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Final Reflection

raveneld's picture

While I really wasn’t sure what to expect from this class, the “Portrait” element of the course title is what actually stood out to me and made me want to take it the most. I had taken many art classes in high school which involved a lot of short essay writing and close readings about paintings and images. So when I saw that I might be able to do some of that in this class, I was really excited. The disability element of the class began interesting a lot after a few weeks of the class. Particularly when we started reading writing by disabled people who told stories about their own experiences is when I became most engaged in the class.

Without a doubt, I have a new understanding of disability and disability culture. While I am now ashamed to admit it, before this year I think I definitely meshed with the large part of our population who see the disabled and think “pity.” But I know after reading so much work by disabled authors that it is not the pity that they want. In my final essay, I pulled a quote from Riva Lehrer's essays on her series "Circle Stories" where she says, “I hope, by painting the people who move me, who attract me, that I can create a space for looking and thinking, to have a preliminary way of being comfortable in the face of the unfamiliar” (Lehrer 381). I think in many ways this quote can sum up what many authors and artists we have looked at our trying to convey. Yes, the disabled might look “different” but we have to be see that difference not as something to pity but as something we are “comfortable” around. There is a lot more to a person than there disability and after reading so much work by disabled authors and watching videos and interpreting images, it is clear to me that it is very rare for a disabled person to believe their life is not worth living or they don’t have something very valuable to offer.

We talked a lot about deaf culture this semester which I found particularly interesting. Like I mentioned above, before this semester I rarely saw disability as a gift or something that one might want. But after talking so much about deaf culture, it became clear that the feelings of inclusion and the bonds formed within a deaf community are really special. This being said, their lives are not perfect and simple. There are things to overcome that might be more difficult as a disabled person. In Train Go Sorry, Leah, a hearing girl, portrays deafness almost as a privilege in that one can be part of an amazing community, however, there are scenes where it is clear that coming outside of the deaf community can be challenging and one might be less supported. I wrote about this deafness in the outside world more in another one of my Serendip posts, but it definitely was a topic I thought about frequently throughout the semester.

On a different note, in the past, I have been somewhat against peer editing because I haven’t found it to help a lot, but I think this year was definitely different. I think my writing has improved a lot this semester especially through the revising stages. By having to read three other peer’s essays each assignment, it not only hopefully would helped their essays, but it also made me more observant and understanding of how to revise my own essays as well. The advise of peers was usually very helpful so I plan to continue taking advantage of peer editing in the future. I think the writing skills I learned this semester will definitely carry over to other classes as well. The close reading and analysis of portraits, writing, film, etc. will also be very helpful.