Seminar – New Research and Performance Directions in Premodern Disability Studies, Emory University and Folger Institute partnered program, with the support of Georgia Humanities, 4 – 6 March 2021, free event on Zoom

New Research and Performance Directions in Premodern Disability Studies

An Emory University and Folger Institute partnered program, with the support of Georgia Humanities
March 04 – 06, 2021
Virtual Event on Zoom
Free; registration required by February 15


Centering intersectional approaches, public humanities, and activist performance, this virtual seminar welcomes teacher-scholars, practitioners working on disability studies in the premodern period, and the interested public. Come learn from leading experts in disability and performance studies and investigate how writers, performers, and scholars have—then and now—understood, experienced, and responded to bodymind differences.

This online seminar will build on scholarly work in medieval and early modern disability studies to consider new avenues of inquiry, cultural histories, and performative possibilities.

  • What do theatremakers and theatergoers learn when premodern disability scholarship intersects with public activism, diversity and inclusion initiatives, and provocative disability performance?
  • How might we use stories of disability from the past to raise contemporary consciousness that advances disability justice and equity?
  • What do we discover when disabled actors and audiences, in the past and present, engage with premodern drama and literature?

Seminar Directors

Allison P. Hobgood is an Affiliated Scholar at Willamette University and the published author of various books discussing disability, embodiment, pedagogy, social justice, and Shakespeare. Sheila T. Cavanagh is Professor of English at Emory University. She has published widely on international Shakespeare, pedagogy, and accessibility in Shakespearean teaching and performance.

Registration Information

All sessions will be conducted in the Zoom environment and accessible via CART, ASL, and other inclusive modalities. Please contact to specify additional accessibility technologies that will enable your participation, or describe them in the field marked “order notes” when you register.
The deadline for registration is Monday, February 15. Please register for as many sessions as you wish using the links below. (All times are Eastern.)



Disability Justice Past and Present: The Power of Studying and Staging Disability for Our Own Time

Thursday, March 4, 4pm-5:30 pm | Register

Theatremakers join with scholars-activists to explore the myriad ways that disability provocatively and more inclusively informs our experiences of drama, literature, and the world. Participants in this roundtable include Elizabeth B. Bearden (University of Wisconsin, Madison), Laura Cole (The Atlanta Shakespeare Company at the Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse), Rosemarie Garland-Thomson (Emory University), Jonathan Hsy (Institute for Advanced Study), Justin Shaw (Clark University), and Stephen Unwin (Theatre and Opera Director, London). The roundtable will be moderated by Allison Hobgood, with the support of Kelly Duquette and John Gulledge. Registered participants will be able to ask questions at its conclusion.


“Talk-Back” Session on Cry Havoc! screening

Friday, March 5, 5pm-6pm | Register

Stephan Wolfert (military veteran, actor, writer, and director, New York) leads a live “talk back” session with Dawn Stern (Chief Operating Officer of DE-CRUIT and actress) based on a screening of the film Cry Havoc!, which will be pre-circulated to registered participants. Cry Havoc! is an award winning, critically acclaimed, one-person play that seamlessly interweaves Shakespeare with personal experience to help us understand the national crises we face when we “wire for war but never unwire from war.” Scott Jackson (University of Notre Dame) moderates the session.

The 75-minute show contains depictions of war, violence, and strong language.  It also contains humor, vulnerability, Shakespeare, and hope.


Performing Shakespeare with Neurodiverse Audiences

Saturday, March 6, 10am-11am | Register

Scott Jackson and Christy Burgess (both of the University of Notre Dame) created and presented a new version of As You Like It for audiences on the autism spectrum after training with Kelly Hunter MBE (Hunter Heartbeat Method). In this workshop, they will present their creative process and describe the successes and challenges associated with these community-based performances. 


ProTactile Theater Workshop

Saturday, March 6, 1pm-2:30pm | Register

Professor Jill Bradbury (Gallaudet University) is joined by ProTactile (PT) experts Jasper Norman and Yashaira Romilus for this workshop on ProTactile, a new form of sign language developed for DeafBlind people. Participants will learn about the philosophy of PT and how the workshop leaders produced an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet in 2018 based on this philosophy. The workshop leaders will discuss the implications of this project for inclusive theater practices, artistic principles, and aesthetics.


New Scholarly Directions in Premodern Disability Studies and Performance

Saturday, March 6, 3pm-4:30pm | Register

To conclude the seminar, Allison P. Hobgood and Sheila T. Cavanagh moderate this interactive scholarly discussion on new directions in premodern disability studies and performance.



Our thanks to the Emory University sponsors who have generously supported this event:
Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archive, and Rare Book Library
Department of English
Disability Studies Initiative
Institute of The Liberal Arts
Theater Emory
Department of Theater Studies
Center for the Study of Human Health
Emory Accessibility Services 
Hightower Fund

More infos on the organisator’s website

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