Images of the Disabled

Course Description and Objectives:

Depictions of illness and physical disability reflect, often in reversal, our beliefs about merit, human worth, dignity, community, and the definition of a life well lived. The works examined in this course—ranging in genre from the horror film to the sports documentary—can evoke anything from pity to anger to laughter. They are worth bearing witness to on their own merits, as well as serving as a reflection of the complex social negotiations our society has continued to make on these issues through decades. While you may be familiar with some of the works that will be screened in this course, the goal here will be to help you to see them in a new way, both from an ideological and fine art perspective.

 

Some of these works may be difficult or unpleasant to view. In order to understand the issues raised by the depiction of illness and disability in films, one must have personal experience with these works. If a student possesses strong objections to viewing a particular film, I will take such feelings under consideration and select an alternative work for them to view as a substitute. I will suggest, however, that such opinions are most forceful when they are informed by the experience of the objectionable artwork. Try to work through your initial response to gain a deeper understanding of the filmmakers’ intentions, the specific historical moment in which the films were created, and the critical theories that inform how viewers have responded to these films will facilitate this understanding.

 

Students will become better cultural workers, rehabilitation specialists and citizens by:

  • mastering the broad outline of the representation of disability: recurring types and their evolution; recurring genres (especially melodrama, documentary, and war); various formal approaches of significant mainstream, independent and avant garde artists; and the metaphors associated with various disabilities.
  • discovering the history of the disability rights movement in the United States: integration vs. mainstreaming; fighting discrimination in employment, public accommodations, and education; lobbying for civil rights legislation; movement building and protests; and the fight for enforcement and budget allocations.
  • learning the basics of contemporary controversies in disability studies: medical vs. social model of disability; the construction of normalcy; the stare vs. beholding; Deaf culture; the notion of stigma; abortion and doctor-assisted suicide in light of the interconnected history of eugenics and disability; authorship and authenticity; the uses and abuses of naming; sexuality, desire, and sexual practice; passing; and the body as spectacle.
  • examining the differences between the depiction of disability and self-representation by those with various disabilities.

 

Course Requirements and Evaluation Criteria:

  • Another aspect of your grade is your class participation. This mark will reflect your sustained contributions to discussion in class and online. Good class participation, online and in-person, uses the following techniques:
    • Makes a clear point
      • Uses contributing evidence, data or examples in making it
    • Links the point creatively to the readings, lectures or issues
      • Or the point supplements important things missing in them
    • Synthesizes or sums up the discussion thus far to clarify where the class stands
    • Asks for clarification, evidence or examples
    • Points out another’s unspoken assumptions where relevant
    • Raises a problem or complication for the other person’s point
    • States a different POV and backs it up with evidence and examples
    • Makes connections to relevant personal experiences
    • Is courteous to others in tone
    • Respects that classrooms are places where we “try on” ideas and thus their peers are not defined by the viewpoints expressed there
  • I will post discussion topics to the board on occasion, but you should not wait for my service as online guide. Finally, the Fair Use exception covers most academic uses of copyrighted material if they are posted to the course web site.
  • Every assignment should be completed. The texts assigned for this course includes articles providing an historical background, cultural and media theory, and critical responses to the films screened in class. Please have your reading completed for discussion during the listed date. Optional reading assignments are just that: optional. Viewing assignments should be completed by the listed date, as that class asks students to make close readings of that work.
  • You’ll be expected to write a critical summary paper summarizing one reading or viewing assignment for each class. Select ONE reading or film/episode/game assigned to be due for that class. (So, do not do critical summaries for works screened in class or for readings not due the day of the critical summary.) These assignments shouldn’t be more than a page in length single-spaced. Submit a copy online to the course web site and bring a hard copy to class for you to consult during discussion and submit at the end of class. These assignments shouldn’t be more than a page in length. Submit a copy online to the course web site and bring a copy to class for you to consult during discussion.

 

How to Write Critical Summaries on the Readings

 

Name:

Reading used:

 

Section 1: Thesis statement of yours or your author’s construction. One sentence.

 

Section 2: A full summary of the major arguments and impacts raised by the article. One paragraph.

 

Section 3: List three major pieces of evidence. Evidence is not what the author says. Evidence is what the author uses to persuade you of the rightness of the argument. Evidence includes examples, secondary source quotations your author uses, facts, statistics, and so on. This should never include original research. Cite your quotes with the author and the page number of the reading.

 

Section 4: Here is where you can critique the reading or ask questions prompted by your selection.

 

How to Write Critical Summaries on a Screening

 

Name:

Screening and/or Reading used:

 

Section 1: Write a thesis statement the indicates how you read the screening’s cultural, artistic, and/or industrial significance [in light of its being included in a class on disability history and representation]. ALTERNATIVELY, your thesis may apply an assigned reading to the screening. One sentence.

 

Section 2: Apply your thesis to the screening by using the plot and formal approaches to talk about the piece in its artistic, cultural, and/or industrial contexts [in light of its being included in a class on disability history and representation]. ALTERNATIVELY, you may talk about the screening in light of one of the readings, without summarizing the reading. One paragraph.

 

Section 3: List three major pieces of evidence, which includes plot examples, quotations, uses of artistic techniques, screen grabs, etc. If you’re applying a reading to the screening, pair up examples from the screening with a quotation from the article.

 

Section 4: Here is where you can critique the screening or ask questions prompted by your selection.

 

o      What’s a check plus mean? The critical summaries are graded on a three-point scale roughly corresponding to check minus (1), check (2), or check plus (3). That translates to:

  • 48 points (all check pluses) = A+
  • 44 points = A
  • 40 points = A-
  • 36 points = B+
  • 32 points (all checks) = B
  • 28 points = B-
  • 24 points = C+
  • 20 points = C
  • 16 points (all check minuses) = C-
  • 8 points = D

o      These assignments will NOT be accepted after the class in which they are due, as their function is to prompt excellent class participation and reward students for coming to class prepared. Critical summaries that are not turned in on time garner 0 points. If you have an excused absence from a class, you may submit the critical summary for that class on time on our course web site. If you’re excused and you do not submit it, it will not count against you.

There will be two take-home essay exams it will be necessary to complete. These assignments will require you to examine in-depth a media product, the treatment of a particular disability, or a philosophical/aesthetic issue relating to class content. Lucid writing, a comprehensive examination of the relevant arguments, and persuasive critical insight into those arguments are necessary for excellent marks on these assignments. Outside research, while appreciated, is not necessary for excellent results.

Required Texts:

  • Leonard J. Davis (ed.) The Disability Studies Reader. Third edition.
  • Doris Zames Fleischer and Frieda Zames, The Disability Rights Movement: From Charity to Confrontation. Updated edition.
  • Robert Whitaker, Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America.
  • Larry Gross, Up From Invisibility: Lesbians, Gay Men, and the Media in America.
  • Gary Albrecht, Katherine Delores Seelman, and Michael Bury, eds. Handbook of Disability Studies.
  • All of these texts are on reserve in the library and may have cheaper e-editions available online.
  • All other texts labeled “on reserve” means that they are available through the library reserves and databases. For those students who prefer a more convenient source, I have prepared a course pack for purchase.

 

Optional Texts:

  • Alan Gartner and Tom Joe, eds. Images of the Disabled, Disabling Images.
  • Mairian Corker and Sally French, eds. Disability Discourse.
  • Larry Gross and James D. Woods, eds. The Columbia Reader on Lesbians and Gay Men in Media, Society, and Politics.
  • All of these texts are on reserve in the library and a course pack is being prepared.

 

Grading Policy:

Your grade will be contingent on the completion of the following parts of this course:

  • class participation (20%)
  • critical summary papers (20%) including extra credit assignments
  • midterm take-home exam (30%)
  • final take-home exam (30%)

 

Course Schedule:

 

“One of Us”: When the Monstrous Other Gazes Back

 

1/16:    Freaks (Tod Browning, 1932) 64 min.

 

1/21:    No classes due to MLK day

 

1/23:             Discussion and lecture

 

Readings due 1/23:

  • Garland-Thomas, Rosemarie, “Beholding,” The Disability Studies Reader. p. 199-208.
  • David L. Braddock and Susan L. Parish, “An Institutional History of Disability,” Handbook of Disability Studies. p. 11-39. (part of the chapter)
  • Linton, Simi. “Reassigning Meaning,” The Disability Studies Reader. p. 223-236.

 

Assignments due 1/23:

  • Critical summary of ONE of the articles.

 

The Melodramatic Body

 

1/28:    The Miracle Worker (Arthur Penn, 1962) 106 min.

 

Readings due 1/28:

  • Doris Zames Fleischer and Frieda Zames, “‘Wheelchair Bound’ and ‘The Poster Child’,” The Disability Rights Movement: From Charity to Confrontation. p. 1-13.
  • Emmanuelle Laborit, “Selections from The Cry of the Gull,” The Disability Studies Reader. p. 599-618.
  • Sally French, “The wind gets in my way,” Disability Discourse. (eds. Mairian Corker and Sally French). p. 21-27. [ON RESERVE in the library]

 

Assignments due 1/28:

  • NONE

 

1/30:             Discussion and lecture

 

Readings due 1/30:

  • Douglas Baynton, “‘A Silent Exile on the Earth’: The Metaphorical Construction of Deafness in the 19th Century,” The Disability Studies Reader. p. 33-51.
  • Doris Zames Fleischer and Frieda Zames, “Seeing by Touch, Hearing by Sign,” The Disability Rights Movement: From Charity to Confrontation. p. 14-32.
  • Harlan Lane, “Construction of Deafness,” The Disability Studies Reader. p. 77-93.

