In this course, we will explore disability as it is depicted in literary and cultural texts, from the canon to disability culture. These representations are sometimes used metaphorically, as representations of extreme innocence or evil. Likewise, they might reduce the experience of the disability to a conquerable challenge, or to a fate worse than death. We will reconsider disability history, question socially defined categories of normalcy and ability, and learn about the presence of disability culture. Rather than trying to catalogue all the examples of disability in literature, this course seeks to use disability studies as a genesis point and theoretical framework through which to examine several core questions about disability, literature, and the problems and opportunities arising from the intersection of the two. We will reconsider representations of disability in literature; examine how disability is a culturally constructed category like race, gender, class, and sexuality (and how it intersects with those); study contemporary writing, performance, and art from disability culture; and consider how disability aesthetics can meaningfully contribute to the processes and products of artistic creation. This course presumes no prior coursework in English and welcomes those from across the disciplines interested in studying the social and cultural experience of disability as a way to inform their own work in the arts and sciences.
Students entering 2012 and after: satisfies Literary Studies, Creative Writing, and Rhetoric distribution requirements
(Offered Fall 2015.)