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494A Disability in Literature
The literary tradition in Engish is rife with representation of disability. 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. Disability Studies asks us to reframe our understanding of disability history, question socially defined categories of normalcy and ability, and understand and learn about the presence of "disability culture" and its widely diverse members are also using literature to tell their own stories in a vibrant new artistic tradition. Literature is and has been obsessed with the disabled body, both as metaphor and actual subject -- an extension of the degree to which disability has loomed in the larger societal imagination in one way or another across centuries.
Rather than trying to catalogue all the examples of disability in literature, this seminar seeks to use disabililty 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:
Therefore, while our course has a loose chronological frame, it's more appropriate to think of it as organized conceptually. The survey here will be of the questions to which the intersection of disability and literature gives rise. While this is a senior English seminar, disability studies is a very interdisciplinary field. Junior and senior students in other majors with an interest in the course topic are very welcome to join; the course does not presuppose a familiarity with disability studies.
Fulfills the Cultural Diversity requirement as well as the Diversity requirement for the English major.
494B Multicultural Literature
Beyond just teaching children letters, counting, and shames, children's literature teaches individuals how to interact with one another based on their similarities and differences. This seminar will explore how what is accepted and promoted as "appropriate" multicultural representation in literature for children and adolescent changes over time. At a moment of intense American debates about immigration, demographic shifts, and marriage equality, we will explore issues of power and representation-who has the right to write, whose stories are worth telling, what version of those stories should one tell through focusing on literature for children, including picture books, stories, comics, and short novels.
Fulfills the Cultural Diversity requirement.
Juniors and seniors only.