NeMLA 2022 Panel: Disability Studies and French Cinema

Romain Chareyron's picture
March 10, 2022 to March 13, 2022
United States
Subject Fields: 
Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Film and Film History, French History / Studies, Humanities, Popular Culture Studies

Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)


NeMLA 2022: Baltimore, Maryland. March 10-13


Although academia’s interest in disability studies emerged in the late 1980s, an ever-growing body of research has emerged since then, mainly from Anglo-Saxon and Nordic countries. While the inherent interdisciplinarity that defines the field of disability studies is what enabled it to gain momentum in those countries, it is also what prevented it from gaining traction in France. Several researchers have noticed that “French academia’s heavy reliance on traditional disciplines means that when disability-centred work is produced, it is not valued and thus not well represented,” so that, “readings of French texts that make overt reference to the growing body of (largely anglophone) critical disability studies scholarship remains rare” (Thompson 243-245 – Thompson, Hannah. “État présent: French and Francophone Disability Studies.” French Studies 71.2 (2017): 243-251).

Whereas countries like the United States or England have witnessed the emergence of disability activist groups that spearhead significant societal changes in terms of accessibility and equal access to employment, in France, the decision-making power of people living with disabilities has mostly been ignored in favour of a centralized welfare state that tends to view disability as a problem of assimilating to an “able-bodied” standard.  
This panel offers to approach disability studies in a French context by observing how disabilities have been portrayed in film in order to bring about innovative ways in which to think through the societal issues surrounding the question of disability, and how to care for disabled people. Do films adopt an ableist view of disability, where the latter is portrayed as a “lack” as it cannot meet the normative values projected on the body by society? Do films instead adopt the social model of disability, where the latter is only perceived as a disadvantage because of existing societal structures? These are some of the questions that will inform our discussions in this panel.


Abstracts no longer than 300 words should be directly submitted on the NeMLA website by September 30th, 2021

Contact Info: 

Dr Romain Chareyron

Assistant Professor of French 

Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultural Studies 

University of Saskatchewan

Contact Email: