Monday, February 20, 2006

What's hot? Disability Studies

The weather may be cold but the excitement is heating up at Temple. The Institute on Disabilities' Graduate Certificate Program is once again offering our course DS 400: Disability Rights and Culture. This time is course is being held at the Temple University Center City campus (TUCC). The new environment is very stimulating as we have the opportunity to network and converse with new students and faculty, including non-traditional students. We use this Center City platform to inform folks about a broad range of disability issues, and how they may relate to their discipline, careers and lives in general.

The students are simply awesome, but I know I say that every semester. This semester, in particular, we have a class with a lot of synergy and personality. The students from various backgrounds and disciplines provide the co-instructors with robust perspectives and questions. It is certainly a high energy class where the students do not have to be prodded to offer their opinions and experiences.

We are using My Body Politic (University of Michigan Press, 2006) by Simi Linton, a widely recognized New York disability activist and scholar, as one of our core texts this semester. It was so gratifying to hear the students discuss their experience reading her work, so engrossed that they literally couldn't put it down. Simi offers a kaleidoscopic overview of the experiences and friends who shaped her life since experiencing impairments at the age of 23. She writes in poignant, colorful details about how gradually became aware of the social and political, as well as personal, challenges faced by people who are marginalized in society for reasons tied to 'disability.'

The Institute on Disabilities will be hosting Simi Linton as the next event in our Mini Course Series in Disabilities. Simi will be presenting on the topic "Reframing Disability Through the Arts" from 9:30 am to noon on Wednesday, March 14 at the Student Center on the Temple University Main Campus. Free of charge; advance reservation requested. We would like to thank the Center for the Humanities at Temple and the School of Communications and Theater for their generous sponsorship.

Dr. Linton will be offering a personal introduction to the field, reading from her book and screening several key recent works of disability culture: Temple MFA student Shelley Barry's "Whole: A Trinity of Being," [a favorite at disability film festivals last year]; the most recent video by Sharon Snyder and David Mitchell "Self-Preservation: The Art of Riva Lehrer"; and documentation from the performances of dancer Homer Avila. For more information on these works, see the 'Artist Biographies' listing below.

Simi Linton and her publisher have organized additional events in conjunction with her visit. At 12:00 noon Tuesday, March 14, Simi will offering a book reading and book signing at the Free Library of Philadelphia. Click here to download a flier in PDF for this event, and here for a 30% off coupon to be used when ordering the book through the University of Michigan Press website.

As a person with a disability, as well as an instructor for DS 400: Disability Rights and Culture, it is inspiring to follow these developments on campus, and to offer my insights into the ever-evolving discourse of the field. These recent events only serve to reinforce how all facets of one's professional and personal life can be enlightened by the various theories and historical experiences represented in this young academic field.

Artist Biographies:

Sponsors of 'Reframing Disability Through the Arts' Mini Course:

Local Arts Organizations Supporting Simi Linton's Visit:

Directions to Event Locations: