Susan Schweik


Susan Schweik's last book was The Ugly Laws: Disability in Public.  She is completing a book tentatively titled Unfixed:  How the Women of Glenwood Asylum Overturned Ideas about IQ, & Why You Don't Know About Their Work. A recipient of Berkeley's  Chancellor's Award for Advancing Institutional Excellence and U.C.'s Presidential Chair in Undergraduate Education , she was involved with the development of disability studies at Berkeley for over 25 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. She was a recipient of Berkeley's Distinguished Teaching Award. Her proudest honor is the name sign given to her by students at Gallaudet: see

Third person pronouns: she/her.

Current Research: 

I am at work on a new book tentatively titled Unfixed: How the Women of Glenwood Overturned Ideas about  IQ, & Why We Don't Know It.


Susan Schweik
Monograph, 2010

Selected Publications

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

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

Beginning With Disability: A Primer (Routledge, 2018). Consulting editor. Editor: Lennard Davis.

“Archeology of the 'Feebleminded: In the Archives with Lee Swearengin,” forthcoming in Osiris (2022)

“Immigration, Ethnicity, and the Ugly Law” (Excerpt from The Ugly Laws). Eds. Maurianne Adams et al, Readings for Diversity and Social Justice (4th edition). New York: Routledge, 2018.

“State of Change: State-Level Actions to Protect the Rights of Parents with Disabilities and their Children” (co-authored with Ella Callow and Lucy Sirianni), Policy Brief, Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society, April 2018

“Porgy and Dubose,” in James Trent and Kathleen Brian, eds. Disability and Masculinity (NY: Oxford University Press, 2017)

“Agent Orange, Monsters, and We Humans,” ALTER: European journal of disability /Revue européenne de recherche sur le handicap 11 (2017), 65-77.

“Ugly Law,” short entry in The Arsenal of Exclusion/Inclusion: 101 Things that Open and Close the City, ed. Tobias Armborst, Daniel D’oca, Georgeen Theodore (NY: Actar, 2016:

“Ugly Laws” (with Rob Wilson), Living Archives of Eugenics Web-Based Project, University of Alberta, Spring 2015

“Homer’s Odyssey: Multiple Disability and The Best Years of Our Lives,” in Beth Linker and Nancy Hirschmann, eds. Civil Disabilities: The State and the Body  (University of Pennsylvania Press, Fall 2014)

“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 lecture, Presidential Session, "Expansive Futures for Intersectional Disability Learning Research, American Educational Research Association, April 23 2022

Invited lecture, “Ray Lifchez’s Interdisciplinary Disability Studies,” Berkeley Symposium on the Evolution of Social Justice in Design, April 1, 2022

Invited lecture, “On Owning and Disowning Stories of Eugenics,” Dismantling Eugenics Conference (6-day event sponsored by the Public History Project, the Ford Foundation, and the University of London), September 28, 2021

Keynote lecture, Illness and Disability in Literary and Cultural Texts International Seminar, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway, June 18, 2019

Invited lecture, “Disability Studies and the Question of Suffering,” Mellon Sawyer “Suffer Well” Seminar, U.C. Irvine, November 7, 2019

Gayley Lecture, “Unfixed: How the Women of Glenwood Changed American IQ, and Why We Don’t Know It,” English Department, U.C. Berkeley, April 17, 2018

“A ‘Home’ Setting: Race, Disability, Care Work and the New Deal,” Berkeley Journal of Gender, Law and Justice Spring Symposium: Home and Homecoming, Berkeley Law School, April 17, 2018

Invited lecture, “Unfixed: How the Women of Glenwood Changed American IQ, and Why We Don’t Know It,” Jeanette K. Watson Distinguished Visiting Professorship, Humanities Center, Syracuse University, March 21, 2018

Invited talk (as panel leader and respondent), “Contested Ethics, Contesting Institutions: Dialogue on Interdisciplinary Research Practice,” Jeanette K. Watson Distinguished Visiting Professorship, Humanities Center, Syracuse University, March 23, 2018

Invited lecture, “Here the Diaries End: Intellectual Disability and the Ends of Life Writing,” Jeanette K. Watson Distinguished Visiting Professorship, Humanities Center, Syracuse University, March 27, 2018

Invited introductory remarks, “Rhizophora” (film showing on Agent Orange and performance in Vietnam), Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco, Nov 5, 2017I

Invited speaker, "Like, A Really Smart Person: The Archives of Intelligence and the Work of the Humanities, " FRIAS Conference on Literature, Culture, and the Work of the Humanities, University of Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany, July 19, 2017

Invited speaker (wrap-up response to conference), International Conference on Disability as Spectacle, UCLA, April 13 2017  

“Slipshod Spectacles: Disability, Testing, Photography and (Social) Media,” International Conference on Disability as Spectacle, UCLA, April 13 2017

“Eugenic Spectacle and Postmodern Poetics,” International Conference on Disability as Spectacle, UCLA, April 13 2017

Invited faculty workshop leader, “Ethics of Disability Studies Research,” March 30, 2017, University of Wisconsin-Madison

“Unfixed: How the Women of Glenwood Changed American IQ, and Why We Don’t Know It.” Invited Annual Endowed Gender Studies in the Humanities Lecture, University of Wisconsin-Madison, March 30, 2017

Invited participant, Disability Human Rights Research Network Convening, Geneva, Switzerland, Sept 30/Oct 1 2016

Invited consultant, leading daylong workshop for faculty and administrators on development of Disability Studies minor, Georgetown University, Aug 24, 2016

Invited panel participant, “The Future of Critical Disability Studies,” University of California at Davis, May 19, 2016

Invited lecture, “Here the Diaries End,” Disability and the Arts Symposium, University of Buffalo, April 2 2016

Invited talk, “A Disability Critique of Torts and Tragedy,” in response to Sagit Mor’s “A Disability Critique of Torts,” Center for the Study of Law and Society, Berkeley School of Law, March 30 2016

Invited lecture (by Skype), “The Best Years of Our Lives,” Disability Studies Program, Miami University, March 9 2016

Invited lecture (by Skype), “The Ugly Laws,” School of Health Technology and Management, SUNY at Stony Brook, March 8 2016

Invited lecture, “How a Ward of Women in a ‘Feeble-minded Home’ Taught Us to Teach to the Test, and Why We Don’t Know It,” Center for the Study of Law & Society Speaker Series, Berkeley Law School, February 29, 2016

Invited keynote address, “Beside(s) Carrie Buck: Human Rights, Reproductive Justice, and the Intellectual Disability Archive,” Disability Across the Disciplines Symposium, University of Virginia, February 18-19 2016

Roundtable participant, “Touching Disability: Crip Theory in the Archive,” Modern Language Association, January 2016

 “Looking Iowa: Eugenics, Its Environments, and the Aesthetics of Intelligence,” International Conference on Controlling Sexuality and Reproduction: Past and Present, University of Lethbridge, Canada (August 12-14, 2015)

“A Feather in a Hurricane and the Law of Falling Bodies: What to Make of Glenwood’s Spaces,” Panel on Carceral Geographies of Disability (also organizer of the panel), Society for Disability Studies, Atlanta, Ga., June 2015

Invited keynote lecture, “Disability Research and the Politics of Storytelling,” University of Washington Conference: Disability Arts, Disability Studies, Disability Justice, May 22, 2015 

Invited workshop panelist, “Pacific and Western Disability Studies: Critical Collaborations,” University of Washington, May 22, 2015 

“Disability Incarcerated,” Invited workshop leader at Other & Belonging: A National Conference organized by the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society, Oakland, April 2015Invited participant, Haas Network for Transformative Change Workshop, Center for Community Change, Washington DC, Dec 15 2014 (presented white paper, “Dismantling Harry Laughlin,” co-authored with Ella Callow)

Closing remarks, Exploring Law, Disability and the Challenge of Equality in Canada and the United States Conference, Berkeley Law School December 5, 2014

Invited lecture, “Modernist Eugenics and Postmodern Poetics,” Philosophy Colloquium and English and Film Studies, University of Alberta, Canada, November 12, 2014

Invited book-in-progress workshop, “The Women of Glenwood and the History of Eugenics,” Living Archives on Eugenics in Western Canada, Alberta, Canada, November 13, 2014

“Slow Food and Crip Time: Helen Keller’s Radical Foodways,” Fourth International Conference on Food Studies, Prato, Italy, October 20, 2014