 

Assignments due 1/30:

  • Critical summary of ONE of the articles due 1/28 or 1/30.

 

Cultural Colonialism and Deaf World

 

2/4:             Discussion and lecture

 

Readings due 2/4:

  • Brenda Brueggemann, “Interlude 1: On (Almost) Passing,” The Disability Studies Reader. p. 209-219.
  • Watch Children of a Lesser God (Randa Haines, 1986) 119 min. [AT LIBRARY]
  • Robert E. Johnson, Scott K. Liddell, Carol J. Erting, “Unlocking the Curriculum: Principles for Achieving Access in Deaf Education,” 1-23. [ON RESERVE on the web site]

 

Assignments due 2/4:

  • Critical summary of ONE of the articles or of the film.

 

The Practice of Erasure: War and Disability

 

2/6:      The Best Years of Our Lives (William Wyler, 1946) 168 min. (clips)

Discussion and lecture

 

Readings due 2/6:

  • Doris Zames Fleischer and Frieda Zames, “Deinstitutionalization and Independent Living” and “Disability Rights in the 21st Century” (selections), The Disability Rights Movement: From Charity to Confrontation. p. 33-48, 221-225.
  • Doris Zames Fleischer and Frieda Zames, “Disabled Veterans Claim Their Rights” and “Disability Rights in the 21st Century” (selections), The Disability Rights Movement: From Charity to Confrontation. p. 170-183, 236-40.

 

Assignments due 2/6:

  • Critical summary of ONE of the readings.

 

2/11: Discussion and lecture

 

Readings due 2/11:

  • Watch Coming Home (Hal Ashby, 1978) 127 min. [AT LIBRARY]
  • David L. Braddock and Susan L. Parish, “An Institutional History of Disability,” Handbook of Disability Studies. p. 39-54. (part of the chapter)
  • Doris Zames Fleischer and Frieda Zames, “Groundbreaking Civil Rights Legislation: Section 504,” The Disability Rights Movement: From Charity to Confrontation. p. 49-70.

 

Assignments due 2/11:

  • Critical summary of ONE of the articles or of the film.

 

Structural Models of Disability in Theory and Narrative

 

2/13: Discussion and lecture

 

Readings due 2/13:

  • Leonard Kriegel, “The Cripple in Literature,” Images of the Disabled, Disabling Images, p. 31-46. [ON RESERVE at the library]
  • Paul K. Longmore, “Screening Stereotypes: Images of Disabled People in Television and Motion Pictures,” Images of the Disabled, Disabling Images, p. 65-78. [ON RESERVE at the library]
  • Dan Goodley, “Introduction: Global Disability Studies,” 1-21. http://www.sagepub.com/upm-data/36539_01_Goodley_Ch_01.pdf
  • Tom Shakespeare, “The Social Model of Disability,” The Disability Studies Reader. p. 266-273.

 

Assignments due 2/13:

  • Critical summary of ONE of the articles.

 

2/18: No classes due to Presidents Day

 

The Ties That Bind:

Disability, Authenticity, and the Family

 

2/20: Discussion and lecture

 

Readings due 2/20:

  • Watch What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? (Lasse Hallstrom, 1993) 118 min. [AT LIBRARY and streaming on netflix]
  • Phillip M. Ferguson, “Mapping the Family: Disability Studies and the Exploration of Parental Response to Disability,” Handbook of Disability Studies. p. 373-395.
  • Carrie Sandahl, “The Tyranny of Neutral,” Bodies in Commotion. p. 255-267. [an e-book accessible through the library’s web site; look up the book by title]

 

Assignments due 2/20:

  • Critical summary of ONE of the articles or of the film.

 

2/21 (Thursday):             Lives Worth Living (Eric Neudel, 2011) clips     

 

Readings due 2/21:

  • Fleischer, Doris Zames and Frieda Zames, “The Americans with Disabilities Act” and “Disability Rights in the 21st Century” (selections), The Disability Rights Movement: From Charity to Confrontation. p. 88-109, 216-221.
  • Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities,  “The Effect of the Supreme Court’s Decisions on Americans with Disabilities,” p. 1-14 [on the web site]

 

Assignments due 2/21:

  • Critical summary of ONE of the articles.

