English 180A

Autobiography: Disability Memoir

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Spring 2011 Kleege, Georgina
Kleege, Georgina
TTh 11-12:30 123 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

Cheney, T.: Manic: A Memoir; Grandin, T.: Thinking in Pictures; Grealy, L.: Autobiography of a Face; Hathaway, K.: The Little Locksmith; Hockenberry, J.: Moving Violations; Keller, H.: The World I Live In; Laborit, E.: The Cry of the Gull; Mooney, J.: The Short Bus; Roche, D.: The Church of 80% Sincerity; Simon, R.: Riding the Bus with My Sister


Autobiographies written by people with disabilities offer readers a glimpse into lives at the margins of mainstream culture, and thus can make disability seem less alien and frightening. Disability rights activists, however, often criticize these texts because they tend to reinforce the notion that disability is a personal tragedy that must be overcome through superhuman effort, rather than a set of cultural conditions that could be changed to accommodate a wide range of individuals with similar impairments. Are these texts agents for social change or merely another form of freak show? In this course, we will examine a diverse selection of disability memoirs and consider both what they reveal about cultural attitudes toward disability and what they have in common with other forms of autobiography.

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