Kafka and Disability


Kafka and Disability

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 Monday 3 June – Wednesday 5 June 2024

  At the Weston Library

  Free events, booking required


About the events

Join us for a series of talks by scholars, artists and activists on the theme of disability and how it relates to Kafka's work.


A human-orangutan hybrid woman with a large pensive face and two babies clinging to her back

Kindred by Patricia Piccinini (2018), silicone, fiberglass, hair

CRISPR, Gene Editing, and Metamorphosis

 Monday 3 June 2024, 10–11am

  Sir Victor Blank Lecture Theatre, Weston Library

Biotechnology is transforming the human condition. A molecular tool called CRISPR-Cas9 is being used to edit human DNA. Scientists will join influential disabled thinkers on stage to discuss ethical issues hovering around gene editing. Come join the dialogue about the future of this metamorphic technology.

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About the speakers

Rosemarie Garland Thomson is a bioethicist, author, educator, humanities scholar and thought-leader in disability justice and culture.
Nada Kubikova is using CRISPR to investigate DNA repair mechanisms in human embryos.
Dagan Wells has pioneered new approaches to reproductive medicine with genome editing and other emergent technologies.
Julia-Sophia Bellingrath is a physician and researcher who is using CRISPR to develop new treatments for blindness.
Eben Kirksey is author of The Mutant Project: Inside the Global Race to Genetically Modify Humans.
Sarah Kane is a legally blind astronomy student who is studying the oldest stars in the Milky Way.



A cartoon cockroach lying on a sun lounger, with two hands behind his head; he also holds a book and his phone, while throwing up a peace sign.

“Rory the Chibi Roach” (2024) by Lawrence Weru

Keynote: Time traveling with Gregor Samsa, or what you can do with six legs

 Monday 3 June 2024, 2–3pm

  Sir Victor Blank Lecture Theatre, Weston Library

The Metamorphoses offers an opportunity to contemplate the unexpected shifts in our being that occur to all of us over a lifetime. The parable of Gregor Samsa’s sudden transformation from an average man to a monstrous vermin is a larger-than-life, grim version of the everyday changes we all experience moving through life. This lecture muses about other possible lives navigated, futures imagined, communities entered, environments created, and flourishing cultivated. Illness, disability, infirmity, and aging sustain the diversity of human variations. 

This event will be live-captioned for deaf and hard-of-hearing audience members.

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Rosemarie Garland Thomson is a bioethicist, author, educator, humanities scholar, and thought-leader in disability justice and culture.



An elderly woman in a blue dress calmly sitting on the back of a humanoid bear

Patricia Piccinini, The Carrier (2012), Silicone, fibreglass, human hair, animal fur.

Extraordinary Bodies, Disability Justice, and Metamorphosis

 Tuesday 4 June 2024, 10–11am

  Sir Victor Blank Lecture Theatre, Weston Library

All of our bodies are gradually undergoing metamorphosis. Over the course of human life, we all become disabled. Yet, many people with extraordinary bodies and minds experience discrimination in everyday life. Just as Gregor Samsa was shunned, many disabled people are excluded in social interactions and are alienated by the built environment. Our speakers will be asked to imagine metamorphosis and transformations on a grand societal scale.  

This event will be live-captioned for deaf and hard-of-hearing audience members.

Book now

About the speakers

Rosemarie Garland Thomson is author of the pathbreaking book, Extraordinary Bodies: Figuring Physical Disability in American Culture and Literature. 
Anna Landre is a wheelchair-user, activist and researcher who works in disability policy, movement-building, & culture.
Stuart Murray is a medical humanities scholar who collaborates with engineers, roboticists, and designers to imagine disability futures.
Hannah Thompson is a partially blind scholar and activist who is particularly interested in literary and cultural representations of disability and what they tell us about our imperfect world.
Zhixin Wan researches disability and inclusion in China, with a focus on learning difficulties and family caregivers.
Khansa Maria is a disability rights activist and researcher who does consulting about culture, politics, international development, and inclusive education.



A man and a woman in a wheelchair are taking a selfie together while the other friends—three standing, one in a wheelchair—smile in the background.

Disability Story Circle

 Tuesday 4 June 2024, 2–5.30pm

 Rosebury Room, Rhodes House, South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3RG

Join us for an intimate gathering at the Disability Story Circle, a thought-provoking event that is part of the week-long Oxford Reads Kafka project. Participants will come together to share personal narratives, insights, and experiences related to disability and inclusion. Join us in a supportive and inclusive environment. Whether you identify as a disability scholar, activist, or simply have a passion for promoting diversity and inclusion, this event offers a space for deep connections and thoughtful reflection.

This event takes place offsite at Rhodes House. Find out more and register to attend.



A plump and naked teenage boy with pig ears, tussled blonde hair, and a light beard. He is reading a copy of Kafka’s Metamorphosis.

Patricia Piccinini, “Teenage Metamorphosis” (2017), silicone, fiberglass, human hair, found objects

Monstrosities and Metamorphosis in More-Than-Human Worlds

 Wednesday 5 June 2024, 2–3pm

 Sir Victor Blank Lecture Theatre, Weston Library

Humans have long dreamed about becoming animals. Kafka’s 'Report to an Academy' suggests that some animals may also desire to become human. Metamorphosis is constantly taking place in the worlds of people and other animals. Creatures inside our bodies are transforming us from within. Our freewheeling discussion will cover diverse topics: rumours about shape-shifting leopard men in Nigeria, microbes in our guts that shape the human condition, and people who were collected together in circus freak shows. 

This event will be live-captioned for deaf and hard-of-hearing audience members.

Book now


David Pratten is author of The Man-Leopard Murders among numerous other publications about the history and society of Nigeria.
Jamie Lorimer is author of Probiotic Planet which offers a new approach for restoring the health of our bodies and our planet.
Beth Greenhough is an expert on the social implications of scientific innovations in the areas of health, biomedicine, and the environment.
Eva Bredler is a PhD student, editor, and dancer, currently exploring (more-than-)human rights in the context of pregnancy and childbirth.
Eben Kirksey is author of Freedom in Entangled Worlds (2012), Emergent Ecologies (2015), and The Mutant Project (2020).
Rosemarie Garland Thomson is a bioethicist, author, educator, humanities scholar, and thought leader in disability justice and culture.


 Booking information

When you have booked your place, the ticketing system will send you an automated confirmation.


These talks take place in person in the Sir Victor Blank Lecture Theatre at the Weston Library.

Weston Library, Broad Street, Oxford, OX1 3BG

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 Wheelchair access

The Weston Library is wheelchair accessible. Find out more about accessibility at the Weston Library.

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