Avoidance and/in the Academy The International Conference on Disability, Culture, and Education

11th-12th September 2013.
Centre for Culture and Disability Studies
Liverpool Hope University, United Kingdom

A few slides from the powerpoint

Title: Red Shirts and Black Holes

The topic of this presentation is recent research into the representation of ability and disability within computer games.  The research is informed by cultural theories of disability, as well as disability studies work on literature and screen cultures (such as Mitchell and Snyder, 2000; Smith 2011). Disseminating this theory within digital games studies is one of the stated aims of the project. My research focuses on games that incorporate horror imagery. Such games construct ability in particular ways (as measurable, vital and demonstrable, for instance). They feature damaged, monstrous or drastically augmented bodies and yet these images are rarely analyzed in terms of disability. What I also wish to discuss is the manner in which this avoidance then multiplies or accumulates during different stages of academic practice, including peer review. A related problem is that existing games and disability research generally adopts clinical, medical or educational frameworks. The sheer, accumulated weight of these paradigms is such that they generate the equivalent of a conceptual black hole. Operating in the vicinity of a black hole creates problems of coherence and distortion, and a great deal of energy must be expended just to stay in place. These issues will be discussed, and questions of situated knowledge production and academic practice will be raised.


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