Disco! An Interdisciplinary Conference

Michael Lawrence's picture
Call for Papers
March 2, 2018
United Kingdom
Subject Fields: 
American History / Studies, Cultural History / Studies, Dance and History of Dance, Popular Culture Studies, Sexuality Studies

Disco! An Interdisciplinary Conference

University of Sussex, 21-23 June 2018


From its origins as a New York City subculture amongst gay, black and Latino/Latina practitioners, and its transition into the mainstream, to its subsequent lives across international scenes, disco poses pivotal questions about the entanglements of art, industry, identity, and community. Disco is the site of many significant and lasting debates in popular culture, including those surrounding the figures of the DJ and the diva, the status and significance of dancing bodies, the tension between what is authentic and what is synthetic, and the historic maligning of society’s others.

This major interdisciplinary international conference aims to examine and expand these debates. We therefore invite researchers from a range of academic backgrounds to re/consider disco cultures in their shifting historic and social contexts. We hope to explore disco as a tentacular phenomenon that reaches across multiple sites of production and consumption, from music and dance to fashion and film.


Keynote Presentations by:

Melissa Blanco Borelli (Royal Holloway, University of London)

Tim Lawrence (University of East London).


We welcome proposals for conference papers of 20 minutes but also for pre-formed panels, roundtable discussions, or formats that allow for the presentation of praxis (installations, lecture performances, for instance).

Please send a 300-word abstract, along with a short biography and indication of the format of your proposed presentation to: disco@sussex.ac.uk by Friday 2 March 2018.


Potential points of entry:

Disco as interdiscipline: music, dance, film, fashion, culture, fandom

Disco as place: Disco reaches beyond its NYC origins. How has disco travelled? What are its different geographic and cultural contexts?

Disco as space: What kinds of spaces are explored by disco - its dancefloors, its clubs, its streets, its towns?

Disco as identity: Disco’s queerness, disco’s blackness, disco’s Latino/a-ness, disco’s women. Who made disco and for whom was it made? What other disco populations exist out there today? Considering disco’s appropriation by white-dominated culture.

Disco as history: Disco has outlasted its heyday in the 1970s. What were its historical roots and what have been (and will be) its futures?

Disco as affect: sweat, strobe, glitter, ecstasy, sex, stamina

Death to disco: How has disco been attacked? Exploring backlash, homophobia, racism, and rockism



Mimi Haddon (Lecturer in Music, School of Media, Film and Music)

Michael Lawrence (Reader in Film Studies, School of Media, Film and Music)

Arabella Stanger (Lecturer in Drama: Theatre and Performance, School of English)

Contact Info: 

Michael Lawrence, University of Sussex