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The Burton Blatt Institute to Host “Disability Arts and Culture as Vital Performance”

Posted on Wednesday 10/9/2019
“Disability Arts and Culture as Vital Performance”

Syracuse University’s Burton Blatt Institute (BBI) will be hosting “Disability Arts and Culture as Vital Performance”—a two-day symposium on disability arts and culture featuring a book reading and panel discussion—on Oct. 17-18, 2019. 

“Disability Arts and Culture as Vital Performance” is supported by the 2019 Collaboration for Unprecedented Success and Excellence (CUSE) Grant program and BBI’s Office of Interdisciplinary Programs and Outreach.  

Symposium Events:

Thursday, October 17

“In the Province of the Gods”: A Reading by Kenny Fries

Kenny Fries is a poet and nonfiction writer who has explored multiple facets of disability and cross-cultural experience from the Galapagos to Japan to contemporary Europe. He will read from his recent work.

4-5:30 p.m., with a reception and book signing to follow

Peter Graham Scholarly Commons

114 Bird Library 

Syracuse University

Friday, October 18

New Opportunities for Contemporary Disability Writing and Cultural Diplomacy: A Panel Presentation

A panel featuring disabled poets and writers Jennifer Bartlett, Sheila Black, Kenny Fries, and Connie Voisine, with Christopher Merrill, Director of the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa. Moderated by University Professor Stephen Kuusisto, CUSE Grant Principal Investigator. 

The panel will discuss the development of a new international disability and cultural diplomacy initiative, including experiences and thoughts on disability and cultural engagement, what they mean, what a grassroots disability arts project could be in a global context, and efforts to create an International Disabled Writing Program.


Cortland Lecture Hall, Room 340

Dineen Hall

Syracuse University College of Law

“The goal of our symposium is to highlight disability writing and culture, and to plan for a larger international cultural diplomacy program which will introduce disability arts and culture in select global locations,” says Kuusisto. 

“This coming spring, we will be hosting a second disability literature symposium as part of this grant project to address our goal of establishing an International Disabled Writer’s Program in partnership with the University of Iowa,” adds Professor Diane Wiener, Co-Principal Investigator and Associate Director of BBI’s Office of Interdisciplinary Programs and Outreach. “Additionally, the disability poetics and literature journal, Wordgathering, will be transitioning to Syracuse University, under the collaborative leadership of the Office of Interdisciplinary Programs and Outreach and Syracuse University Libraries.  The fall 2019 and spring 2020 symposium events and the eventual establishment of an International Disabled Writer’s Program are all interconnected with Wordgathering’s new home at Syracuse University.”

American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation and Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) will be provided during the reading and panel, and ASL interpretation will be provided during the reception and book signing. For other accommodations, contact Rachael Zubal-Ruggieri at 315-443-2156 or razubal@law.syr.edu.