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Evolving Syllabus

Kristin's picture


Health Studies 304                    Prof. Kristin Lindgren

Tuuesday 7:30-10                     VCAM 102                                    Office: Stokes 118 IA 



In this course, students will engage with recent work in critical disability studies across a range of humanistic disciplines, including literary studies, visual studies, history, and philosophy. Drawing on these varied disciplinary perspectives, we will explore how disability theory and engaged community practice inform and shape one another. Along the way, we will discuss the historical and theoretical development of the ideas of normalcy and disability; questions around ethical engagement and inclusive design; the growth of disability arts and culture; and the relationship between disability, access, and exhibition practices. In consultation with the instructor, students will also draw up an independent reading list that will shape their final project. The course includes a semester-long project in partnership with the Center for Creative Works (CCW), a studio and teaching space in Wynnewood, PA, for artists with intellectual and developmental disabilities. This project will involve weekly meetings, alternately at Haverford and CCW, and occasional field trips. It will culminate in an exhibition at Haverford at the end of the semester. Students will contribute weekly reading responses and project notes; complete a mid-semester essay and final course project, and participate in developing the CCW partnership. The syllabus will evolve and change as we go, based on collaborative decisions about what we what to learn and how we want to learn it.



I invite you to talk with me early in the semester about how you learn best and how we can make our classroom and class projects as accessible and generative for you and others as possible. If you would like to request accommodations in this course, please meet with Sherrie Borowsky (, Coordinator of the Office of Access and Disability Services, or with the coordinator of your campus’s office. As a class, we will try to enact principles of universal design. Let’s create a more inclusive and accessible world! 



A notebook, aka repository of ideas, musings, sketches, and responses of many kinds
to our CCW partnership and PACC collaboration. Your notebook can be physical or digital.

Readings for the course will be made available as pdf's on Serendip as we proceed.

We will also be using these books:

Eli Clare, Exile and Pride (bookstore, library, e-version available via Tripod )
Lennard J. Davis, ed. The Disability Studies Reader (bookstore, library, e-version available via Tripod)
Kim Nielsen, A Disability History of the United States (bookstore, library)
Susan Nussbaum, Good Kings, Bad Kings (bookstore, library, audiobook via Tripod)



I expect us to create, collectively, an inclusive learning community in which each one of us, both in the classroom and in our larger PACC/CWW collaboration, can teach and learn joyfully and effectively. To this end, I ask for your attentive presence in four spaces: our classroom; the PACC/CCW collaborative events and Tumblr blog; our online course space Serendip; and your notebook. Assignments include weekly notebook entries, occasional Serendip and Tumblr posts, a mid-semester project, a final project, and participation in PACC/CCW events, including planning our end-of-semester exhibition.



I use a portfolio grading process, in which I ask you to submit a portfolio of your work at the end of the semester. The portfolio will include your mid-semester and final projects, your notebook, your Serendip and Tumblr posts, and a checklist of the work for the course. The checklist includes, for example, weekly notebook entries, weekly participation in the CCW partnership, individual meetings with me, and two work-in-progress presentations. I will also ask for a 2-3 page informal reflection on your learning in the course. You will receive individual grades on your mid-semester project, your final project, and your partnership notebook. Your final course grade will be holistic, based on these three graded projects and your portfolio as a whole. Please talk to me if you have questions or concerns about grading.




January 23

Introductions and overview of the course

Samantha Mitchell, our PACC artist-in-residence and Arts & Exhibitions
Coordinator at CCW, will join us to discuss the PACC/CCW partnership and
begin thinking through the schedule and logistics

Friday, January 26, 2 PM: CCW artists present their work, VCAM 201



January 30

Reading: Simi Linton, Claiming Disability: Knowledge and Identity (pdf): Foreword (by Michael Berube); Chapter 1, "Reclamation;" Chapter 2, "Reassigning Meaning" (37 pages in all)

Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, “Becoming Disabled” (4 pages)

Eli Clare, excerpts from Exile and Pride: Preface to 2009 edition (5 pages), “The Mountain (13 pages),” and Part ii: Bodies (80 pages) (98 pages in all)

Stella Young: I'm Not Your Inspiration, Thank You Very Much (9 minutes)

Serendip: Create a username and upload an image. 

