Course Description

 

Reading Disability

What does it mean for a person to have a disability? Who has the power to define such an experience? How does disability shape our social world and vice versa? What meanings are attached to it? Aimed at addressing these and similar questions, this course starts from two related premises: the first is that, instead being just a biological fact or medical diagnosis, “disability” is a social and cultural designation with meanings that have developed over time; the second is that literature, that great record of the human experience, is one of the best places to examine these meanings and their implications for our daily lives. Indeed, disability is a pervasive theme in literature. Students in this course will learn how to read the representations of disability that appear in literary texts from different periods and across multiple genres. They will also learn how our intense engagement with such literary resources can help us to complicate the (overly simplified) division between categories like “able-bodied” and “disabled,” or “normal” and “abnormal.”

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