English 175

Upper Division Coursework: Literature and Disability

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Spring 2006 Schweik, Susan
Schweik, Susan
TTh 12:30-2 110 Wheeler

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What is disability? Rosemarie Garland Thomson has provisionally defined it as ?first, a system for interpreting bodily variations; second, a relationship between bodies and their environments; third, a set of practices that produce both the able-bodied and the disabled; fourth, a way of describing the inherent instability of the embodied self; fifth, a category of scholarly analysis; and sixth, a political and historical community.? This course will explore disability as a representational system and discursive construction. We?ll focus on some key representations of disability in several different genres: theater (Philoctetes, Richard III, Children of a Lesser God, Sign Me Alice, Weights, and Storm Reading); poetry (poems by Josephine Miles, Adrienne Rich, Mark O?Brien, Jim Ferris and Leroy Moore); short fiction (stories by Stephen Crane, Sarah Orne Jewett, Toni Morrison, Anne Finger, and Jean Stewart); graphic novel (Palestine); and war film (The Best Years of Our Lives). Throughout, we?ll be thinking about disability and difference (e.g. race, gender, and different kinds of impairment). In a final section of the course we?ll focus on the representation of disability and (natural and unnatural) disaster, taking a new look at Zora Neale Hurston?s Their Eyes Were Watching God to see what disability studies can bring to and learn from its representation of the novel?s representation of the 1928 hurricane that killed almost 2,000 poor black migrant workers in Florida.

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