Visit CCW for a tour and introductions. 



February 6

Reading: Mia Mingus, "Access Intimacy: The Missing Link" (blog post, 2 pages)

Jay Dolmage, "Universal Design: Places to Start" in Disability Studies Quarterly (5 pages plus linked Wiki)

Jay Dolmage, Introduction to Academic Ableism: Disability and Higher Education (excerpt, pages 1-11, pdf)

Interview with Matthew Higgs and Lisa Sonneborn, "Sometimes We Need to Get Uncomfortable" (4 pages)

Disparate Minds, "Progressive Practices: The Basics" (blog post, about 4 pages)

Nathaniel Rich, "A Training Ground for Untrained Artists: Creative Growth Art Center" NYT Magazine 12/16/15 (about 8 pages)

Philip Ferguson: "Winks, Blinks, Squints, and Twitches: Looking for Disability and Culture through My Son's Left Eye" Chapman University Digital Commons and pdf (21 pages)

G. Thomas Couser, “Auto/Biographical, Biomedical, and Ethnographic Ethics,” in Vulnerable Subjects  (pdf, 19 pages)
Couser is writing about ethical collaboration in a different context, life writing, but I'd like us to discuss how biomedical and ethnographic models of ethical engagement might be releveant to our course collaboration. 

Notebook: Create a cover, or if you're creating a digital notebook, a cover page. List seven things you did and seven things you noticed during your visit to CCW. These can be very small things! Then develop one or more of these things into a written reflection, a drawing, a poem, a collage, or another mode of reflecting on your experience. You will do this every week, and you should include reflections on other events (talks, fieldtrips) associated with the PACC/CCW partnership. Please keep a log, perhaps on the last page of the notebook, of the time you spent each week on partnership activities; this will help you keep on track with spending an average of 2-3 hours a week on related activities. The notebook will form a creative and concrete representation of your weekly engagement with the partnership. Please bring your notebook to class each week, as you'll be sharing entries with other students. 

CCW artists visit Haverford.  



February 13

Class: Kim Nielsen, A Disability History of the United States (183 pages)

TW: Some positive stories, but lots of ugly and traumatic disability history. 

I recommend reading it in small chunks, as it's a lot to take in. As you read, think about how disability was defined at different historical moments, who was charged with caring for those who needed care, and how disability intersects in different times and places with gender, race, class, and other identity markers. Find a particular thread to follow: for example, the intersection of gender and disability, or changing conceptions of intellectual disability, or the role of institutions, or whatever especially engages your interest as you read. Then reflect on this thread in your Serendip post. 

Notebook: Seven things you did at CCW, seven things you noticed, plus expanded reflection on one or more of these things. 

Serendip post reflecting on some aspect of the reading and posing some questions to discuss in class. We won't be able to discuss everything, but your posts will give us some places to begin.

Students go to CCW. 



February 20

Class: Lennard J. Davis, "Introduction: Normality, Power, and Culture" The Disability Studies Reader (DSR) (12 dense pages) 

Margaret Price, Introduction to Mad at School (pdf) (25 pages)

Chris Gabbard, "A Life Beyond ReasonThe Chronicle of Higher Education (4 pages)

Harriet McBryde Johnson, "Unspeakable Conversations" in DSR and also via pdf, 28 page 
(The pdf contains additional chapters; feel free to read them if you wish, but we will focus on "Unspeakable Conversations," which is about her encounters with philosopher Peter Singer and ties into our focus on reason).

Peter Singer, "Taking Life: (pdf, 10 pages) 

Optional, for those who want to follow up on last week's reading: Douglas C. Baynton, "Disability and the Justification of Inequality in American History," also in DSR (14 dense pages)  

Serendip post in response to one or more of the readings

Notebook: Seven things!

Schedule individual meetings with Kristin for this week or next week 



February 27

Individual meetings with Kristin this week 

Artist Kaitlin Pomerantz will visit our class to talk about the history of the term "Outsider Art" and about what constitutes this kind of art 

Melanie Yergeau, “Clinically Significant Disturbance: On Theorists Who Theorize Theory of Mind,” in Disability Studies Quarterly (19 pages)

Melanie Yergeau, "I Stim, Therefore I Am" (3 minutes)

In Nick Walker's blog, Neurocosmopolitanism:


      "Neurodiversity: Some Basic Terms and Definitions"

      "Neuroqueer: An Introduction"

Mel Baggs "In My Language" (8 minutes)

Ibby Grace, Neuroqueer blog:  "Are you Neuroqueer?"

