Disability in American History




This course explores disability as a crucial aspect of power and identity in modern American history. Over the course of that history, debilitating and maiming forces have produced impairment in the bodies and minds of groups and individuals in unequal ways. In this course we consider some of these forces, from indigenous dispossession and slavery to industrialization, war, social responses to disparities in state support or to state-supported violence, and environmental degradation. Through applying a disability lens, as well as methods developed in studies of intersectionality, we will explore the complex relationships between disability and race, gender, sexuality, and class in United States politics and life. Alongside our inquiry into structural, systemic, and attitudinal forms of ableism in historical context, we will learn how disabled people and their allies have challenged powerful forces throughout U.S history, from demands for rights and recognition to mutual aid to rejections of ableism’s hierarchies and exclusions. Students engage disability’s rich history through primary sources, scholarly texts, podcasts, films, images, and other cultural products.
Additional Information:
Faculty: Madeline Williams
Semester: Full Fall Term
Time: Tuesday, 3:00 - 5:45 pm