Wadham Cross-College Symposium on (Dis)ability

8th February 2015

News, Student news

Wadham undergraduates and visiting students, graduates, post-docs and fellows from a range of disciplines met over a day to debate the theme of (Dis)ability on Saturday. 

Now in its fifth year, the annual symposium creates a framework for dynamic discussion, not just in the sessions themselves, but in conversation over coffee, lunch, tea and dinner together.

Assumptions are challenged, categories reconceived, and issues raised in an atmosphere which is both engaged and open. This year’s theme confronted intellectual and social norms and questions of language in ways which closely and creatively interrelated ideas and lived experience.

Organised collaboratively by Jane Garnett, Fellow and Tutor in Modern History, the symposium had 3 sessions: Augmentation, Ambiguity and Deviation.

The first session, Deviation, was chaired by Peter Thonemann, Tutorial Fellow in Ancient History, with presentations by:
Mary Johnson: ‘The Nonexistent Normal: Empathy and Advocacy in the Age of the Spectrum.’
Howard Chiu: ‘Standard Deviations - Special Education in the UK and Singapore.’
Ben Szreter: ‘Why count the disabled in the nineteenth century?’
Cian O’Concubhair: ‘Plugging the Gap: The Courts and Doing Justice to Disability through Damages.’

Lucy Halton, Student Union President and undergraduate, chaired the second session, Ambiguity, with presentations by:
Callum MacRae: 'Language, Ambiguity, and Power: Lessons for (Dis)ability Activism from Adorno and Wittgenstein.'
Jenny Walker: 'Walking the Tight-Rope: On Speaking and Writing About Mental Illness.'
Jasmine Fledderjohann: ‘Embodiment, social stigma, and disability: insights from the study of infertility.’

The final session, Augmentation, was chaired by George Southcombe, Director of the Sarah Lawrence Programme and College Lecturer in History, with presentations by:
Jack Noutch: ‘“They also serve who only stand and waite.” The Place of the blind in Homer’s Odyssey.’
Lindsay Lee: ‘Quantifying the effects of disability in health policy: a critical review of disability-adjusted life years.’
Eleri Watson in conversation with Anita Paz: ‘Admiration, Aspiration, Curiosity and Envy': an Interdisciplinary Exchange on Viktoria Modesta.’

Marie Tidball (DPhil Criminology) chaired the plenary session.