Julia Bascom, Just Stimming blog, "Quiet Hands"

The Loud Hands Project (3 minutes)


S#!IT Ignorant People Say to Autistics

If you have specific questions about autism I suggest you check out the youtube series "Ask An Autistic."For example: "What is Stimming?"

Serendip post in response to one or more of the readings or viewings

Notebook: 7 things, 7 things!

Thursday, March 1: 7:15 PM, screening of the film Deej in Chase Auditorium
If you can't join us for the screening, please watch the film at another time
I will put it on reserve, and perhaps you can plan another small group screening



March 6

You will each have 8-10 minutes for a conversation about your mid-semester project. (About 4-5 minutes for you to talk, and another 4-5 minutes for discussion). This is not a formal presentation; it is an opportunity to talk about work-in-progress with your classmates. Nonetheless, you need to plan your time carefully. Please give us a sense of the main questions or ideas that motivate your project and the methods & materials you are using to explore these questions. If you are including drawings, images, film clips, or other materials, it would be great to see an example or two-- you can pass things around, or you can project images on the screen. Finally, tell your classmates something you're still struggling with/trying to work out, and ask for ideas and feedback.

By the end of the day on Friday, March 9th (with a grace period over the following few days), please upload your project to Serendip. You can also email me a project separately if you wish, or give me a hard copy/material version. Before our first class *after* spring break, I'd like you to read/view at least three of your classmates' projects. Read them all if you have time! Please post a comment on one or more, including one that no one has yet commented on, by Friday, March 23rd. 

No need to post on Serendip this week.

Wednesday March 7th, 7 PM

Neurodiversity in Contemporary Art w/Disparate Minds
RESCHEDULED: now Thursday, March 8
4:30-6 PM
VCAM 201

Disparate Minds co-founders Tim Ortiz and Andreana Donahue discuss current concerns at the intersection of art and disability studies while highlighting neurodivergent artists’ contributions to the contemporary art discourse. In the interest of progressing past trends in writing and exhibition typically associated with the now obsolete Outsider Art designation, Donahue and Ortiz trace a gradual paradigm shift over the past twenty years - the convergence of artists making work in facilitated art studios with an increasingly pluralistic art world. 



More details about Serendip postings: I will ask you to post on Serendip eight weeks out of the fourteen weeks of the semester. If you miss a week, you can post a response to another course event (e.g. a film or a talk), a CCW experience, or a reflection on an article, artwork, film, etc, that is related to our course material. A full and thoughtful response to someone else's posting also counts as a response, and some weeks I will ask you to do this. So: I would like you to post at least 8 times on Serendip over the semester (your mid-term and final projects will bring this to 10) but your postings can take a variety of forms. Sometimes there will be just a general prompt and sometimes a more specific one. If you have other ideas about how we can engage on Serendip effectively as a class, let's discuss! At the end of the semester, part of your "portfolio" will consist of an e-portfolio (easy to create in 3 minutes) of all your Serendip postings plus your mid-semester and end-of-semester projects posted on Serendip. If you need to miss a class for any reason, I suggest creating an additional Serendip post.  



March 20

Susan Nussbaum, Good Kings, Bad Kings (294 pages but a quick read)
TW: sexual abuse, psychiatric abuse, accidental death. Also lots of humor, resilience, and resistance. 

Harriet McBryde Johnson, "The Disability Gulag" (6 pages)

Cheryl Green, In My Home (6 minutes)

In My Home with audio description (6 minutes)

Please read/view at least three of your classmates' mid-term projects on Serendip. Read them all if you have time!

Serendip: Post a response to one or more mid-term projects, including one that has not yet been commented on. Your comments do not have to be posted before class on Tuesday; they can be posted anytime this week, by Friday March 23rd. 



March 27

Viewing: Invitation to Dance, directed by Simi Linton and Christian von Tippelskirch (1 hr 25 min). On reserve in Science Library; DVD available through Tripod, also streamable via Kanopy from Bryn Mawr (but not Haverford). 

