Three women from broadside ballad woodcuts: the long-nos'd lass (a woman with a pig's face), a young woman with a fan, and an old woman gesturing toward herself.

“Destabilizing Diagnosis: Gender, Power, and Early Modern Disability Studies” is a workshop that will convene as part of Attending to Women, 1100-1800: Power at the Newberry Library on Friday, September 30, 2022 and Saturday, October 1, 2022. This website is the digital hub for our workshop.

The Conference

In 2018, “Attending” asked how Early Modern women’s action and agency shaped their lives and world. In 2022, we will turn to performance, asking how women’s performances of power, gender, and art before 1800 provide powerful paths towards understanding their lives and our own today.

The conference will retain its innovative format, using a workshop model for most of its sessions to promote dialogue, augmented by a keynote lecture and a plenary panel on each of the four conference topics: power, gender, art, and public humanities/pedagogy.

from the conference description

The Workshop

Our workshop engages with the theme of power by examining several textual moments that are part of an emerging canon of early modern disability studies. We will explore how gender, disability, and power intersect in these different representational moments, considering identities that could be considered disempowering or destabilizing to structures of power but also what might be excluded from the field if we only center moments like these in our discourse. How might these canonical moments overpower the destabilizing potential of disability studies?

The Website

In keeping with the ethics and practices of disability studies, our goal is to ensure workshop accessibility through multiple points of contact and modes of participation. While the core of our discussions will take place in-person at the Newberry, this website will provide pre-conference opportunities for workshop participants to connect, introduce themselves, and be introduced to the workshop texts and guiding questions. This light pre-conference work will build community in our group and allow us to maximize our conference session. We also hope the site will facilitate post-conference discussion and collaboration.

Workshop Leaders

Simone Chess, Wayne State University
Lindsey Row-Heyveld, Luther College
L. Bellee Jones-Pierce, Centenary College of Louisiana

The image at the top of this page is a regrouping of three woodcuts from the English Broadside Ballad Archive. Each woodcut accompanies a ballad that touches on disability.

At left, “The Long-Nos’d LASS” (Houghton Library EBB65; EBBA 34978). At center, “The Scolding WIFE” (National Library of Scotland, Crawford.EB.1151; EBBA 33867). At right, “A WARNING For all such as desire to Sleep upon the GRASS” (University of Glasgow Library, Euing Ballads 375; EBBA 31986).