Invited lecture/workshop, “Harold Skeels, Eugenics, and the Long Shadow of the 1930s,” Fulbright Institute on American Studies for German University Teachers (Sponsored by the German Fulbright Commission), San Francisco State University, September 18, 2014

Invited lecture, “The Berkeley Experience, from Application through the First Year of Life at UCB,” Writing Academy at South China Normal University (July 18 2014)

“Checking Out Agent Orange: On the Disciplinary Edge of History,” Berkshire Conference on Women’s History, Toronto May 23, 2014

Invited workshop, “Ekphrasis, Translation, Access,” University of Chicago, April 2014 (had to decline because of conflict with events related to UCB’s Disability Studies HIFIS search)

Invited keynote lecture, “Disability Studies and American Studies,” Australia and New Zealand American Studies Association Conference, Dunedin, New Zealand, February 12, 2014

Invited speaker, “Disability Legal Studies: Critical and Practical Perspectives,” Workshop at Stanford Law School February 6, 2014

Invited lecture, “Qualities of Mercy: Disability, Dignity, and Debate on the American Small Screen, 1956-1964,” UCLA January 15 2014

“The Idea of Ugliness,” Invited lecture for senior clinicians in psychotherapy, “Conversations at the Threshold” series, The Psychotherapy Institute, Berkeley CA (January 11, 2014)

Invited workshop leader (with Paul Hippolitus), workshop for Berkeley campus Equity and Inclusion staff on disability and equity, Dec 4 2013

“The Rehabilitation Will Be Televised: (Im)perfecting Mayo Bruckner,” Imperfect Children Conference, Center for Medical Humanities, University of Leicester, United Kingdom 13th September 2013

“(Re)routing Disability Tragedy,” International Federation for Theatre Research Conference, Barcelona, Spain July 22-26, 2013

Stigma Management,” Invited talk, Opening plenary panel on the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Goffman’s Stigma, Society for Disability Studies conference, Orlando, June 27, 2013

“Rembrandt’s Beggars,” Invited Lecture, de Young Fine Arts Museum, San Francisco, May 25   2013

Invited speaker (two day session of lecture/workshop), Portland Center for Public Humanities, Portland Oregon, May 2-3 2013

Invited panelist, "Mischievous Entanglements: The Embodied Histories of Paul K. Longmore—Scholar, Teacher, Activist," Organization of American Historians Conference, April 12 2013

“Epicenters of Disability Change: Portland in History,” Keynote Address for the “Epicenter of Change: The City in History” conference, San Francisco State University, April 5, 2013

Invited panelist, “The Future of Disability Studies,” University of Pennsylvania March 14 2013

Invited lecture, “Modernist Eugenics and Post-Modern Poetics,” Modernism and Disability Symposium, University of Pennsylvania March 15 2013

Invited lecture, L&S 110 (student-led course based in series of lectures “taught by the best UC Berkeley has to offer. We took a poll among current students to discover which professors were the most adored on campus”), Jan 23 2013

Invited speaker, Ed Roberts Day symposium for Bay Area disabled high school students, Jan 22 2013, UC Berkeley

Invited lecture, “Kicked to the Curb: Ugly Law Now and Then,” Law and Humanities Colloquium, Berkeley Law School, November 28 2012

Invited lecture/workshop, “Ekphrasis, Translation, Access,” Humanities Center, University of Michigan, October 22 2012

Invited lecture, “Homer’s Odyssey,” University of Hawaii Manoa, October 18 2012

Invited lecture, “Stuart’s Sister: Race, Disability, Debility,” Center for Race and Gender, UC Berkeley, September 2012

Invited lecture, “The Monstrous and the Human” Symposium,Institut des Humanités of Paris Diderot, July 7, 2012

“Kicked to the Curb: Ugly Law Then and Now,” International Crossroads in Cultural Studies Conference, Paris, July 2-6 2012

Invited workshop leader; ran a workshop for graduate students from across the UC system, NYU and Penn, on “Twice-Described Description: Notes Toward an Ekphrastic Culture,” at the “Arts Inclusion: Disability, Design, Curation” Residency, UC Irvine, June 12-20

Invited lecture, “After the Ugly Laws,” Syracuse University, April 5 2012

Invited lecture, “After the Ugly Laws,” SUNY at Geneseo, March 26, 2012

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.