 

A View Askew:

Disability from a Global Perspective

 

2/25:    The Singing Detective (Dennis Potter, 1986) 70 min.

 

Readings due 2/25:

  • Michael Davidson, “Universal Design: The Work of Disability in an Age of Globalization,” The Disability Studies Reader. p. 117-130.
  • Kay Schriner, “A Disability Studies Perspective on Employment Issues and Policies for Disabled People: An International View,” Handbook of Disability Studies. p. 642-662.

 

Assignments due 2/25:

  • NONE
  • Midterm take-home exam posted to course web site

 

2/27:    La petite vendeuse de Soleil (Jibril Diop Mambety, 1999) 45 min.

 

Readings due 2/27:

  • Benedicte Ingstad, “Disability in the Developing World,” Handbook of Disability Studies. p. 772-792.
  • Patrick Devlieger, “Why Disabled? The Cultural Understanding of Disability in an African Society,” Disability and Culture, (eds. Benedicte Ingstad, Susan Reynolds Whyte), p. 94-106. [ON RESERVE at the library]

 

Assignments due 2/27:

  • Critical summary of ONE of the articles due 2/25 or 2/27.

 

3/4 and 3/6: No classes due to spring break

 

“Not Dead Yet”:

The Right to Take Risks

 

3/11:             Murderball (Henry Alex Rubin and Dana Adam Shapiro, 2005) 88 min.

 

Readings due 3/11:

  • Fleischer, Doris Zames and Frieda Zames, “Access to Jobs and Health Care,” The Disability Rights Movement: From Charity to Confrontation. p. 110-131.

 

Assignments due 3/11:

  • Take home midterm exam due. There is no critical summary due.

 

3/13: Discussion and lecture

 

Readings due 3/13:

  • Ruth Hubbard, “Abortion and Disability: Who Should and Should Not Inhabit the World?,” The Disability Studies Reader. p. 107-119.
  • Marsha Saxton, “Disability Rights and Selective Abortion,” The Disability Studies Reader. p. 120-132.

 

Assignments due 3/13:

  • Critical summary on one of the readings due 3/11 or 3/13.

 

3/18:    Wit (Mike Nichols, 2001) 99 min. (Notice: graphic cancer content)

 

Readings due 3/18:

  • Fleischer, Doris Zames and Frieda Zames, “Not Dead Yet and Physician Assisted Suicide” and “Disability Rights in the 21st Century” (selections), The Disability Rights Movement: From Charity to Confrontation. p. 132-149, 228-232.

 

Assignments due 3/13:

  • NONE.

 

 “Death with Dignity”:

Assisted Suicide and the Right to Choose

 

3/20: lecture and discussion

 

Readings due 3/20:

 

Assignments due 3/20:

  • Critical summary of one of the readings due 3/18 or 3/20.

 

3/20: MIDTERM GRADES SUBMITTED

 

Krazy Kripples:

Disability and Laughter

 

3/25:    How’s Your News? (Arthur Bradford, 1999) 82 min.

 

Readings due 3/25:

  • Daniel Docherty, Richard Hughes, Patricia Phillips, David Corbett, Brendan Regan, Andrew Barber, Michael Adams, Kathy Boxall, Ian Kaplan, and Shayma Izzidien, “This Is What We Think,” The Disability Studies Reader. p. 432-440
  • Trevor R. Parmenter, “Intellectual Disabilities—Quo Vadis?,” Handbook of Disability Studies. p. 267-296.

 

Assignments due 3/25:

  • NONE

 

Outsider Music and Unusual Beauties

 

3/27:    Songs in the Key of Z (Irwin Chusid, 2000) selections

 

Readings due 3/27:

  • Watch “Wheels”, the ninth episode of the first season of Glee (Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuck, Ian Brennan, 2009-present) [at library and streaming on Netflix]
  • David Kociemba, “‘This isn’t something I can fake’: Reactions to Glee‘s representations of disability.” Transformative Works and Cultures, no. 5. http://journal.transformativeworks.org/index.php/twc/article/view/225/185

 

Assignments due 3/27:

  • Critical summary of one of the articles or the episode due on 3/25 or 3/27.

 

Neurodiversity and The Superhero

 

4/1:      Lecture and discussion

 

Readings due 4/1:

  • Watch “Rosetta,” episode 4 of season one of Alphas (Zak Penn and Michael Karnow, 2011-present) [on reserve at library and streaming on Netflix]
  • Joseph N. Straus, “Autism as Culture,” The Disability Studies Reader. p. 535-559.
  • Judy Singer, “’Why can’t you be normal for once in your life?’ From a ‘problem with no name’ to the emergence of a new category of difference,” Disability Discourse. (eds. Mairian Corker and Sally French). p. 59-67. [ON RESERVE at the library]

 

Assignments due 4/1:

  • Critical summary of ONE of the articles or the episode.

