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Follow Us Sophia, Belgisch Netwerk voor Genderstudies

+32 (0)2 229 38 69

Middaglijnstraat 10, 1210 Brussels


Disabilities, Arts and Sexualities: At the Limits of Pleasure: Forsaken Sexualities and Transformations of Desire

Latest programme

Thursday March 11th,
Friday March 12th &
Saturday March 13th 2021

This conference will explore the intersections between disabilities, arts and sexualities from an interdisciplinary and multimedia perspective. We use “disabilities” and “sexualities” in the plural, as, in each category, there exist many variations and representations which cannot be reduced to a simple or singular meaning.

Fundamentally, the question of desire/s is at the heart of this exploration. In Sex and Disability (2012), Anna Mollow and Robert McRuer state, “rarely are disabled people regarded as either desiring subjects or objects of desire”. In this conference, we shall redress the balance of this stigmatised presumption and look to the many ways that people with disabilities experience and express sexualities through art. Or to put it differently, how can artistic mediums like film, theatre, literature, music, visual art contribute to an understanding of the experience of disabilities and sexualities?

This conference shall also explore how the arts provide a platform to represent disabilities in a way that differs from the day-to-day legal and official discourses, such as politics, sociology, or narratives of equality and human rights. We can think about how artistic representations work to transform narratives of disabilities from the politically correct context that may inhibit bodily realities, into a language where pleasure and pain (as they relate to disabilities and sexualities) are given expression.

These topics shall be explored under the following themes:

  • Sex, Art, Disabilities and the Body
  • Sex, Art, Disabilities – Orientations and Affects
  • Disabilities, Subjectivities and Sexualities
  • Posthumanism, Sexualities and the Arts
  • Queer Art, Sexualities and Disabilities

Proposals for presentations are welcome, relating to but not limited to: 

  • The disabled artist and sexualities
  • Sexualities and disabilities in art
  • The aesthetics of the body
  • Barriers,taboos and transgressions
  • Stigma and ostracisation
  • Reclaimings and celebrations
  • Pain as disability
  • Pleasures
  • Paraphilias
  • Morality, immorality, amorality
  • Definitions of the disabled body (medical versus social)
  • Transformations through aesthetics
  • Psychoanalysis, sexualities and disabilities
  • Disabilities, virtualities and sexualities
  • Machinic sexualities

General submission information:

  • All proposals must be submitted in English, no more than 300 words.
  • Papers presented at the conference must be presented for the first time.
  • All authors/co-authors will be acknowledged in the conference website and the programme.
  • The abstract, if selected, will appear in its full form on the conference website and the programme.

1.      Proposal for individual presentations 

  • A paper is 20 minutes in length, followed by 10 minutes discussion at the end of the session.
  • The Organizing Committee will select a session Chair from the session participants.

 2.      Proposals for Full Sessions: 

  • Full sessions consist of the presentation and discussion of papers prepared specifically for the Conference. Proposals should include a maximum of three (3) papers ( = 90 mins).
  • Please, remember to include information about the aims of the panel.
  • Each session proposal should include the following information (besides the personal information of each participant): Paper title, brief conceptual summary, brief professional statement.
  • Session organizers must list participants in the expected order of appearance.

Responsibilities of Session Organizers and Chairs:

  • Obtain the approval of anyone you are proposing as a participant. This is imperative.
  • Ensure that the decision on your application is shared with all participants.

3.      Proposal for round-tables

  • Roundtables ( = 90 minutes) are spaces that address a more narrowly defined topic than in a plenary session.
  • Each participant will agree on a specific topic to discuss and debate.
  • Each person is given equal right to participate; Q/A to follow.

Submission form