Poster for Blindness Gain and the Art of Non-Visual Reading

Blindness Gain and the Art of Non-Visual Reading with Hannah Thompson

Presented by The Peripheral Visions Speakers Series, Tangled Art + Disability and the Bodies in Translation Project

Friday March 29, 6-8 pm, reception to follow
Location: Tangled Art + Disability, 401 Richmond Street
Wheelchair Access, ASL

This lecture will celebrate the critical and creative power of blindness. Through a discussion of examples from 19th century French literature and art, Professor Thompson will argue that blindness is a fruitful theoretical stance available to both blind and non-blind people, Thompson’s Critical Disability Studies approach will dismantle the traditional hierarchy of the senses and invite new ways of beholding familiar texts and images.

The Aesthetics of Audio Description Master Class:

Thursday March 28, 11 am -1 pm
Sensorium Loft, York University
Wheelchair Access, RSVP

This class will use insights from critical disability studies to explore how audio description might enhance the aesthetic experience of both blind and non-blind beholders. Drawing on articles published in the 2018 special issue of Disability Studies Quarterly, ‘Blindness Arts’, we will explore what non-visual ways of engaging with art and artefacts might teach the visually dependent world. When it is made available to everybody and included in the conception of an exhibition or artwork, can audio description be celebrated as a privileged example of “blindness gain” which works to challenge ocularcentric understandings of the hierarchy of the senses?

Professor Hannah Thompson

Professor Thompson has published widely on French literature and theory, the body, gender, sexuality and disability. She is the author of three books on French literature and culture including Reviewing Blindness in French Fiction (1789-2013) (Palgrave, 2017), which marks the start of Professor Thompson’s influential work on the cross-overs between French Studies and Critical Disability Studies. Professor Thompson has published two edited volumes: New Approaches to Emile Zola and Corporeal Practices: (Re)Figuring the Body in French Studies (with Julia Prest). In 2015 she co-organised the Blind Creations conference and micro-arts festival with Vanessa Warne and she is the author of the popular Blind Spot Blog.

Accessibility and Location Information Details:

Tangled Art + Disability, 401 Richmond Street
Wheelchair access. ASL interpretation. Tangled Art + Disability is in an accessible building near the Southeast corner of Richmond and Spadina. Wayfinders will be present to direct visitors to the gallery. Please help us to make this a scent-free environment (click here).

Sensorium Loft.
The Loft is on the 4th floor of the Goldfarb Centre for Fine Arts, York University.

York University subway is an accessible station on the University Line. Wayfinders will be present to direct and guide participants to and from the subway (other locations by request). Wheelchair access requires an elevator key, so please contact us in advance. For further access information and to rsvp email

The Peripheral Visions Speakers Series is a partnership of the Sensorium Centre for Digital Arts and Technology, VISTA: Vision Science to Application and the Peripheral Visions Lab. This event is co-sponsored by Tangled Art + Disability, Bodies in Translation: Activist Art, Technology and Access to Life, the Graduate Program in Critical Disability Studies, The Departments of Theatre and Cinema and Media Arts, and the Performance Studies (Canada) Speaker Series. We are grateful for support from the Canada Research Excellence Fund and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).

The Peripheral Visions Speaker Series is co-curated by Mary Bunch, Laura Levin and Lauren Sergio.