'Disability, Cinema, and Culture' seminar & book launch

Event date: 
9 October 2008

Thursday 9th October 2008, 2.30-5pm

Featuring Petra Kuppers (U. of Michigan) & Neil Marcus (Berkeley, CA) & Kathleen Ellis (UWA)

Law seminar room Second floor, Law Building, University of New South Wales, Sydney (off University mall)

Presented by the ARC Cultural Research Network, Journalism & Media Research Centre & Disability Studies Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney

2.30-3.15pm Petra Kuppers (Michigan) & Neil Marcus (Berkeley)

The Olimpias Disability Culture Projects: Tiresias, and a reading from Cripple Poetics

Abstract: In this short presentation, Petra Kuppers and Neil Marcus will share examples of disability culture art, including an award-winning videodance which interrogates attitudes to disabled bodies and sensuality, and excerpts from their new poetry collection Cripple Poetics: A Love Story.

About the presenters:

Petra Kuppers is a disability culture activst, a wheelchair dancer, Artistic Director of The Olimpias (www.olimpias.org ) and Associate Professor of English at the University of Michigan. She has written a number of books, including Disability and Contemporary Performance: Bodies on Edge (Routledge 2003), The Scar of Visibility: Medical Performances and Contemporary Arts (Minnesota 2007) and Community Performance: An Introduction (Routledge, 2007). The Olimpias' most recent shows include Tiresias, an exploration of sensuality, myth and disability, and The Anarcha Project, an investigation of the intersections of African-American culture and disability culture.

Neil Marcus is a poet and Butoh dancer, a film and TV actor (people still recognise him on the street from his appearance in ER) and playwright who lives in Berkeley, California. His philosophy is that 'disability is not a tragedy, but an art'. He performed his show Storm Reading over 300 times around the world, and has been awarded a United Nations Writer's Medal. Together with Petra Kuppers, he has just released a book of poetry called Cripple Poetics: A Love Story (Homofactus Press, 2008).

3.30pm-4.30pm Kathleen Ellis (UWA) Disabling Diversity: the Social Construction of Disability in 1990s Australian National Cinema

Abstract: While social factors have been recognised in discussions of minority groups in Australia particularly race, gender and sexuality disability has remained outside questions of discourse, culture, communication and meaning. It has long been considered as suited only to a specialty, or medical field of inquiry, not covered in the scope of the humanities and social sciences (Goggin and Newell). The major in-built assumption of the medical model is that disability is an individual pathology. A cursory review of cinematic representation of disability in Australian national cinema during the 1990s reveals a sense of uneasiness about this human condition. Disabled characters are both invisible and hypervisible. Existing within the landscape of diversity as it emerged throughout the 1990's focus on multiculturalism and minority group interests, they are most often used to rehabilitate a previously marginalized other. In this seminar Dr. Katie Ellis critically examines numerous Australian films made during the 1990s with reference to socio-political contexts and influences to approach the question of disability as a problem with society rather than as one within a damaged body.

About the presenter: Dr Kathleen is the author of Disabling Diversity http://www.katieellis.com/disabling-diversity . She received a PhD in communications - disability and media - from Murdoch University in 2005 and currently works in disability support at the University of Western Australia. Katie has mentored filmmakers with disability and published a number of articles on inema and new media. Her research interests include disability, cinema, new media, Australian identity and illness narratives. Her publications have appeared in Media-Culture, Metro, Wagadu, Senses of Cinema, Intersections and Australian Screen Education. She has also presented her work at various conferences in the United States, New Zealand and across Australia. Katie has participated in many film productions in various capacities since the late 1990s and is now at work on a study of disability and new media with Dr Mike Kent. For more details, see http://www.katieellis.com/

At the conclusion of the seminar at 4.30pm, Kathleen Ellis's book Disability Diversity will be launched by Professor Gerard Goggin ‹ refreshments will be served.

Details of the book: Kathleen Ellis, Disabling Diversity: the social Construction of Disability in 1990s Australian National Cinema (VDM Verlag, 2008). Copies for sale at launch at special discount price. For more information, see http://www.amazon.com/Disabling-Diversity-Construction-Disability-Australian/dp/3639023579

Please RSVP to [email protected].