English 175

Literature and Disability

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Fall 2019 Langan, Celeste
TTh 3:30-5 289 Cory

Book List

Coetzee, J.M.: Slow Man; Crosby, Christina: A Body, Undone; Haddon, Mark: The Curious incident of the Dog in the Night-Time; Kleege, Georgina: Blind Rage; Melville, Herman: Short Works; Oe, Kenzaburo: A Quiet Life; Rankine, Claudia: Don't Let Me Be Lonely; Shakespeare, William: Richard III; Shell, Marc: Stutter

Other Readings and Media

Richard Loncraine, Richard III (1995 film); Susan Schweik, The Ugly Laws: Disability in Public, "Kicked to the Curb"; Douglas C. Baynton, Defectives in the Land:  Immigration in the Age of Eugenics; Temple Grandin, Thinking in Pictures; Jonathan Crary, 24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep; Lauren Berlant, "Slow Death (Sovereignty, Obesity, Lateral Agency)"


This course will allow students to explore theories and representations of disability.  We’ll wonder whether it’s possible to develop an inclusive, common “theory” adequate to various disability categories (sensory, cognitive, motor; illness/injury; ugliness/fatness/queerness; legal disabilities of race/gender/class/religion/citizenship). We will then shift to an examination of the role of literature in the "humanization" of disability, and read a series of texts that work at once to represent disability and to "crip" norms of representation. In addition to studying literary representations of disability, we will also try to think about how literature, as a practice markedly “different” from ordinary communication, in its “extra-ordinariness,” can be understood through the lens of disability. Finally, we'll consider the extent to which print literature is "disabled" by the advent of new media —which will give us a chance to consider ways media and other designed objects, including designed environments, produce as well as neutralize disabilities.

Assignments will include two short (5-8 page) critical essays, a group or individual presentation project, and regular discussion posts.  There will be no final exam, but regular attendance is required.

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