Wednesday, March 15, 2006


Disability Studies, like analogous diversity studies (i.e., Women’s Studies and African American Studies), always refers ‘disability’ back to the historical and social contexts that condition its significance. Our curriculum at Temple University consistently challenges the still widespread that notion that the statuses and roles of individuals with disability are the inevitable product of physical or psychological limitations.

We can think of no better ambassador for this view, and for our program, than Dr. Simi Linton, a consistent champion for an academic field where the collective voices of persons with disabilities and their allies inform the content and become vehicles of instruction.
She is the author of My Body Politic, and Claiming Disability: Knowledge and Identity, as well as numerous articles on disability studies, and disability and the arts.

Simi Linton is co-director of the University Seminar in Disability Studies at Columbia University, and the Spring 2006 Visiting Presidential Scholar at Hofstra University. In 1998 Dr. Linton founded Disability/Arts, a consulting practice that provides services to arts organizations, museums, theater companies, and film and television producers.

In 1998 Dr. Linton founded Disability/Arts, a consulting practice that provides services to arts organizations, museums, theater companies, and film and television producers. Projects include consultation with the Smithsonian, the National Endowment for the Arts, The Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley, The Margaret Mead Film and Video Festival, The Non-Traditional Casting Project, state and regional arts councils, and documentary filmmakers. In 2005, Disability/Arts co-produced three events on disability and theatre at the Public Theater and at Columbia University, and have several more planned for 2006.

Dr. Linton left her faculty position in 1998 as Associate Professor of Psychology in the Division of Education at Hunter College, after fourteen years of teaching. Over the past several years, she has delivered numerous lectures at colleges, universities and cultural institutions on disability studies as a field, and disability and the arts. She conducts faculty development seminars on disability studies, consults on the development of curricula and academic programs, and produces cultural events.

I wish to thank everyone who attended the Mini Course presentation by Simi Linton, entitled "Approaching Disability Through the Arts"!

Featured Artists and their Works:

Simi Linton, My Body Politic (University of Michigan Press, 2006). Click here for a 30% off coupon.
In her new book, Simi Linton, a widely recognized New York disability activist and scholar 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.'

Shelley Barry, "Whole: A Trinity of Being"; we viewed the third segment, called "Entry." Shelley is a Temple University MFA student. Her work has been a favorite at disability film festivals last year, and has recently received its 4th international award (Jury Citation, at the 25th Black Maria Film and Video Festival, New Jersey City University, 2039 Kennedy Boulevard, Jersey City, NJ 07305). Copies of the work are available from the artist. Email: twospinningwheels AT

Sharon Snyder, "Self-Preservation: The Art of Riva Lehrer", featuring the commentary of Disability Studies scholars Tobin Seibers, Rosemarie Garland Thomson and Carrie Sandahl. The portraits were part of Riva's 'Circle Series': #1, Jeff Carpenter; #2, Bill Shannon; #3, Susan Nussbaum, #5, Mike Ervine and Anna Stonum, #6, Tekki Lomnicki; and #10, Eli Claire, amongst others. Contact the directors directly to secure copies of the DVD, ssnyder AT & dmitchel AT

Homer Avila, a world renowned dancer and choreographer who continued performing even after doctors amputated his cancerous right leg and hip. We viewed rough videos of his practices and live performances, shot before his death on May 06, 2004.

To learn more about the academic field of Disability Studies, Simi Linton recommends that you visit the website of the Society for Disability Studies. We also hope to see some of you at the upcoming Annual Meeting of the society, from June 14 - 17, 2006 in Bethesda, Maryland.

Further Artist Information:

We extend thanks to the following Temple University organizations and individuals who offered financial support for today's event:

+ the following local arts organizations for their support:

In Fall 2006, the Temple University's Graduate Certificate Program will once again offering our course DS 400: Disability Rights and Culture, where we explore the issues raised in the Mini Course in far greater depth. Please consider enrolling in this class, and get in touch with Mike Dorn and Carol Marfisi if you would like more information on the curriculum.


Penny L. Richards said...

Thanks for this, Mike--the new opening paragraph is excellent wording, a clear, concise explanation of "disability studies" (and you know I'm looking for those these days).

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