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Evolving Syllabus

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Health Studies 304, Spring 2021

Mondays and Thursdays 7:10-8:30 PM

Prof. Kristin Lindgren




In this course, students 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 explore how disability theory and engaged community practice inform and shape one another. Along the way, we 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 development of the disability rights and disability justice movements. In non-pandemic times, 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. We hope to be able to engage in some Zoom sessions with CCW artists this semester.



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 contact Sherrie Borowsky (, Director of the Office of Access and Disability Services, or 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!

College statement: Haverford College is committed to providing equal access to students with a disability.  If you have (or think you have) a learning difference or disability – including mental health, medical, or physical impairment, please contact the Office of Access and Disability Services (ADS) at The ADS Coordinator will confidentially discuss the process to establish reasonable accommodations.  

Students who have already been approved to receive academic accommodations and want to use their accommodations in this course should share their verification letter with me and also make arrangements to meet with me as soon as possible to discuss their specific accommodations.  Please note that accommodations are not retroactive and require advance notice to implement.

 It is a state law in Pennsylvania that individuals must be given advance notice if they are to be recorded.  Therefore, any student who has a disability-related need to audio record this class must first be approved for this accommodation from the Coordinator of Access and Disability Services and then must speak with me.  Other class members will need to be aware that this class may be recorded.



Most readings for the course will be made available as pdf's on our course web platform, Serendip. We will also be reading excerpts from these books (and all of Good Kings Bad Kings), but you don’t need to buy them all. The first two are available as e-books via Tripod.

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 can teach and learn joyfully and effectively. To this end, I ask for your attentive presence in our Zoom classroom, our online course space Serendip, and, if we’re able to make this happen, in Zoom sessions with CCW. Assignments include eight Serendip posts over the semester, a mid-semester project, and a final project. The projects can take multiple forms, including essays, artwork, video, activist initiatives, websites, and so on, and I invite you to creatively incorporate access practices into your projects. Each of you will give an informal presentation of “work-in-progress” as you develop your projects.



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 a campus event 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. If you miss a class, I suggest that you post a response to the reading or other material for that class.  So: I would like you to post at least eight times on Serendip over the semester (your mid-term and final projects will bring this to ten) but your postings can take a variety of forms. Sometimes there will be a general prompt and sometimes a more specific one. I welcome your ideas about how we can engage on Serendip effectively as a class.



I use a portfolio grading process, in which I review, and I ask you to review, a portfolio of your work at the end of the semester. Serendip will automatically create an e-portfolio for you that includes all of your postings and your mid-semester and final projects. I 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 and your final project. Your final course grade will be holistic, based on these grades and your engagement in class and on Serendip (as a speaker, listener, poster, and respondent—I don’t privilege one form of engagement over another) and your portfolio as a whole. Feel free to talk to me if you have questions or concerns about grading.






February 15  

Introductions and overview of the course

Brainstorming class community guidelines and access practices


February 18

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

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

Neil Marcus, “Disabled Country” (1 page, before Table of Contents in Disability History of the US)

Serendip: Create a username and upload an image




February 22   

Eli Clare, Exile and Pride: “The Mountain” (pages 1-13) (CW: sexual abuse)

Mia Mingus, Access Intimacy, Interdependence, and Disability Justice (5 pages)

Ibby Grace, "Cognitively Accessible Language (Why We Should Care)"  (1 page)

Alice Wong, Disability Visibility Project (just browse the site)


February 25   

Exile and Pride:“Freaks and Queers” (pages 81-118, 37 pages)




March 1

As a follow-up to our conversation about freak shows: 

Riva Lehrer, Jarred: Self-Portrait in Formaldehyde (27 minutes, 43 with optional Q&A)  framed by her visit to the Mütter Museum in Philly and her work in portraiture
CW: images of fetuses in jars 

Disability and Pandemic (several short essays and op-eds, pick and choose if you wish)

#NoBodyisDisposable #ICUgenics

Riva Lehrer, The Virus Has Stolen Your Face from Me (3 pages)

Elliot Kukla, "My Life is More 'Disposable' During this Pandemic" (2 pages)

