SDS 2015

Caucus-Sponsored Events for SDS 2015 (Atlanta)

At each annual conference of the Society of Disability Studies, the Student Caucus organizes a variety of panels, discussions, and meetings aimed primarily at student members. These events include a panel introducing new attendees to the conference, roundtable discussions about professionalization issues, and a panel featuring undergraduate scholarship. This year, the Student Caucus is also expanding its reach to conference-wide initiatives, such as the Digital Access Facilitation Team, as we look to leverage our Caucus’ energy to make SDS as a whole more accessible. See the descriptions below for specifics about these various proposed events for SDS 2015.


Conference-wide Initiatives:

Digital Access Facilitation Team (DAFT)

Coordinators: Adam P. Newman (Emory University) & Dale Katherine Ireland (CUNY)

Please see the dedicated page about this brand-new initiative.

Interaction Badge Facilitation 

(Co-facilitated with the Neurodiversity Caucus)

Please see the dedicated page about this new undertaking of our Caucus in collaboration with the Neurodiversity Caucus.

Sponsored Sessions:

Listed in order in which they will occur at SDS 2015

An Introduction to SDS: Welcome and Q&A with Conference Veterans for First-time Attendees

Coordinator: Emily Ladau (CUNY)

M1. Thursday, June 11                12:15-1:15pm             (Embassy Hall B)

A semi-regular feature of SDS for a number of years now, beginning this year the Student Caucus will be taking over coordination of this incredibly valuable session for newcomers in order to ensure that it is consistently offered at every meeting. The following is the abstract for the panel:

This session will serve as an opportunity to welcome new members and give them a sense of what the Society for Disability Studies conference entails, offering them advice for new members as well as an opportunity to pose their own inquiries. For the first time, the SDS Student Caucus is sponsoring the panel, making it a great platform for emerging leaders in the field of Disability Studies to learn from and engage with established leaders in the community. In addition, since the panel is specifically for first-time attendees, it will afford them a unique opportunity to meet and network with other first-time attendees and begin to build professional relationships.

All of the panelists have unique and diverse backgrounds, which will ensure that all discussion attendees will be exposed to a wide range of insights and ideas. The goal is for discussants to share valuable advice and tips that they have culled from their time at previous conferences. Each discussant was chosen for their specific area of knowledge. Ms. Ladau, the discussion facilitator, will provide insights on SDS from her perspective as a graduate student as well as a new member who attended the conference for the first time in 2014. Mr. Rembis will provide insights on SDS from his perspective as the President of the Board of Directors. Ms. Grace will provide insights on SDS from her perspective as a previous attendee, a professor, and spearhead of the Neurodiversity and Queer Caucuses. Ms. Nelson will provide insights on SDS from her perspective as an independent artist working with disabled performers and as a two-time attendee of the conference. And finally, Ms. Finger will provide insights on SDS from her perspective as a past president and longtime member, as well as a writer and activist.

The discussion will begin with 5-10 minute self-introductions by the panelists. In the course of their self-introductions, each panelist will provide an overview of their professional backgrounds, and then share their own experiences at past SDS conferences and with SDS in general. After introductions and experiences are shared, the discussion will be opened to questions and comments from the audience and proceed in the direction that seems most pertinent to their concerns. Finally, we will pass around an attendance sheet and offer to email all the new member’s contact info to each other so they might share their experiences post-conference and continue the professional relationships they build there.

Student Caucus Meeting

Coordinator: Adam P. Newman (Emory University)

M1.3 Thursday, June 11                 12:15-1:15PM              (Embassy Hall C) 

This open meeting will serve as an opportunity for student members of SDS (both undergraduate and graduate) to meet and discuss their unique set of concerns as students as well as review the student-run and -oriented events from the 2015 conference and plan more such events for the 2016 conference.

Accessing the Ivory Tower: Professionalization for Disability Studies Scholars in Academia

Coordinators: Adam P. Newman (Emory University) & Cassandra Hartblay (UNC)

M3. Friday, June 12             12:15-1:15pm            (Embassy Hall F)

Disability studies scholars are increasingly entering the academic job market and finding that they must tailor their projects to the demands of long-established disciplines and diverse institutional profiles. Moreover, many scholars are finding that the demands of an academic job search and career can be quite different for scholars with disabilities. As such, last year, the SDS Student Caucus organized a discussion on these crucial though often under-discussed professionalization issues. The enormous success of last year’s discussion has led us the Student Caucus to organize another discussion session on professionalization issues for this coming conference, with the hope that this will become a regular conference feature. This discussion which will be facilitated by two current members of the Student Caucus, Adam P. Newman (Emory University) and Cassandra Hartblay (UNC), and will be comprised of scholars that are representative of wide array of disciplines, institutions, identities, and experiences. Panelists include Dr. Sami Schalk (SUNY Albany), Dr. Harold Braswell (St. Louis University), Dr. Jeffrey Brune (Gallaudet University), Dr. Michelle Nario-Redmond (Hiram College), and Dr. Pamela Block (SUNY Stony Brook). These panelists are representative of the disciplines of English, Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Bioethics, American Studies, History, Psychology, Anthropology and Occupational Therapy as well as a wide range of U.S. educational institutions, including selective liberal arts colleges, state universities, a private religious university, and institutions with historical relations to disability issues/populations. These panelists will also speak from different moments in their academic careers, including both early career scholars just finishing their first year on the tenure track as well as those who have already received tenure and have even served in administrative roles. After each panelist shares their individual experiences/advice on professional issues for five minutes, the remainder of the time will be devoted to Q&A from attendees, allowing the discussion to be of greatest use to those in attendance. Ultimately, we are hoping that this discussion will be an incredibly generative space in which participants can openly share their concerns, experiences and advice for making a career in the academy as a scholar of disability studies.


