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Evolving Syllabus

Kristin's picture


Health Studies 304                    Prof. Kristin Lindgren

Spring 2017                              Stokes 118 IA           

Tuesday 7:30-10            

Stokes 119                                                        



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, 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, and with ACLAMO Family Center’s afterschool program for at-risk kids. This project will involve weekly meetings, alternately at Haverford, CCW, and ACLAMO, and will culminate in a presentation of the project 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/ACLAMO 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 composition book, aka repository of ideas, musings, sketches, and responses of many kinds.

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

We will also be using these books:

Eli Clare, Exile and Pride

Lennard J. Davis, ed. The Disability Studies Reader (e-version available on Tripod)

Kim Nielsen, A Disability History of the United States (e-version available on Tripod)

Susan Nussbaum, Good Kings, Bad Kings (print book and audiobook via Tripod)





January 17

Class: Introductions

Disability Studies 101

Logistics of CCW/ACLAMO partnership

Visit the exhibition Consent to Be Seen in Magill Library 



January 24

Serendip: Please post a short reflection (a paragraph or two) on the exhibition of Riva's work, Consent to Be Seen.

If you wish, check out her website: Riva Lehrer Art

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

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

Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, “Becoming Disabled”

Eli Clare, excerpts from Exile and Pride: Preface to 2009 edition, “The Mountain,” and Part ii: Bodies (book available in TriCo libraries)

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



January 31

Serendip: Please post questions/ideas you'd like to pursue from last week's reading

This link appeared beneath the Google Doodle featuring Ed Roberts on January 23rd, 2017:

Ed Roberts, The Disability Rights Movement, and the ADA

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

G. Thomas Couser, “Auto/Biographical, Biomedical, and Ethnographic Ethics,” in Vulnerable Subjects  (pdf)

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

Serendip: If you wish, post comments and questions about this week's reading and reflections on what makes for an ethical engagement



Sunday, February 5, 2 PM: Optional trip to the play Informed Consent at the Lantern Theater Company. Bus leaves around 1 PM from the Blue Bus stop. 

February 7

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

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.

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.  



February 14

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" (pdf) (28 pages) (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). 

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 21

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

Melanie Yergeau, "I Stim, Therefore I Am"

In Nick Walker's blog, Neurocosmopolitanism:


      "Neurodiversity: Some Basic Terms and Definitions"

      "Neuroqueer: An Introduction"


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?"

Notebook: 7 things, 7 things!



February 28

You will each have 10-15 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. 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.




March 14

Susan Nussbaum, Good Kings, Bad Kings

Please read one another's mid-term projects on Serendip

Serendip: Please post a response to one or more mid-term projects, including one that has not yet been commented on  



March 21

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

H-Dirksen L. Bauman, “Designing Deaf Babies” (pdf)

Viewing: documentary film Deaf Jam

Sign Language Interpreting of Music

Optional: Friday March 24, 6 PM, Performance of ASL poetry:

        The Flying Words Project at the Annenberg Center at Penn



March 28

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

     Nature, vol 530

Ben Mattlin, "Cure Me? No Thanks" from this week's NY Times (3/22/17) 

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

Eli Clare, "Ideology of Cure," Chapter 1 of Brilliant Imperfection, ebook on Tripod


March 29, 4:30-6, Dalton 2, Bryn Mawr: Niki Barker, BMC '16 "Body Politic: How Does a Body Mean?"

March 29, Disability and Change Symposium, Temple University

March 31, 10-11:30 AM, A Fierce Kind of Love, Sheraton Philadelphia

March 30-31, Disability Studies: A History, UPenn



April 4 

Viewing: Invitation to Dance, directed by Simi Linton and Christian von Tippelskirch 1 hr 25 min. DVD available on all three campuses, also streamable via Amazon

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

As you read this, think about Petra's questions: "What is disability culture? Is there one, are there many? Who calls culture into being?"  

"Sometimes We Need to Get Uncomfortable"

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

Preview to "Outsider: The Life and Art of Judith Scott" (2.5 minutes)

Optional: "Art House" in NY Times Magazine (take a look and just skim it if you wish)

Optional: "Judith Scott at the Museum of Everything" (7.5 minutes) 

On Serendip, please post a comment in response to one or more of the readings or viewings.  

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


Friday April 7: Margaret Gorman on ADHD and college students, 6-7 PM, Dalton 25, Bryn Mawr



April 11  To CCW, 10:30-1, to work on making a box for photographs

We'll discuss last week's reading "Sometimes We Need to Get Uncomfortable" and spend some time talking about our work with CCW & ACLAMO.

Natalie DiFrank, BMC '17, will join us to discuss her thesis project involving CCW artists and access intimacy

Mia Mingus, "Access Intimacy"

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

On Serendip, write a reflection on your interactions with CCW artists and/or kids at ACLAMO. (Feel free to respond to the readings too!) You can describe and reflect on a particular moment or on the partnership more generally. Next week, I'll ask you to write a few sentences or a short paragraph that can be shared with CCW (this can be distilled from this week's post or can be entirely different). CCW wants to include reflections from our class, from CCW artists, and from kids at ACLAMO in a write-up about the partnership.  

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

Optional Readings about Access and Universal Design:
Jay Dolmage, "Universal Design: Places to Start" (4 pages, with Wiki Appendix)


April 18

No new reading, except possibly individual reading related to your final project.

To CCW (probably on Tuesday, will check), 10:30-1, to work on making a box for photographs.

On Serendip, post 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. Your proposal should be a mini-version of your presentation, but more preliminary. If you're meeting with me on Tuesday, try to post by Monday evening so I can read it before we meet. 

We will (really! truly!) discuss "Sometimes We Need to Get Uncomfortable" and spend some time talking about our work with CCW & ACLAMO.

We'll work on planning the campus event featuring the CCW/ACLAMO project. I'd like each of you to contribute both to big-picture planning and to concrete tasks related to the presentation. We'll need to think about activities, logistics, access, publicity, etc. 

Please write up a short paragraph or a few sentences about the CCW/ACLAMO partnership to be shared with CCW. You can post this on Serendip or email it to me. It can be a portion of last week's post.

Thursday, April 20, 4:30-7:30 PM, "Creating in Conversation: Exploring Access Intimacy," Natalie DiFrank

This exhibition is part of a culminating thesis of work that explores the delvelopment, cultivation, and importance of access intimacy. The work addresses questions surrounding accessibilty and intersectionality while pushing against normative ideas of communication and intelligence. The exhibition will include collaborative art pieces made up of lithography prints by Natalie DiFrank and mixed media pieces by Kelly Brown, and Marcus, both artists from Center for Creative Works (a studio art vocational center for adults with intellectual disabilities located in Wynnewood PA). The show exemplifies the process of developing access intimacy as well as acting as an access point into Natalie DiFrank's theorectical work. During the exhibition there will be fruitful conversation, refreshments, and copies of the thesis book for those who wish to interact with the work in an additional form. 



April 25

Class: Work-in-Progress Presentations

Fill out Course Evaluations in class

You will have time to present and 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 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 Saturday May 6 by 5 PM.
  • For all others: due Friday, May 12 by noon. 

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



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 composition book 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? How did you develop as a reader, a writer, a speaker, a listener, and a community member, and how do you hope to develop further? 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, and a written reflection on your learning in the course. 

Final projects due for seniors on Saturday May 6; for others on Friday, May 12 at noon 

Thursday, May 4, 2-5 PM  Outdoor Event with Build-It Bus, Cyanotypes, other activities and Food. Invite your friends to stop by as a break from exams! (Rain Date: Friday May 5)

Saturday, May 6, 10 AM-1PM  ACLAMO kids' field trip to Haverford