective authors notified of proposal status.

30th Nov 2020: Full versions of selected papers due to editors.

May 2020: Finalists selected.  Decisions and revisions on submissions sent to authors.

August 2020: Final revised papers due.

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