Susan Schweik

Associate Dean in the Division of Arts and Humanities
309 Wheeler
By appointment

Professional Statement

Susan Schweik is Associate Dean of Arts and Humanities and a recipient of the Chancellor's Award for Advancing Institutional Excellence. A former Presidential Chair in Undergraduate Education for Disability Studies at U.C. Berkeley, she has been involved with the development of disability studies at Berkeley for fifteen years. She was co-coordinator of the Ed Roberts Fellowships in Disability Studies post-doctoral program at Berkeley (coordinated by the Institute for Urban and Regional Development). She has taught and co-taught undergraduate courses in Disability and Literature, Discourses of Disability, The Disability Rights Movement, Disability and Digital Storytelling, Psychiatric Disability, Literature and Medicine, and Race, Ethnicity and Disability, among others, and graduate courses in Body Theory and Disability Studies and Advanced Disability Studies. Her other teaching and research interests include twentieth century poetry, late nineteenth century American literature, women's studies and gender theory, urban studies, war literature and children's literature. She is a recipient of Berkeley's Distinguished Teaching Award. Her proudest honor is the name sign given to her by students at Gallaudet: see



Title Fields
Schweik_ugly_laws The Ugly Laws: Disability in Public
In the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, municipallaws targeting "unsightly beggars" sprang up in cities across America. Seeming to criminalize disability and thus offering a visceral example of discrimination, these “ugly laws” have become a sort of shorthand for oppression in disability studies, law, and the arts. In this watershed study of the ugly laws....

Selected Publications and Papers Delivered

The Ugly Laws: Disability in Public. New York University Press, 2009; released in paperback 2010.

The Ugly Laws

A Gulf So Deeply Cut: American Women Poets and the Second World War, Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1991.

“Proliferating Cripistemologies: A Virtual Roundtable,” (with Lennard Davis, Jasbir Puar, Rosemarie Garland Thomson, J. Jack Halberstam, Lisa Duggan and others), Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies special issue, ed. Robert McRuer and Merri Lisa Johnson (Volume 8, No. 2, 2014)

Stigma Management,” Disability Studies Quarterly 34:1 (2014)

 “Collision and Collusion: Artists, Academics, and Activists in Dialogue with the University of California and Critical Disability Studies” (with Catherine Kudlick), Disability Studies Quarterly (March 2014)

 “Lomax’s Matrix: Disability, Solidarity, and the Black Power of 504” (reprinted essay), in Matthew Wappett and Katrina Arndt, eds. Foundations of Disability Studies (anthology of work by “senior scholars” in the field; Palgrave/Macmillan, 2013)

Interview (with Eva Egermann), Model House: Mapping Transcultural Modernisms Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna, Austria (Volume 12: Winter 2013)

“Přistěhovalectví, etnicita a mrzácké zákony," in Kolářová, Kateřina. Jinakost – postižení – kritika: Společenské konstrukty nezpůsobilosti a hendikepuDifference/Alterity / Disability/Critique: Social Constuctions of Disability), Prague: Slon, 2012: 511-544.(Ch. 7 of The Ugly Laws, “Immigration, Ethnicity and the Ugly Law” translated into Czech.)

“The Yelling Clinic: Reflections on Our Project,” catalog essay for art show at the Berkeley Art Gallery, April, 2012

"Carlos Montezuma and the Normal Body of the (Native) Citizen," Social Research 78:2 (Summer 2011)

"Lomax's Matrix: Disability, Solidarity, and the Black Power of 504," DSQ 31:1 (2011)

"Marshall P. Wilder and Disability Performance History,"  DSQ 30:3/4 (2010)

"Disability Politics and American Literary History: Some Suggestions," in American Literary History Spring/Summer 2008

"Disability, Mendicancy, Speech and the Law," in Narrative 2007

"Josephine Miles' Crip(t) Words: Gender, Disability, Doll," in Journal of Literary Disability 1.1. 2007 

“The Voice of ‘Reason’,” Public Culture ( Fall 2001) in special issue entitled “The Critical Limits of Embodiment: Reflections on Disability Criticism.”

Invited speaker, “The Yelling Clinic,” DRD (Disability Rights and Development Organization), Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, Dec 30 2012


“Agent Orange in Vietnam: What Else We Can Do Something About,” Make Agent Orange History Conference, October 28-29, 2011


Invited keynote speaker for “Disability and Public Space” conference sponsored by the Nordic Network on Disability Research, Oslo, Norway, April 28-29 2011


“Author Meets Critics” session on my book The Ugly Laws at the American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting, Seattle, April 12-16 2011


Invited speaker, “Homer’s Odyssey: Veterans, Civilians, and Some Years of Our Lives,” Civil Disabilities: The State and the Body Symposium, University of Pennsylvania April 1 2011


Invited plenary speaker, “Continuing on Advisement: Weight Discrimination and Disability Discrimination After the Ugly Laws,” Breaking Boundaries: Body Politics and the Dynamics of Difference Conference, Sarah Lawrence College, March 4-5 2011


“Carlos Montezuma and the Normal Body of the Citizen,” invited speaker at the New School for Social Research, conference on “The Body and the State,” New School of Social Research, February 11-12 2011


Invited plenary speaker, “Advanced Directive, Or Can You Hear Me Now? Aesthetics and Politics in Action,” 36th Annual Scholar and Feminist Conference, Barnard University, February 26 2011


“Ugly Laws Revisited: Neoliberalism and the Banishing of the Unsightly Beggar,” invited speaker at “Cripping Neoliberalism: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Governing and Imagining Dis/Ability and Bodily Difference,” International interdisciplinary conference organized by Departments of Gender Studies and Anthropology, Faculty of Humanities, Charles University in Prague (Oct 8-9, 2010)

"The Ugly Laws and After," Richardson Lecture in American Studies, Georgetown University, March 26 2010 (Plenary lecture for the "New American Spaces" Conference)

"The Human, the Person, and Disability Before the Law." Keynote speech at the Translating the Human Conference, University of Hawai'i at Manoa, January 2010.

"Simulating Disability." Present Difference Conference, Manchester, England January 2010.

"The Black Power of 504." American Historical Association, January 2010.

Current Research

I am at work on a new book tentatively titled _Lost and Found: How a Ward of Women in the "Feeble-Minded Home" Taught Us to Teach to the Test_.