From freak exhibitions and fairs, medical examinations and discoveries to various portrayals in arts and literature, images of deformity (or monstrosity, used separately or interchangeably depending on context) have captivated us for centuries. The result is a significant body of critical and artistic works where these bodies are dissected, politicized, exhibited, objectified or even beatified. Nonetheless, there remains a gap, an unexplored, unspoken or neglected aspect of this complex field of study which needs further consideration. This two-day interdisciplinary conference aims to bring the senses and the sensuous back to the monstrous or deformed body from the early modern period through to the mid-twentieth century, and seeks to explore its implications in diverse academic fields.
We hope to bring together scholars and students from a wide range of disciplines to engage in a constructive dialogue, network, and exchange ideas and experiences, connecting a community of researchers who share a fascination with deformity, monstrosity, and freakery.
Speakers include Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, Peter Hutchings and Margrit Shildrick. Excuse me while I fan myself. This is an amazing lineup, and I would encourage anyone with an interest in monsters, deformity, freak studies and the grotesque to come along. You can register here (and it's cheaper if you do so before April 15). You can also check out the conference programme here.
[Annie Jones, Bearded Lady. Via]
My paper is entitled "That Twisted Lump of Flesh: Desire, Disgust and Deformity in Basket Case." Please feel free to attend and marvel at the wonderosity of my presentation skills.
If you haven't seen Basket Case yet, its level of low-budget excellence is difficult to adequately describe. This trailer gives you some indication.
[Warning: probably NSFW due to blood and screaming.]
After the conference I will be traveling to some other interesting places. One location, in particular, that is very significant to the history of the grotesque. I shan't say where - it can be a surprise...