Petra Kuppers, Introduction to Disability Culture and Community Performance: Find a Strange and Twisted Shape, (Read pages 1-14, e-version available through Tripod)

Tobin Siebers, Disability Aesthetics, Chapter 1: "Introducing Disability Aesthetics" (Focus on pages 15-20 about Judith Scott; the rest of the chapter is optional)

Please bring your CCW notebook to class. 

Serendip: post a response to or reflection on Petra Kuppers's questions: "What is disability culture? Is there one, are there many? Who calls culture into being?" OR respond to and expand on someone else's post. Please try to post by 2 PM on Tuesday so that we can read and incorporate your posts into our class conversation. 



Monday April 2
Talk by Prof. Theresa Burke, Assoc. Prof. of Philosophy, Gallaudet University
VCAM Screening Room, tea at 4:15, talk at 4:30

"On Creating A Deaf Child: Parental Choice, Genetic Technology and Human Flourishing" 
Genetic engineering could be used to reduce or eradicate disability, which some regard as a source of human suffering. Yet others, including members of the signing deaf community, regard disability as a difference rather than a harm. Potential parents in this community who prefer to create deaf children express fear that human germline editing technologies, such as CRISPR, will ultimately extinguish their kind. Dr. Burke will ask whether it's morally justifiable to use such editing technologies to ensure that deaf parents can create deaf children. She begins by asking, “What is a flourishing deaf life?”

April 3

Reading: H-Dirksen L. Bauman and Joseph J. Murray, “Deaf Studies in the 21st Century: ‘Deaf-Gain’ and the Future of Human Diversity, in DSR, 242-255 (9 dense pages plus notes).

H-Dirksen L. Bauman, "Designing Deaf Babies and the Question of Disability," pdf (5 pages)

Viewing: documentary film Deaf Jam (1 hour, 10 min) On reserve in Science Library; streamable via Kanopy at Bryn Mawr (but not Haverford). 

Please bring your CCW notebooks to class. 

Serendip: Post a question or response to the talk/reading/viewing before class OR post a response to reading/viewing/discussion after class.

Browse these sites, with thanks to Fiona for the suggestions!

There's an interpreter named Matt Maxey who I follow from DEAFinitely Dope, who's most famous for his onstage interpreting of Chance the Rapper.  Here's an article on him (it's long but easy to read, and has lots of videos and GIFs).

Matt Maxey

There are also some funny youtubers, Ben and Andy, who have a channel called CODA Brothers.  They have hilarious sketches and shows where they discuss best and worst interpreters, funny deaf culture stories from their childhood, "deaf driving", and so on.  

CODA Brothers channel

 Another great youtube channel is Deafies in Drag, who mainly do slapstick comedy/funny skits/makeup tutorials, but also have some great entertaining lessons on Deaf culture and their experiences.  My two favorites would be "Expectation vs. Reality:  Deaf People" and "#DeafiesProblems".

Deafies in Drag

 Lastly here is a long, but amazing, video on deaf talent, a dinner hosted by Chef Sesma (on youtube).  His guests talk about all kinds of intersectional issues that affect the Deaf community. 

#DeafTalent Dinner Party 

Wednesday April 4
Talk/Performance by Leroy Moore, poet, activist, and music archivist
7-8:30 PM, Campus Center, Bryn Mawr
"Being Black and Disabled Under a Police State"
From Slavery to Jim Crow to Ugly Laws to Institutionalization to Reaganism to Gentrification to BLM to Surveillance, Being Black and Disabled Under a Police State:How the State Reacted and Still Reacts to Black Disabled Bodies and Minds. Using Poetry, Songs, Visual Images, Historical Facts, News Articles, and Lecture. 

