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Vari(A)bilities V: “Revisiting Cultural Spectacles and Extraordinary Bodies in 2021” – Public Keynote

June 10 : 12:00 pm - 1:15 pm


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Vari(A)bilities V: Exhibiting Humanity; Inhabiting the Body
June 10-12 // Hosted on Zoom

Email education@ringling.org to receive Zoom Info

We invite the public to attend these free public keynote,
workshop, and performance events associated with the conference.

Vari(A)bilities V is Co-Hosted by New College of Florida, John and Mable Ringling Museum/Tibbals Collection, and University of Winchester


Meet the Keynote Panelists:

Rosemarie Garland Thomson
Professor Emerita of English and Bioethics, Emory University

Author of Staring: How We Look (2009) and Re-Presenting Disability: Agency and Activism in the Museum (2010); co-editor of About Us: Essays From the Disability Series of the New York Times


Michael Chemers

Professor of Dramatic Literature, Theater Arts, UC Santa Cruz


Author of The Monster in Theatre History: This Thing of Darkness (2017), and Staging Stigma: A Critical Examination of the American Freak Show. Palgrave Studies in Theatre and Performance History. (2009)



Analola Santana

Associate Professor of Spanish & Portuguese, Dartmouth College

Author of Teatro y Cultura de Masas: Encuentros y Debates (2010) and Freak Performances: Dissidence in Latin American Theatre (2018)




About Vari(A)bilities V:

“Contortion Act”: Costumed acrobat balanced on one leg with other leg over arm, smoking hookah

The materiality of the body confounds us; it forces a reconsideration of the “linguistic turn,” perhaps even the “social constructionist” turn, by which we understand the world and identity as linguistically or socially constituted. But how do we look at bodies –our own, the first bodies exhibited to us as children, the bodies of clowns and circus performers, or even the bodies of everyday folks with impairments—people who are like us but also somehow different? And what knowledge do such encounters create or reify?

“Exhibited, with the Season’s Greetings”: Booted man center with snake wrapped around body flanked on left by Tom Thumb (person of short stature) in general’s uniform, on right by young girl in pink dress and lifting long white hair.

Co-Hosts New College of Florida and John and Mable Ringling Museum’s historical connection to the Ringling family and the circus, invites us to think about how the full range of humanity has been and is still exhibited and performed. We turn explicitly to the experience of specific and variAble bodies and their humanity.


For more info visit ncf.edu/mellon