Syllabus honr 268w the Body Perfect and Imperfect: Disability Studies through Stories, Law, and Social Policy


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Professor Sara D. Schotland Spring 2011 Mon. 2-4:30 pm PLS1115

Tawes 1206 (office) office hours by appointment

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

Students will:

  • 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.

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).

    • 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.

    • 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):

    • 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

    • Tammet, Daniel. Born on a Blue Day. New York: Free Press, 2006. 1-28, 47-91.

    • Barron, Judy and Sean Barron. There’s a Boy in Here: Emerging from the Bonds of Autism. Arlington, TX: Future Horizons, 2002. 82-115.

    • Film in class: Temple Grandin’s film on autism

March 21: No class: Spring Break

9. Mar. 28: Psychological Disorders and the Deinstitutionalization Debate


    • Nicki, Andrea. “The Abused Mind: Feminist Theory, Psychiatric Disability and Trauma.” Hypatia 16.4 (2001): 80-104.

    • Gilman, Charlote Perkins. “The Yellow Wallpaper.”

    • Danquah, Meri Nana-Ama. “From Willow Weep for Me: A Black Woman’s Journey Through Depression.” Shaking the Tree: A Collection of New Fiction and Memoir by Black Women. New York: Norton, 2003. 32-43.

    • Film in class : Asylum: “A History of the Mental Institution in America.”

10. April 4: Caregiving Models TERM PAPER PROPOSAL DUE

    • Kittay, Eva. “Not My Way Sesha, Your Way Slowly: A Personal Narrative.” Love’s Labor: Essays on Women, Equality and Dependency. New York: Routledge, 1999. 147-62.

    • Gottlieb, Roger. “The Tasks of Embodied Love: Moral Problems in Caring for Children.” Hypatia 17.3 (2002): 225-36.

    • Kittay, Eva. “Love’s Labor Revisited.” Hypatia 17.3 (2002): 237-50.

    • Murphy, Robert. The Body Silent. New York: Norton, 2001. Chapter 8.

    • Film in Class: “Vital Signs: Crip Culture Talks Back,” second half.

11. April 11: Disability and aging: Is aging a disability?

    • Alzheimer’s Disease. A selected list of personal narratives ...

    • Bouvia v. Superior Court of California,

    • Eudora Welty, “Worn Path,”

    • 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

    • Guest Speaker: Future of the Disability Movement

13. April 25: Student Presentations of their Papers

14. May 2: Student Presentation of their Papers, continued
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).

Office Hours

Please arrange an appointment by email:

Academic Integrity & the Honors College
The University is an academic community. Its fundamental purpose is the pursuit of knowledge. Like all other communities, the University can function properly only if its members adhere to clearly established goals and values. Essential to the fundamental purpose of the University is the commitment to the principles of truth and academic honesty. Accordingly, the Code of Academic Integrity is designed to ensure that the principle of academic honesty is upheld. While all members of the University share this responsibility, The Code of Academic Integrity is designed so that special responsibility for upholding the principle of academic honesty lies with the students.
All University of Maryland students are asked to write and sign the following Honor Pledge to all submitted assignments and exams:
I pledge on my honor that I have not given or received any unauthorized assistance on this assignment/examination.

The University of Maryland honor system is fully described in the Code of Academic Integrity. Please read: The Code is administered by an all-student Honor Council. The student Honor Council office is located in room 2118 Mitchell Building and can be reached at 301-314-8204.

The Honors College works to enrich its community life by promoting an atmosphere of honesty, trust, and mutual responsibility. In the event that a Honors College student is found responsible for a violation of the Code of Academic Integrity by the Student Honor Council, he or she will be dismissed from the Honors College for the semester in which the violation took place and for all subsequent semesters in which the student is enrolled as an undergraduate at Maryland.
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Required Texts/Materials
The texts (articles and book chapters) are available on ELMS Blackboard /electronic course reserves.

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