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Lecture 1

RHETOR 109 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Disability Studies

Course Code
Rebecca Gaydos

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Rhetoric 109
Disability and Novelty in Art and Social Life
- Disability, aesthetics and social life
- Intersection between disability theory and art theory
- Art can de-familiarize our perception and disrupt the status quo; disabilities
can do the same
What is disability?
- Often automatically stigmatized
- Invisible versus visible (visual impairments cannot be easily seen as opposed
to a paralyzed person)
Disability studies
- Methods
- Aims
- Category of “disability”
oBody as the site of creating differences: physical, emotional and
mental (mind)
oStructures/ environments/ institutions  no ramps on a campus
prevents a paralyzed person from accessing it (if areas were
accessible by all, no one would be “disabled”)
Academic: learning styles/ learning environment
oMedical/ clinical?
oIdentification/ identity
Impairment vs. disability
When does an impairment (temporary, not too severe) become a disability?
Reclamation reading
- Disability studies: location and means to think critically about disability, a
juncture that can serve both academic discourse and social change
- DS holds society accountable (society and DS used to co-exist, defending and
not undermining each other)
- DS examines the meanings we make of differences in behavior, appearance,
functioning etc.
- DS examines and criticizes societies differentiation between normal and
abnormal (“normal versus the pathological, the insider versus the outsider,
or the competent citizen versus the ward of the state)
oWhat can a “competent citizen” do, and from whom? Notion of a
“productive citizen of society
oShouldn’t there be a spectrum? False dichotomies?
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