This site is a kind of digital open studio for members of Disability, Culture & Society, a doctoral seminar at the CUNY Graduate Center taught by Joe Straus and Julia Miele Rodas and supported by the Futures Initiative. Seminar members use this site to share writing, images, and other media, to test ideas, and to experiment with theoretical, pedagogical and creative projects that contribute to disability scholarship, culture, and identity at CUNY.
about the course
Like the fictions of gender and race, disability is a cultural and social formation that sorts bodies and minds into desirable (normal) and undesirable (abnormal, sick) categories. Regimes of representation in literature, art, music, theater, film, and popular culture—the ways that bodies and minds constructed as disabled are depicted—both reflect and shape cultural understandings of nonconforming identities and extraordinary bodies, affecting the lived experience of people understood as disabled, often in negative ways. Drawing on examples from the arts and popular culture, this course interrogates the many ways disability identity has been confined to rigid and unproductive social, political, and aesthetic categories. It also explores a significant counter-tradition in which disability is seen as an important artistic resource and a desirable way of being in the world. Discussion points: medical and social models of disability; narratives of disability; disability and performance; disability writing (memoir and fiction); narratives of overcoming; the histories and cultures of autism, deafness, blindness, intellectual disability, and madness. Focus: intersections of disability with other more familiar tropes of human disqualification, including race, gender, and sexuality.