Thursday April 5
Talk by Gene Mirus, Assoc. Professor of Deaf Studies and ASL, Gallaudet University
8 PM, Bond Hall, Swarthmore College
"Deaf and Gay: A Quiet View of Intersectionality"
Deaf and gay: how the identities do and don't align and what each of these minority identities means from the perspective of the other. 
Presentation in ASL with voice interpretation



April 10

Eli Clare, "Introduction," "Thinking about Trigger Warnings," 
and Chapter 1, "Ideology of Cure," in Brilliant Imperfection, (e-book on Tripod, 20 pages total)

Erika Check Hayden,"Tomorrow's Children: What would genome editing really mean for future generations?"
Nature, vol 530. Also in pdf. (about 5 pages)

Ben Mattlin, "Cure Me? No Thanks"  NY Times 3/22/17

Keri Cronin, "Modern Eugenics: A Disability Theory Perspective on CRISPR"

Three optional longer articles: choose one or more if you wish:

Teresa Blankmeyer Burke, "Bioethics and the Deaf Community, in Signs and Voices (pdf, 11 pages) 

Shawna Benston, "CRISPR: A Crossroads in Genetic Intervention: Pitting the Right to Health against the Right to Disability" Laws 2016 5 (1) (about 15 pages)

Michael Berube, "The Meaning of Life," from Life as Jamie Knows It (pdf, 30 pages)

Instead of a Serendip post, do a little thinking & preparation for your chosen role on our informal bioethics committees. 
Here are two of the three scenarios we'll discuss:

1)   Since we’ve recently done some reading and thinking about deafness and Deaf culture, let’s start by exploring further the question posed by both Dirksen Bauman and Teresa Burke: Is it ethical to use reproductive technologies (ranging from selecting a sperm donor to pre-implantation selection to CRISPR) to select against a deaf child? To select for a deaf child? To use germline editing to select for or against the trait of deafness in future generations? What are the questions and perspectives we need to consider?

2)   The parents of an intellectually disabled young adult want to consider the option of voluntary sterilization.  Their daughter has a boyfriend and has become sexually active; they are not confident that the couple will use birth control effectively and they believe that neither the daughter nor her boyfriend has the capacity to raise a child. What are the ethical questions that need to be asked if they decide to discuss the option of voluntary sterilization with their daughter and to ask a physician to perform the procedure?


We will schedule individual meetings starting next week to brainstorm about your final projects and to think about reading or other preparation.



April 17 

Carmen Papalia, “A New Model for Access in the Museum”

See links below to the guidelines offered by two high-profile, mainstream arts & exhibition spaces. Just browse these guidelines, checking out what interests you. Smaller arts organizations are often at the cutting edge of access, but the big organizations are generally the ones that produce guidelines.    

The Kennedy Center: Sensory Friendly Programming: A Guide for Performing Arts Settings (17 pages)

Smithsonian Guidelines for Accessible Exhibition Design (110 pages with Table of Contents, so you can read selectively) 

In your CCW notebooks, list/describe 7 access features you've noticed at CCW, ranging from specific art tools or techniques to different ways of imagining communication, community, temporality, productivity, and so forth.  Bring notebooks to class.

Start developing ideas for your final project, and we'll schedule individual meetings this week and next week.

Optional additions about The Accessible Icon Project: 

The Accessible Icon Project



April 24

Three seniors will give their 5-minute work-in-progress presentations this week. 

No new reading apart from individual reading related to your final project.

You can check out the examples of access strategies below if you wish. We will create a list of access tasks and you can sign up for one or more. If you find an interesting example of an access practice or an exhibition that uses access creatively, post it to Serendip, and I'll also list it here.  

Examples of Access Strategies for events (to be consulted as we plan for our exhibition)
Know Before You Go and Social Narratives for the play A Fierce Kind of Love 
Interaction Badges, ASAN (Autistic Self-Advocacy Network)
The Senses: Design Beyond Vision (multisensory exhibition currently at the Cooper Hewitt in NYC)
What Can A Body Do? (Accessibility page for exhibition at Haverford)
What Can A Body Do? (Audio descriptions and transcripts)
Wonder  at the Renwick Gallery

In class, we'll work on planning the CCW exhibition and the opening reception, with particular attention to access.

Friday, April 27, Workshop with Lindsay Buchman, 11 AM-1 PM, VCAM Maker Space  

OPTIONAL: If you want more feedback on your proposed project: post on Serendip, or send me by email, a project proposal of about 1-3 paragraphs. See the parameters for the project and work-in-progress presentation below, under next week's tasks. 

If you wish, bring your CCW notebooks to class *to hand in to me.* I want to be able to look/read through them and return them to you before the end of the semester. If you prefer, you can hand yours to me next week OR at the end of semester, in which case I'll mail it back to you. If you're open to having your notebook included in the exhibition, you can either pick it up before you leave campus or give me instructions re: where to mail it. 

