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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

GWSS Colloquium Series present: Boys in the Bubble

The GWSS 2016-2017 Colloquium Series and the Critical Disability Studies Collaborative proudly present: 
Boys in the Bubble:Sexual Liberation, Disability, and Prime Time Television
Invited Lecture by Julie Passanante Elman
Friday, February 24th, 2017. 1:30pm-3:00pm. Ford 400.

This talk analyzes the cultural significance of the “bubble boy” by surveying representations of “real” bubble boys (David Vetter III and Ted DeVita) alongside an early example of a “disease-of-the-week” made-for-TV movie, The Boy in the Plastic Bubble (1976), starring a young John Travolta as Tod, a teenager with a compromised immune system who falls in love with the girl next door. By considering how a medical interest story became reimagined as a teen romantic drama, Passanante Elman discusses how rehabilitative edutainment offered an ethical critique of technology through its representation of sexual liberation. Analyzing the cultural requirements of achieving manhood reveals how heavily narratives of liberated sexuality in the 1970s relied upon ableist ideas of overcoming disability, and by pairing The Boy in the Plastic Bubble with a more contemporary example, Glee (2009-2015),we see just how entangled narratives of overcoming disability, heterosexual love, and coming of age continue to be.

Julie Passanante Elman received her Ph.D. in American Studies from the George Washington University in 2009. She is currently Assistant Professor of Women's & Gender Studies at the University of Missouri. Her monograph, Chronic Youth: Disability, Sexuality, and US Media Cultures of Rehabilitation (2014) shows how the representational figure of the teenager became a cultural touchstone for shifting notions of able-bodiedness, heteronormativity, and neoliberalism in the post-sexual liberation era.

Founded in the fall of 2015, the Critical Disability Studies Collaborative (CDSC) is an interdisciplinary group of university students, faculty, and staff dedicated to advancing the rigorous study of disability as a socio-cultural and political site of meaning making. For more information check us out on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/umncdsc/