Syllabus HONR 268W The Body Perfect and Imperfect: Disability Studies through Stories, Law, and Social Policy Welcome! This course explores disability from an interdisciplinary perspective: literature, first-person accounts, disability rights “theory,” and legal framework. Texts will include “classics,” personal narratives by disabled individuals or family members, and articles by disability rights scholars or activists. We will integrate film study with our readings to critically examine how pop culture stereotypes of disability (the “poster child” phenomenon.) Our classes will be enhanced by the participation of guest speakers, disabled individuals and family members.
We will begin the course with a cluster of related topics: What is Disability? Why do definitions matter? How did the disability rights movement evolve? We will then turn to readings that explain the special perspectives that arise for disabled women and African-Americans. We will explore disability challenges for individuals with autism, psychiatric disorders, deafness and/or blindness. Through case studies, we will examine the difficult choices made by parents of disabled children concerning whether to place their children in special education or mainstream classrooms, and their advocacy efforts to access funding and resources to meet their children’s’ needs. We will also consider the intersection between disability and aging, focusing on Alzheimer’s as an example.
Goals of the Course
Explore competing definitions of disability and appreciate how differences in definition shape agendas for advocacy.
Identify and critically discuss the ways in which classical literature, movies, and other forms of pop culture create myths and stereotypes about individuals with disabilities.
Understand the intersections between disability, gender, and ethnicity and appreciate the special perspectives arising from feminist and/or race identification.
Understand the key debates now occurring within the disability community concerning educational initiatives, social policy, and legal reform.
Understand the legal rights of disabled individuals and their families and learn about efforts by groups who are now at the margins of legal protections to obtain coverage under the ADA.
Explore the intersection between disability and aging.
Topics 1. Jan. 24: Introduction to Disability Studies
Shapiro, Joseph P. “Tiny Tims, Super Crips, and the End of Pity.” No Pity: People with Disabilities Forging a New Civil Rights Movement. New York: New York Times Books, 1993. 12-40.
Davis, Lennard. “Constructing Normalcy: The Bell Curve, the Novel, and the Invention of the Disabled in the Nineteenth Century.” Enforcing Normalcy. Ed. Lennard J. Davis. New York: Routledge, 1997. 9-29.
Linton, Simi. “Reclamation,” “Reassigning Meaning,” and “Disability Not Disability,” Claiming Disability: Knowledge and Identity. New York: NYU P, 1998. 1-33.
Longmore, Paul. “The Second Phase: From Disability Rights to Disability Culture.” Why I Burned My Book and other Essays on Disability. Philadelphia: Temple UP, 2003. 230-61.
Film in class: “Vital Signs, Crip Culture Talks Back,” first half.
2. Jan. 31: Looking at the Body
Garland-Thomson, Rosemarie. Extraordinary Bodies: Figuring Physical Disability in American Culture and Literature. New York: Columbia UP, 1997. 5-32.
Grealy, Lucy. “Mirrors,” Chapter 12. Autobiography of a Face. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1994. 205-24.
Mairs, Nancy. Waist High in the World: A Life Among the Nondisabled. Boston: Beacon Press, 1997. 40-64.
Film in class: “Murderball”
3. Feb. 7: Disability and Gender
Wendell, Susan. “Towards a Feminist Theory of Disability.” Hypatia 4.2 (1989): 104-24.
Hartley, Cecilia. “Letting Ourselves Go: Making Room for the Fat Body in Feminist Scholarship.” Bodies Out of Bounds: Fatness and Transgression. Eds. Jane Evans Braziel and Kathleen LeBesco. Berkeley: U of Cal Press, 2001. 60-69.
O’Connor, Flannery. “Good Country People” (1955). http://www.geocities.com/cyber_explorer99/oconnorgoodcountry.html
Guest Speaker: The Paralympics
4. Feb. 14: Disability and Hollywood FIRST ESSAY DUE
Norden, Martin F. “Tiny Tim on Screen, A Disability Studies Perspective.” Dickens on Screen. Ed. John Glavin. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge UP, 2003. 188-200.
Williams, Tennessee. The Glass Menagerie
Film in class: “The Glass Menagerie”
Film in class: “A Christmas Carol”
5. Feb. 21: Blindness
Klages, Mary. Woeful Affliction: Disability and Sentimentality in Victorian America. Philadelphia: U of P Press, 1999. 28-56, 118-46.
Kleege, Georgina. “Call it Blindness.” Sight Unseen. New Haven: Yale UP, 1999. 9-43. http://www.disabilityculture.org/course/kleege.htm.
Kurt Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron”
Film in class: “Ir a la Escuela”
6. Feb. 28: Deafness: Personal Narratives and the Cochlear Implant Debate
Breuggemann, Brenda Jo. “Almost Passing.” College English 59.6 (1997): 647-60.
Rowley, Amy. “Revisiting Rowley: A Personal Narrative,” 37 J. Law & Edu. 311 (2008)
Gallaudet University’s “Deaf President Now” Protest (1988): http://pr.gallaudet.edu/dpn/index3.html
Summary of Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
Film in class: “Sound and Fury.”
In Class: “Voices in a Deaf Theater”
7. Mar. 7: Down’s Syndrome and Intellectual Disability; Prenatal Testing
Berube, Michael. Life as We Know It: A Father, a Family, and an Exceptional Child. New York: Pantheon Books, 1996. ix-xix, 47-115.
Ferguson, Philip. “The Social Construction of Mental Retardation.” Social Policy. 1987.
Asch, Adrienne. “Genes and Stability: Defining Health and the Goals of Medicine: Disability Equality and Prenatal Testing: Contradictory or Compatible.” 30 Fla. St. U. L. Rev. 315 (2003).
Film in class: “Educating Peter”
8. Mar. 14: Autism
Watch “My Language” in advance of class s on You Tube.
Watch a few brief (approx 4 min each) autism teaching videos in advance of class
Eudora Welty, "A Visit of Charity." Literature and Aging. Eds. Martin Kohn et al. 331-335.
Film in class: “Inside Looking Out” (on Alzheimer’s)
12. April 18: Introduction to the Americans With Disabilities Act
U.S. EEOC Americans with Disabilities Act Questions and Answers http://www.ada.gov/q%26aeng02.htm
Guest Speaker: Future of the Disability Movement
13. April 25: Student Presentations of their Papers
14. May 2: Student Presentation of their Papers, continued
FINAL PAPERS DUE
Class Meeting Times
Mondays 2-430pm PLS 1115
Students are expected to attend class regularly and will be graded in part on the quality of class participation.
Students are asked to prepare (a) two short response papers (four double spaced pages) AND (b) a final term paper of twelve-fifteen pages. The final paper will be due at the end of the course.
Grades will be determined as follows: 34% final paper, 32% class participation, 34% response papers (17% each).
Please arrange an appointment by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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