Alice Wong, "Am I Expendable During this Pandemic?" (2 pages)

Katie Savin and Laura Guidry-Grimes, "Confronting Disability Discrimination During the Pandemic" (5 pages)

Sonja Sharp, “Californians with Disabilities Are Outraged by Vaccine De-prioritization” (3 pages)
(policy has now changed) 

James Tapper, “Fury at DNR Notices Given to COVID Patients with with Learning Disabilities” (2 pages)  Note: “learning disabilities” in the UKmeans “intellectual or cognitive disabilities,”
not learning disabilities as we define them in the US. (policy has now changed)

Jen Deerinwater, “The Erasure of Indigenous People in Chronic Illness,” (5 pages, pdf in reading file)


Serendip: Sometime in the next week, post a reflection on the video OR on one or more of the short essays for Monday OR one of the readings for Thursday.


March 4         

Disability Justice, Police Violence, and Abolition (CW: violence of many kinds)

TL Lewis, “Disability Justice is An Essential Part of Abolishing Police and Prisons” (5 pages)

Sarah Kim, “Black Disabled Lives Matter” (5 pages)

Jasbir K. Puar, The Right to Maim: Debility, Capacity, Disability, Preface: “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot!” (pdf, pp xiv-xxiv, or 13-23)




March 8         

Kim Nielsen, A Disability History of the United States, introduction and chapters 1 and 2 (42 pages) (CW for the book: not a pretty history. There are some positive stories, especially at the beginning and end of the book, but also lots of traumatic disability history.)

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, citizenship status, and other identity markers.


March 11       

A Disability History, chapters 3 and 4 (46 pages)

Serendip: Post a response to the reading for at least one of the next three classes (3/8, 3/11, or 3/15). We'll be reading chapters of A Disability History for all three class meetings. Your response can address any aspect of the reading, but if you're not sure what you want to write about, consider reflecting on one of the questions I suggested to guide your reading: How is disability defined at a particular moment? Who is charged with carework? How does disability intersect with another identity marker (or markers) at a particular time in US history? 




March 15       

A Disability History, chapters 5 and 6 (51 pages)
We will focus more on chapter 6; skim parts of chapter 5 if you wish


March 18       

Lennard J. Davis, "Introduction: Normality, Power, and Culture" The Disability Studies Reader (DSR) (read pages 1-8, dense reading)

Hidden Brain podcast: Emma, Carrie, Vivian: How a Family Became a Test Case (41 minutes) and/or read the transcript.

Molly McCully Brown, "The Central Virginia Training Center" (poem, 2 pages, pdf in reading file) She reads this poem on the podcast.




March 22       

Margaret Price, Introduction to Mad at School: Rhetorics of Mental Disability and Academic Life (pdf) (25 pages)

You can skim or skip the overview of chapters on pages 21-23, and in general focus on sections that interest you. 

Therí Pickens, excerpt from Introduction to Black Madness :: Mad Blackness (pdf, pages 4-8, more if you wish)


March 25       

In Nick Walker's blog, Neurocosmopolitanism: (about 8 pages in all)


 "Neurodiversity: Some Basic Terms and Definitions"

 "Neuroqueer: An Introduction"

Amythest Schaber, "What is Stimming?" (10 minutes)
If you wish, browse other videos in the Ask An Autistic series

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

Mel Baggs, "In My Language" (8.5 minutes)


Optional Viewing: documentary film Deej, directed by Rob Rooy (72 minutes)
Chronicles the life history of a non-speaking autistic student and poet who attends Oberlin College




March 29

No class

April 1

No class 

March 31-April 2

Individual meetings with Kristin about mid-semester project

Begin to formulate an idea for your mid-term project assignment, due the week of April 12.
To get started: Pick up on a thread of something that has engaged you in the reading or conversation, something that’s puzzling you, or a question you want to ask, and spend some time following that thread. One of your Serendip posts might develop into a project. Maybe there's an issue we haven't discussed in class that you'd like to explore. 
We'll discuss your ideas together; you do not yet need to have a fully formed plan when we meet.

Project parameters: 

  • The project's scope should be equivalent to about 5-7 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, artistic, or activist 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 or activist project that can be shared, and in many other ways. 