CCW Exhibition Dates

April 23-29: Layout week
April 29:  Work for exhibition ready (artwork, collaborative projects, handmade books) 
April 29:   Recordings finalized
April 30-May 6: Installation 
May 7th, 4:30-7: Exhibition Opening Reception (you do not have to be there the entire time!)
May 7-21: Exhibition on display in VCAM Create Space



May 1

Class: Work-in-Progress Presentations

Fill out Course Evaluations in class

April 30-May 6: CCW Exhibition Installation
May 7, 4:30-7: Exhibition Opening Reception 

In planning your 5-minute presentation (followed by 5 minutes for discussion) keep these things in mind:

  • What are the central questions or ideas guiding your project?
  • How does a disability studies framework shape your project and the questions you are asking? (Consider the difference between a project "about" disability and a project that also brings questions or perspectives from disability studies to the table) 
  • What are your materials and methods? (Close reading of text, images, film clips? Interviews? Multiple media? A particular disciplinary framework? An intersectional approach?)
  • What would you like the rest of us to learn from your work so far? What can you share with us now, and what are you still figuring out? How can the rest of us be a resource for you as you work on your project? How can your project serve as a resource for the rest of us, and potentially for others beyond the class?      

Final project parameters: 

  • The project's scope should be equivalent to about 8-10 pages of an analytical essay, but it can take a variety of forms.
  • Discuss your topic, material & methods, and parameters of your particular project with me. 
  • Bring a critical disability studies perspective to your project.  You needn't simply "apply" this perspective: feel free to challenge, extend, or complicate ideas from disability studies. 
  • If your project takes a narrative or artistic form, add an analytical frame or coda that reflects on its relationship to the field of disability studies. 
  • Create a resource that others in the class (and beyond) can draw on. You can do this by extending a conversation we've begun in class, asking new questions, including a bibliography or other resource materials, creating an artistic project that can be shared, and in many other ways. 

Final projects and portfolios due for seniors on Friday, May 11 (with a grace period until the official college deadline, 5 PM Saturday May 12); for others on Friday, May 18 by noon.

Note: These are *college deadlines* for all semester work, so I cannot extend these deadlines without permission of your Dean.

CCW Exhibition Dates:

April 30- May 6 : Exhibition installation and preparation for opening.
Monday, May 7,  4:30-7 PM: Exhibition Opening Event in VCAM.
May 7-May 21:  Exhibition on display in VCAM Create Space.



Below are instructions for submitting your final project, e-portfolio, and course reflection. This process invites you to look back on the work you've done over the semester and reflect on what you’ve learned. 

1. Please post your final project to Serendip.

2. Log onto our course homepage. Under “Quick Links” on the left side of the page, you will see “My E-Portfolio.” Clicking on that will call up your two projects and all of your Serendip postings. This is your “portfolio” for the semester.

3. Optional: you can copy or scan some pages from your CCW notebook and email them to me, put hard copies in my mailbox, or upload to Serendip. 

4. Review your portfolio and reflect on your learning this semester (not just what appears in concrete form in your portfolio). Then, please write an informal essay (about 2 pages) reflecting on this learning, on where you were at the beginning of the semester and where you are now. Do you see any particular questions or themes that occupied you throughout the semester? Think about your projects and your contributions inside and outside the classroom. You can consider some of the questions below, but you do not need to answer all of them. 

How has your understanding of disability been expanded or challenged? In what contexts did learning happen for you, and how did you contribute to others’ learning?  What will you take from this course into your future courses and your future as a human?

You can email your reflection to me or post it on Serendip. If you post on Serendip, tag your piece by checking the box “Self-Evaluation and Reflection." I look forward to spending some time with your portfolios and your reflections. If you have any questions whatsoever about the process, please feel free to email me.

Your portfolio includes your two projects, your Serendip posts, your CCW notebook (returned to you earlier) and a written reflection on your learning in the course.

Please also return to me a copy of the PACC evaluation that I emailed to you. Thanks! 

Final projects and portfolios due for seniors by Saturday, May 12 by 5 PM; for others on Friday, May 18 by noon.