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  • IntroductionDisability and the Emotions
  • David Bolt (bio)

No crying in disability studies, that was the rule set by Joseph Shapiro's No Pity in 1993, only to be broken a few years later by Elizabeth J. Donaldson and Catherine Prendergast at the 2000 Modern Language Association (MLA) conference. In the decade that followed there was a proliferation of work on emotion, especially affect, which culminated in Donaldson and Prendergast's Representing Disability and Emotion, a special issue of the Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies published in 2011. Since then the Centre for Culture and Disability Studies (CCDS), the journal's institutional base, has engaged with the subject of emotion recurrently. For instance, in 2013 a special issue focused on humour (Coogan and Mallett), in 2014 the category of behavioural, emotional, and social difficulties (BESD) was critiqued in the edited book Changing Social Attitudes Toward Disability (Caslin), and in 2016 the matter of pity was revisited in another edited volume, Disability, Avoidance and the Academy (Burdett). In addition, my own recent monograph, rather generously reviewed by Lauren Beard in this issue, considers happiness and comedy at some length. It is perhaps fair to say the controversy of laughing as well as crying in disability studies has become something of a growing interest in the CCDS.

The CCDS seminar themes, as well as Changing Social Attitudes, have included Disability Futurity and The Voice of Disability. The focus on voice, broadly conceived, was initiated by the work of my colleague Marie Caslin and resulted in a successful seminar series, much of which can be accessed via the CCDS YouTube channel (all credit to Owen Barden for the introduction and maintenance of this resource), including a talk in which Julia Miele Rodas heralds a book that is reviewed by Rachael Nebraska Lynch in this issue. During the review process for the Voice of Disability series I received a strong proposal from another CCDS colleague, Ria Cheyne, that did not fit sufficiently with the theme of the seminars. More focused on affect than voice, it nonetheless elicited further engagement with Donaldson and Prendergast's [End Page 1] issue and as a consequence, in 2016, the Disability and the Emotions seminars commenced. It is on this series that, two decades on from the MLA conference, the present special issue is based.

The Disability and the Emotions series was relatively lengthy, as outlined by Disability Studies MA graduates Holly Lightburn and Amy Redhead in the comments section of this issue, as well as the related films on the CCDS YouTube channel, but here I draw attention to the diversity and interdisciplinarity of the seminars from which the six research articles derived. Emma Sheppard (City, University of London) presented a critical crip reading of pain as an emotional lived experience. Chris Foss (University of Mary Washington) argued that Oscar Wilde's "The Birthday of the Infanta" contains complex considerations of pity in Victorian sentimentalism. Ryan C. Parrey (Eastern Washington University) explored feelings of discomfort produced by disability studies for generative potential in academia and beyond. Gesine Wegner (TU Dresden) considered the affect and aesthetics of graphic narratives of illness and disability. Brady Forrest (George Washington University) examined the overlap between emotions and disability in queer and affect theory. Finally, Owen Barden (Liverpool Hope University) explored ways in which, from the mid-nineteenth century onwards, institutions of confinement have stoked antipathy toward people with cognitive impairments. These and the other seminars were introduced by my CCDS colleagues Ana Bê, Ria Cheyne, David Feeney, Manal Herat, Ella Houston, Claire Penketh, Erin Pritchard, and Laura Waite, and all were well attended by academics, students, and other people interested in the overarching theme of Disability and the Emotions.

In addition to the theme, this issue is special for a couple of other reasons. It is the journal's fortieth issue, which demonstrates the sustained work of everyone on the editorial board, the book reviews editors, the comments editor, the guest editors, the authors, Liverpool University Press, Project MUSE, and Scopus. It also marks the passing of the tenth anniversary of the CCDS at Liverpool Hope University, which is a credit to the core membership and a long list of regional...


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