April 5

Viewing: Crip Camp, streamable on Netflix, 1 hr. 47 min. (let me know if you don't have Netflix access)
CW: disturbing footage of abusive conditions at Willowbrook State School

Sins Invalid, Ten Principles of Disability Justice (long version is 3 pages)

Optional: Patty Berne, Disability Justice: A Working Draft

Optional: If you want more information about the disability rights movement, I suggest reading Chapter 8
A Disability History of the United States (25 pages)

A couple of other book-length resources for any of you who want to do final projects on this topic:
Lennard J. Davis, Enabling Acts: The Hidden Story of How the Americans with Disability Act Gave the Largest US Minority its Rights
Joseph P. Shapiro, No Pity: People with Disabilities Forging a New Civil Rights Movement


April 8


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. Finally, tell your classmates about something you're still struggling with/trying to work out, and ask for ideas and feedback.

Sometime during the week of April 12, please upload your project to Serendip. 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.



Upload your mid-semester project to Serendip anytime this week  

April 12       

Nicola Griffith, Rewriting the Old Disability Script (2 pages)

Susan Nussbaum, Good Kings, Bad Kings (pages 1-99, but a quick read)
CW: physical and sexual abuse and rape, accidental death, overmedication. The novel also contains a lot of love, resilience, and crip humor.  


April 15         

Good Kings, Bad Kings (pages 100-201)



This week: Read/view at least three of your classmate's projects on Serendip and post a comment on one or more, including one that has not yet been commented on.

April 19

Good Kings, Bad Kings (pages 202-294, finish the book) 

Cheryl Green, In My Home (6 minute video)

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


April 22         

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

Alice Sheppard, "I Dance Because I Can" (2 pages)

Alice Sheppard, Embodied Virtuosity: Dances from Disability Culture (8 minutes)

Riva Lehrer, Golem Girl, chapter 61 (pdf, 12 pages with images)

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?"




April 26         

Judy Lieff, director: documentary film Deaf Jam (1 hour, 10 min, via Kanopy). If you’ve already seen the film and would prefer to watch something else, watch Sound of Metal  (via Netflix)  or browse youtube for clips of ASL poetry and other examples of Deaf performance.


April 29         

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).                    

How Architecture Changes for the Deaf (5 minutes)

Christine Sun Kim, The Enchanting Music of Sign Language (15 minutes)

Optional: Christine Sun Kim, [Closer Captions] (8 minutes)
Christine Sun Kim at Haverford (5 minutes) 




May 3             

Eli Clare, Brilliant Imperfection, Introduction, A Note on Reading this Book, and Chapter 1, "Ideology of Cure” (22 pages)
(e-book available via Tripod)

Ben Mattlin, "Cure Me? No Thanks"

Sandy Sufian & Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, The Dark Side of CRISPR

How do we distinguish between appropriate treatment or cure and unwanted or harmful intervention?


May 6             

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

Ruha Benjamin, "Interrogating Equity: A Disability Justice Approach to Genetic Engineering" (4 pages)

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

Is it ethical to use reproductive or genetic technologies (ranging from selecting a sperm donor to pre-implantation genetic screening 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?

Optional articles if you want to pursue these ideas further:

Keri Cronin ‘18, "Modern Eugenics: A Disability Theory Perspective on CRISPR" Serendip

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

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



May 10           


Make individual appointment with Kristin if you wish

May 13           


In planning your 4-5-minute presentation (followed by 4-5 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? A multidisciplinary 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. It can also be an expansion of your mid-term project.
  • Discuss your topic, material & methods, and parameters of your particular project with me if it is a new project. 
  • 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, creating an activist project, and in many other ways.
  • Pay attention to accessibility: e.g., use clear and accessible language, provide brief descriptions of images or videos, and generally think about how your project is and isn't accessible to a variety of readers or viewers.  

Final projects and portfolios due by Saturday, May 22nd by 5 PM.



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. 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 2-3 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? How did the pandemic or other events change, interfere with, or deepen your learning?

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, and a written reflection on your learning in the course.

Final projects and portfolios due Saturday, May 22nd by 5 PM.