 

A Mad Fight

 

4/3:      Titicut Follies (Frederick Wiseman, 1967) 84 min.

 

Readings due 4/3:

  • Bradley Lewis, “A Mad Fight: Psychiatry and Disability Activism,” The Disability Studies Reader. p. 160-176.
  • Robert Whitaker, “Blueprints for Reform,” Anatomy of an Epidemic, p. 331-359.
  • Robert Whitaker, “Anecdotal Thoughts,” Anatomy of an Epidemic, p. 12-35.
  • Robert Whitaker, “Suffer the Children,” Anatomy of an Epidemic, p. 247-260.

 

Assignments due 4/3:

  • NONE

 

4/8: Lecture and discussion

 

Readings due 4/8:

 

Assignments due 4/8:

  • Critical summary of ONE of the readings due 4/3 or 4/8.

 

ADHD and Loving it?!

 

4/10:             “Timmy 2000” (South Park, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, 1997-present)

 

Readings due 4/10:

  • Doris Zames Fleischer and Frieda Zames, “Education: Integration in the Least Restrictive Environment,” The Disability Rights Movement: From Charity to Confrontation. p. 184-199.
  • Robert Whitaker, “The Bi-polar Boom,” Anatomy of an Epidemic, p. 172-204.
  • Robert Whitaker, “The Epidemic Spreads to Children,” Anatomy of an Epidemic, p. 216-246.

 

Assignments due 4/10:

  • Critical summary of ONE of the articles.
  • Final take home exam posted to course web site.

 

4/15: No classes due to Patriots Day

 

Of Human Bondage:

Disability and Desire

 

4/17:    Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist (Kirby Dick, 1997) 89 min. (notice: graphic body piercing content)

 

Readings due 4/17:

  • Cheryl Marie Wade, “I Am Not One of the” and “Cripple Lullaby,” The Disability Studies Reader. p. 592-3.
  • Kenny Fries, “Beauty and Variations,” The Disability Studies Reader. p. 594-5.
  • Mark O’Brien, “On Seeing a Sex Surrogate,” http://www.disabled.gr/lib/?p=7988
  • Fleischer, Doris Zames and Frieda Zames, “Identity and Culture” and “Disability Rights in the 21st Century” (selections), The Disability Rights Movement: From Charity to Confrontation. p. 200-215, 232-236.

 

Assignments due 4/17:

  • NONE

 

4/19 (Friday):             Discussion and lecture

 

Readings due 4/19:

  • Dawn Reynolds, “Disability and BDSM: Bob Flanagan and the case for sexual rights,” Sexuality research & social policy. vol:4 iss:1 (2007): pg:40
  • Eli Clare, “Stones in My Pocket, Stones in My Heart,” The Disability Studies Reader. p. 563-572.
  • Davis, Leonard J. “Constructing Normalcy,” The Disability Studies Reader. p. 3-16.

 

Assignments due 4/19:

  • Critical summary of ONE the readings due 4/17 or 4/19.

 

AIDS and Its Metaphors

 

4/22:             Longtime Companion (Norman Rene, 1990) 96 min.

 

Readings due 4/22:

  • Larry Gross, “AIDS and the Media,” Up from Invisibility, p. 94-109.
  • Larry Gross, “Journalism’s Closet Opens,” Up from Invisibility, p. 110-130.
  • Larry Gross and James D. Woods, eds. The Columbia Reader on Lesbians and Gay Men in Media, Society, and Politics. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999. p. 153-162, 169-179, 185-189, 207-217. (ON RESERVE and on course web site)

 

Assignments due 4/22:

  • NONE

 

4/24:             Discussion and lecture

 

Readings due 4/24:

  • Larry Gross, “Breaking the Code of Silence,” Up from Invisibility, p. 131-142.
  • Larry Gross, “Hollywood Under Pressure,” Up from Invisibility, p. 143-155.
  • Fleischer, Doris Zames and Frieda Zames, “Disability Rights in the 21st Century” (selections), The Disability Rights Movement: From Charity to Confrontation. p. 240-253.

 

Assignments due 4/24:

  • NONE

 

5/1: Exam class from 3:30-5:30 pm MANDATORY CLASS MEETING

 

Assignments due 5/1:

  • Final exam due.

 

5/6: Grades due at noon

 

This entry was posted in Media and Identity, Syllabi and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply