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Evolving Syllabus

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Health Studies 304                                            Prof. Kristin Lindgren

Spring 2016                                                       Stokes 118 IA           

Tuesday 7:30-10                                     

Stokes 119                                                         610-220-3670



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 with vulnerable subjects; the growth of disability arts and culture; and the relationship between disability, access, and exhibition practices. In consultation with the instructor, each student 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 at CCW, and will culminate in an exhibition and presentation of the project at Haverford at the end of the semester. Students will contribute weekly entries in a lab notebook, which will include reading responses and CCW project notes; complete a mid-semester essay and final course project, and participate in developing the CCW partnership and exhibition. 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, talk to me and to Sherrie Borowsky (, Coordinator of the Office of Access and Disability Services. As a class, we will try to enact principles of universal design. Let’s create a more inclusive and accessible world! 


A Lab Notebook, aka repository of ideas, musings, sketches, and responses of many kinds, will be provided for all students and CCW participants, courtesy of the Civic Engagement and Social Responsibility Initiative.

Most readings for the course will be made available by pdf as we proceed.

Three books are available in the bookstore:

Lennard J. Davis, ed. Disability Studies Reader, Fourth Edition

Kim Nielsen, A Disability History of the United States (also available as ebook in Tripod)

Susan Nussbaum, Good Kings, Bad Kings





January 19

Class: Introductions

Disability Studies Keywords

CCW Orientation: Stephanie Petro, Arts & Education Supervisor at the Center for Creative Works, will lead an orientation to CCW and to working with adults with intellectual disabilities

Logistics of CCW partnership  



January 26

Class: Simi Linton, “Reclamation” and “Reassigning Meaning,” in Claiming Disability: Knowledge and Identity (pdf)

Georgina Kleege, “Call it Blindness,” in Sight Unseen (pdf)

Eli Clare excerpts from Exile and Pride: Preface to 2009 edition and “The Mountain” (both available as audiofiles, read by Eli, on his website:; and Part ii: Bodies (ebook available in Tripod)

CCW: Orientation onsite at CCW

Notebook: Create a cover; Create an informal self-portrait combining image and text; write some responses to visit to CCW, including a list of seven things you did and seven things you noticed.



February 2

G. Thomas Couser, “Auto/Biographical, Biomedical, and Ethnographic Ethics,” in

Vulnerable Subjects  (pdf) and/or “Representing Vulnerability: Exemplary Texts” (pdf)

Michael Bérubé, Introduction and Epilogue, Life as We Know It (pdf)

IRB Guidelines

CCW: Orientation onsite at Haverford, followed by lunch in the DC; lunch tickets provided for students not on the meal plan

Notebook: Reading response on what makes for an ethical engagement; response to CCW visit to Haverford, including a list of seven things you did and seven things you noticed



February 16

Class: Kim Nielsen, A Disability History of the United States

Optional: Douglas C. Baynton, “Disability and the Justification of Inequality in American History,” in The New Disability History, ed. Longmore and Umansky

CCW: Lab session at Haverford

Notebook: Lab Notes! Seven things!

Serendip posting



February 9

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

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

Margaret Price, Introduction to Mad at School (pdf in Protected Reading File) 

Chris Gabbard, "A Life Beyond Reason," The Chronicle of Higher Education, link below

"More Intellectually Disabled Youths Go to College" link below

Serendip post in response to one or more of the readings

Schedule individual meeting with Kristin


CCW: Lab session at Haverford

Notebook: Lab Notes! That is, responses to the lab session, including both image and text and the usual lists of seven things 



February 23

Joseph N. Straus, "Autism as Culture," in Disability Studies Reader

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

Melanie Yergeau, "I Stim, Therefore I Am"

Nick Walker's blog, Neurocosmopolitanism:


     "Neuroqueer: An Introduction"

     "Neurodiversity: Some Basic Terms and Definitions"

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

Julia Bascom, Just Stimming blog, "Quiet Hands"

The Loud Hands Project


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?"


CCW: Art session at CCW 

Notebook: 7 things, 7 things!



March 1

You will each have about 5 minutes for a conversation about your mid-semester project. This is not a formal presentation; it is an opportunity to talk about work-in-progress with your classmates. 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 now that ChuHui has figured out how it works! Finally, tell your classmates something you're still struggling with/trying to work out, and ask for ideas and feedback.
Please post on Serendip a reflection on an idea, question, reading, conversation thread, CCW event, or something else from our class thus far that you would like us to return to or that you would like to keep thinking about as the semester continues. We will not have time to address all these things in class Tuesday, but I hope your postings will give us an opportunity to engage with questions that we haven't had time to address fully in class.  
By the end of next week/weekend, 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 one another's projects and comment on one or more, including one that no one has yet commented on.

CCW: Art session at CCW

Notebook: notes and sketches


SPRING BREAK  (Rest! See friends! Have fun! Oh, and senior thesis. )



March 15

Class: Susan Nussbaum, Good Kings, Bad Kings



March 22

Petra Kuppers, Introduction to Disability Culture and Community Performance: Find a Strange and Twisted Shape (ebook available through Tripod)

Simi Linton and Christian von Tippelskirch, documentary film, Invitation to Dance

Talk and film viewing: Chris Lopes, actor

CCW: Art Session at CCW



March 29

"Sometimes We Need to Get Uncomfortable"
"Art House," in NY Times Magazine:
Preview to "Outsider: The Life and Art of Judith Scott"  (2 1/2 minutes) 
"Judith Scott at the Museum of Everything:"  (7 1/2 minutes) 
Tobin Siebers, Disability Aesthetics, Chapter 1: "Introducing Disability Aesthetics:" (20 theoretical pages with images, focus on pages 15-20) 
Riva Lehrer, " Beauty in Exile" (pdf attached, 8 pages) 
 On Serendip, please post a comment in response to one or more of the readings or viewings.  
 We will schedule individual meetings next week and the following week to start discussing your final projects and to think about reading or other preparation. It's OK if you don't know yet what you want to do; we can brainstorm together.

CCW: Meet at Haverford



April 5

Sophia Wong, "At Home with Down Syndrome and Gender" (pdf, 28 pages)
Esther Chiang, Bryn Mawr, Reimagine Ability (browse the site)
"Dis/ability Critical Race Studies (DisCrit): Theorizing at the Intersections of Race and Dis/ability"
Subini Ancy Annamma, David Connor, and Beth Ferri  (pdf, 23 pages)
Thursday, April 7: Rachel Simon speaking at Bryn Mawr  

Friday, April 8: trip to see the play A Fierce Kind of Love, 7 PM at Christ Church Neighborhood House



April 12

Talk by Brian Heffernan, public speaker and advocate, and Daniel Heffernan, special education attorney

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)

And for future reference for those of you interested in exhibitions:

Richard Sandell, Jocelyn Dodd and Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, editors, Re-Presenting Disability: Activism and Agency in the Museum (full-length book)

On Serendip, please post a reflection on A Fierce Kind of Love, on Rachel Simon's talk, and/or on accessibility (building on ideas that interest you in the reading or websites, thinking about access or lack thereof in the bi-co, at CCW, or elsewhere, or reflecting on anything at all you want to explore in relation to access).  

In your lab notebooks next week, 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. 



April 19

Participate in planning and installing the exhibition. I'd like each of you to contribute both to big-picture planning and to concrete tasks related to the exhibition. Courtney shared a sign-up sheet for installation and she will be in touch about creating planning groups. This week, post to Serendip an idea or ideas for building an engaging and accessible exhibition. This can be an idea you already brought up in class, but posting it will give you a chance to think it through more fully and for the rest of us to reflect on it. 
As they mentioned in class, Lindsey & Sarah are leading a talk & conversation entitled "Disruptive Symbiosis: A Story of Science, Art, and Disability" next Tuesday, April 19, 4:30-5:30 in Hilles 108. Come if you can!   
Work-in-progress presentations, April 19 and April 26. 
You will have five minutes to present and some time for questions & conversation.
In planning your presentation (and project), 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 15-20 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 project and final portfolio/reflection deadlines 
  •  For seniors: due Friday, May 6 by 5 PM (grace period until 5 PM Saturday May 7, the official college deadline).
  • For all others: due Friday, May 13 by noon. 
Note: These are *college deadlines* for all semester work, so I cannot extend these deadlines without permission of your Dean.
The portfolio will include your two projects and all of your Serendip posts, a checklist of all the work for the course--including, for example, weekly posts, work on the exhibition, and two work-in-progress presentations-- and a written reflection on your learning in the course. Detailed instructions coming later. 


April 26

Class: Project Presentations

Thursday, April 28, Exhibition Opening and Reception! Invite your friends!

Final projects due for seniors on Friday, May 6; for others on Friday, May 13 at noon