Disability Representation in Contemporary Media (Panel)


Cultural Studies and Media Studies

Michael Willson (Georgetown University)

In recent years, inclusion and representation of various minority groups in the media have become prevalent. Cinema and television have come to offer some of the most diverse character portrayals within this media universe. Accordingly, it is now common to find characters of diverse racial backgrounds, nationalities, and sexual orientations. One of the last frontiers of such minority representation has been the disability community. Television programs such as Atypical (2017-Present) and The Good Doctor (2017-Present) both have a protagonist with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Similarly, Ali Stroker became the first actress in a wheelchair to win a Tony Award in 2019. (And even retail stores now have catalogs that feature models with visible disabilities.)

In response to the recent innovations in this rapidly developing perspective, a session on “Disability Representation in Contemporary Media” could create an enlightening discussion at the 2021 NeMLA Conference. This session accordingly calls for papers written on all aspects of disability representation in recent media. Such disabilities include, but are not limited to, intellectual (e.g. Down Syndrome, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Fragile X Syndrome), psychiatric (e.g. Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, Depression and Anxiety), neurological (e.g. Autism Spectrum Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Cerebral Palsy), physical, visual, and hearing. Forms of media include, but are not limited to, cinema, television, journalism (print, radio, or television), advertisements (print, radio, or television), any form of web media (streaming, social media, podcasts, etc.), and music.

Papers accepted on any approach to disability studies and media studies. Types of disabilities include, but are not limited to, intellectual, psychiatric, neurological, physical, visual, and hearing. Forms of media include, but are not limited to, cinema, television, journalism, advertisements, any form of web media, and music.