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This one-day conference seeks to explore representations of the body as strange, shameful, wrong, impaired, wounded, scarred, disabled, lacking, different or ‘other’ in contemporary media.

The advent of digital media has underlined the importance of visual culture and our curiosity in representations of the body to form opinions about ourselves and others. Media portrayals of bodies can affect our lives because media are one of the primary agents of socialization (Moore and Kosut, 2010). Bodies we see in newspapers, on television and in our social media feeds are often made to appear perfect in order to conform to racialized and heteronormative ideals of what it means to be beautiful and normal in contemporary capitalist societies. Presentations of the body that are white, young, slim and productive have been critiqued from different fields in academia such as feminism, queer theory, disability studies, critical theory and postcolonial studies.

The digital media landscape is posing new challenges to the study of body representation. The Internet and social media in particular have led to an increased representation and engagement with the body through practices such as selfies, webcamming, blogging, vlogging and so on. While digital media may contribute to an empowerment of excluded and silenced bodies, they may equally open up spaces of discrimination, threats, hatred, trolling and silencing online.

A critical approach to representations of bodies and disability is therefore essential as a means of change (Bolt, 2014). This conference aims to develop a new understanding of disability and the media in the 21st century by establishing a dialogue between different scholars on the theme of body representations. In particular, we seek to formulate new questions to comprehend how the tension between non-digital and digital media is creating spaces for new ways of framing disabled bodies. How are new narratives being developed to recount diversity? What is their function? What is the relationship between representation of the body in news outlets and self-representation on social media? What are the epistemological opportunities the media could embrace in order to promote equality, health literacy and ultimately, a more comprehensive understanding of what it means to be human?


09.00-09.30 Registration and Refreshments

09.30-09.35 Opening remarks: Diana Garrisi and Jacob Johanssen

09.40-11.00 Panel One: Prosthetics and Limbs

Emma Pullen, Carrie Hodges, Dan Jackson, Richard Scullion and Michael Silk (Bournemouth University): Representing para-bodies: The mediation between production and consumption in Paralympic broadcasting

Yana Reynolds (King’s College): ‘My Fake Leg is a Form of Power Dressing’: Amputee Bodies in Lifestyle Media

Helena Taubner (Halmstad University): “At least I can Walk” – Online Re-negotiation of Identity in Post-stroke Aphasia

Tomoko Tamari (Goldsmiths): Representations of Disability and the Prosthetic Body

11.00-11.20 Tea Break

11.20-12.40 Panel Two: Approaches and Debates

Colette Gilkes (University of Bristol): Nietzsche and the Social Model of Disability

Megan Bent (Independent Scholar): Vulnerable Strength: The Power of Self-Representation and Disclosure Through Art

Rachel Velody (University of Hertfordshire): Re-inscribing the Feminine in Breast Cancer

Alex Haagaard (OCAD University): ‘Spoonie’ Selfies: Dismantling the Medical-Scientific Hegemony of the Ill Body

12.40-13.30 Lunch

13.30-14.30 Keynote

Professor Lisa Blackman (Goldsmiths): Loving the Alien: Bodies, Futures, Mediation

14.30-15.50 Panel Three: Femininities

Sarah Hill (University of Oxford Brookes): “Make-Up and Motivation”: Exploring Disabled Girls’ Self-Representation Practices Online

Alison Wilde (Leeds Beckett University): The Re-presentation and Self-representation of Disabled Womanhood in Britain’s Missing Top Model

Theodora Thomadakis (University of Roehampton): The emotional manifestation of the Naked ‘good’ and ‘bad’ postfeminist body in popular media: A psychoanalytic discussion

Nathalie Weidhase (University of Roehampton): “They tried to make me go to rehab, I said no no no”: Amy Winehouse, Postfeminist Disorders and the Performance of the Abject Female Body

15.50-16.10 Break

16.10-16.40 Keynote: Changing Faces

Henrietta Spalding and Steve Taylor

16.40-17.40 Panel Four: Masculinities

Beccy Collings (University of East Anglia): The Modern Day ‘Wound Man’?: Professional Wrestling and Wound Culture

Jenna Pitchford-Hyde (University of East Anglia): Militarised Masculinity and Warrior Bodies: Representing Disabled Veterans of the Desert Wars in US and UK Media

Diego Semerene (Brown University): Tailoring the Phallus: The Sartorial Making and Re-Making of the Male Body from The Early Men’s Suit to Social Media’s Muscle Mania

17.40-18.00 Closing Remarks: Jacob Johanssen and Diana Garrisi

18.00 Drinks


Register for your free place on Eventbrite.