English 180A

Upper Division Coursework: Disability Autobiography

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Fall 2005 Kleege, Georgina
Kleege, Georgina
MWF 12-1 130 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

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; Michalko, R.: The Two-in-One: Walking with Smokie, Walking with Blindness; Mairs, N.: Waist-High in the World; plus a course packet of excerpts from other works


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. Requirements will include two 5-8 page papers and a take-home final exam.

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