Representations of Disability in Science Fiction (Panel)


Cultural Studies and Media Studies / Interdisciplinary Humanities

Courtney Stanton (Rutgers University-Newark)

The progressive technologies and futuristic perspectives at the heart of most science fiction are in many ways a natural fit with a more progressive understanding of disability. Science fiction texts typically grapple with concepts such as transhumanism, embodiment, and autonomy more directly than do those of other genres, and in doing so they raise significant questions about the experience of disability; more broadly, they often convey the place of disability in not only the future but also the world of today. With this panel, we will explore what science fiction texts—defined broadly to include written text as well as newer media—convey about the value of disability, whether it be through disabled characters, biotechnologies, or, more broadly, conceptions of an idealized future. Panelists are invited to consider not only those examples from science fiction which advance disability representation but also those which may compromise or discount it. Through these presentations we can hope to explore the ways that science fiction has often been a champion genre for disability representation, as well as what it can tell us about the work still left to do.

Submissions are encouraged from all language and literature departments, disability studies, interdisciplinary studies, cultural studies, media studies, and other relevant disciplines. Presentations engaging representations of disability in literature, film, television, advertising, and other new media are all welcome. Abstracts of up to 300 words may be submitted via the NeMLA portal.

This panel will explore what science fiction texts convey about the value of disability, whether through disabled characters, biotechnologies, or more broadly conceptions of an idealized future. Panelists are invited to consider not only examples from science fiction that advance disability representation but also those that may compromise or discount it. Through these presentations we will explore how science fiction has often been a champion genre for disability representation, as well as what it can tell us about the work still left to do. Presentations engaging representations of disability in literature, film, television, advertising, and other new media are welcome.