Integrative Studies Symposium 2014
April 1-2, 2014
April 1 | 1:15-2:45 pm
April 1 | 7 pm
Nothing About Us Without Us: An Open Panel on the Disability Experience
April 2 | 3:30 pm
'The End of Normal: Disability, Diversity, and Neoliberalism'
sponsored by the Literary Studies Writers Series in the Department of English
How do we define a ‘normal’ body and brain? Who decides what constitutes a ‘problem body’or an intellectual deficit? Why do so many of us see disability—whether physical, sensory, cognitive, or intellectual—as a personal problem or misfortune rather than a human difference? Why not demand that our culture do a better job of removing barriers and limitations that obstruct their full participation in the world?
This year’s Integrative Studies Symposium will invite us to think in new ways about ability/disability as well as challenge conventional and easy thinking about normalcy. It is not a special interest conversation: if we live long enough, we are likely to become impaired in some way. The human body, Harriet McBryde Johnson reminds us, is always‘imperfect, impermanent, and falling apart.’ For this reason, it is always more accurate to say that we are‘temporarily able-bodied’ rather than non-disabled. And it is part of the reason why it is important to expand and complicate our thinking about ability, regardless of what may be true for us in this moment.
The Symposium will also foreground the so-called ‘intellectual disabilities’ that often go unremarked in popular conversation about disability. Whether it is the autism spectrum or a learning disability, we want to talk about the varied and complex ways that the human brain can process information and sensory input. And, just as there is no ‘normal’body, there is no ‘normal’ brain. We learn differently. We are more or less sensitive to external stimuli or social cues. And we vary in the way that we manage our relationship to emotion.
This campus conversation will be the first to ask us to consider new frameworks for understanding both ability and disability. It will also ask us to challenge what we are told is ‘normal’ and, by extension, what becomes a physical or mental ‘problem’ to be cured or solved.
If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact Suzanne Ashworth (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Tammy Birk (email@example.com).
Speaker Biographies for Symposium