Call for Papers: Disability (Spring 2023)

Guest Editor: Charles L. Hughes, Rhodes College

Deadline for Submissions: April 4, 2022

Southern Cultures encourages submissions from scholars, writers, and artists for a special issue, Disability, to be published Spring 2023. We will accept submissions for this issue through April 4, 2022.

Many stories of the disabled South remain to be told. The lives of disabled southerners and the way that disabling conditions (physical, cognitive, sensory, psychological, etc.) have been experienced offer rich opportunities to build on previous scholarship, art, storytelling, and public memory. But, in keeping with those traditions, disability in the South extends beyond even the vast variety of disabled experiences. The South is also a crucial site through which to explore the very notion of “disability,” how its meanings have shifted, and its contemporary implications.

We seek submissions that explore experiences of disability in the South in both past and present. How have disabled people lived, loved, labored, resisted, built community, organized, created, told stories, and transformed their surroundings? Conversely and connectedly, how have ableist practices and ideologies (those which discriminate against disabled people) shaped southern histories and their present-day legacies? Has the South produced distinctive versions of ableism and resistance? How have key notions like access, difference, health, illness, impairment, independence, insanity, integration, justice, and normality been manifested in the South? And how have race, gender, sexuality, and class shaped and been shaped by disability in both a historical and contemporary context?

We additionally seek submissions that consider broader conceptual linkages. How has the category of “disabled” developed in the South? How has disability shaped understandings of “the South” and southernness? How can those categories be comprehended and complicated through approaches rooted in disability studies and “crip theory” (which reclaims the pejorative term as a means of analyzing disabled identities)? And why is foregrounding the experiences of disabled people a necessary addition to appreciating the South as both region and concept?

In all respects, we seek submissions that capture the range of topics and questions that can be considered through a disabled lens. We hope to spotlight both overarching themes and stories, while also appreciating the crucial differences within identities, eras, conditions, and experiences. Finally, in keeping with the disability-justice demand “Nothing about us without us,” we particularly encourage contributions from members of the disability community, as well as those which center the voices of disabled people.

Submissions can explore any topic or theme, and we welcome investigations of the region in the forms Southern Culturespublishes: scholarly articles, memoir (first-person or collective), interviews, surveys, photo essays, and shorter feature essays.

Possible topics and questions to examine might include (but are not limited to):

  • Disability activism across eras and contexts, as well as their intersections with other justice movements
  • Intersectional identities and histories
  • Family and parenthood, including the creation of non-normative family structures
  • Love and sex
  • Health and medicine
  • Caregiving, caretaking, and mutual aid
  • Personhood and eugenics
  • Public and historical memory
  • Narratives of disease and deficiency, particularly as they relate to larger stigmas about southerners and the South in general
  • Artistic expressions by disabled people and the larger role of disabled people within southern cultural history, including visual, literary, and musical/sonic cultures
  • The question of representation, whether self-representation or that created by non-disabled institutions and creators
  • Landscapes and geographies, whether physical (natural and built environment) or social
  • “Freaks,” freak shows, and freakishness in the context of southern cultural traditions
  • “Inspiration porn” (Stella Young) and narratives of inspiration
  • The “medical model” and “social model” of disability
  • The importance of memoir, storytelling, and self-narrativization within disabled communities
  • Labor, class, poverty, and economics
  • Law and public policy, including the roles of legislation and the courts, the success/failures of the Americans With Disabilities Act and other laws, and the development of disability policy

As Southern Cultures publishes digital content, we encourage creativity in coordinating print and digital materials in submissions and ask that authors submit any potential video, audio, and interactive visual content with their essay or introduction/artist’s statement. We encourage authors to gain familiarity with the tone, scope, and style of our journal before submitting. For full submissions guidelines, please click here.

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