Let’s Get Versatile: Disability Studies Beyond the Academy

Coordinators: Jessica Cooley (UW Madison) &  Dale Katherine Ireland (CUNY)

M4. Friday, June 12            5:30-6:30pm             (Embassy Hall E)

In this precarious time of dwindling tenure track jobs, reduced funding for non-profit organizations, and increasing struggles to find full-time work, a discussion dedicated to thinking about a variety of employment opportunities is critical. Let’s Get Versatile: Disability Studies Beyond the Academy is sponsored by the Student Caucus to promote the versatile possibilities available to students and non-students interested in careers beyond university walls.

This discussion will be an occasion to explore what disability studies can do outside of the academy and to ask how the principles and practices of disability studies can work in and through a variety of career paths. This will also be an opportunity to discuss the management of disability disclosure, access, and rights during the interview process and as an employee.

Let’s Get Versatile, which will be facilitated by two current members of the Student Caucus, Jessica A. Cooley (UW-Madison) and Dale Katherine Ireland (CUNY), will include Dr. Katherine Ott, a curator in the division of Medicine and Science at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, Dr. Megan E. Friddle, Director of National Scholarships & Fellowships Program at Emory University, and Leah Smith, Director of Public Relations at Little People of America. Each participant will share their individual experiences on the market and in their current position for five to seven minutes with the remaining time dedicated to questions from the audience and open conversation. Finally, we hope to create a caring space for people to share their experiences and to build community and supportive networks.


Undergraduate Panel(s)

Coordinator: Stephanie Larson (Emory University)

12.2 Cripping History and Literature 

Saturday, June 13           5:00-6:30pm

(Moderator: Stephanie Larson)

Due to the growing presence of Disability Studies at numerous institutions many talented undergraduate students are undertaking scholarly work in the field. Unfortunately, while a growing number of undergraduates are producing important research in the field of Disability Studies, the act of giving a conference paper, or even attending a major conference like SDS is new and potentially frightening territory that many may shy away from until much later in their academic careers. This panel, which is sponsored by the SDS Student Interest Group, constitutes a crucial opportunity through which to welcome new, developing scholars into the Society for Disability Studies and encourage their continued work in the field. This panel features research papers by students who have benefited from the insights of Disability Studies and have now undertaken their own research in the field of literary & historical Disability Studies.

The papers that make up this panel successfully apply the insights of Disability Studies to readings of literature and history to interrogate the more complex issues of representation. The panel presenters use their research to challenge the ableist scripts that have come to be accepted as fact within history and literature in order to produce nuanced readings of the performance of compulsory able-bodiedness in the Riot Grrrl movement, the role of Henry Ford and his efficiency politics in the rise of the medical model of disability, as well as new interpretations of autism and ableism in canonical and YA literary texts.


12.5 Emergent Scholarship in Disability, Media, and Affect 

Saturday, June 13          5:00-6:30pm

(Moderator: Krystal Cleary)

Disability Studies is no longer merely an emergent field, but has now become an established presence at numerous institutions, with majors, minors and independent courses being offered at both the graduate and undergraduate level. This panel features research papers by undergraduate students who have benefited from the insights of critical disability theory and have undertaken their own interdisciplinary research that contributes to and expands upon the field of disability studies.

The papers on this panel productively interrogate various manifestations of media (including blogs, pornography, and Tumblr) and its capacity to disrupt ableist thinking and forge new affective relationships. Our panel presenters offer nuanced analyses of disability’s interconnectedness to the politics of emotion, medical diagnoses, sexuality, and media consumption and access. This panel is sponsored by the Student Interest Group and constitutes a crucial opportunity through which to welcome new, developing scholars into the Society for Disability Studies and encourage their continued work in the field.

Informal Events:

Student Caucus Social

Thursday, June 11              8-10pm          (Mellow Mushroom)

Coordinators: Jordan Johnson (Emory University) & Ana Darrow (Smith College)

At 7:45pm on Thursday, June 11 meet fellow members of the Student Caucus in the lobby of the conference hotel (Hyatt Regency Atlanta) to head over to the Mellow Mushroom  (just two blocks away at400 West Peachtree St NW #1 Atlanta, GA 30308) for some dinner and socializing! Or you can meet us there around 8pm. Mellow Mushroom has vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options and is both affordable and accessible. And here is a menu to check for yourself:

Mentoring Meet-up

Details about the new Mentoring Program, which will include some sort of meet-up at SDS 2015 and is being coordinated by Ryan Parrey-Munger (UIC) & Dale Katherine Ireland (CUNY) are forthcoming  shortly.