CORE 1929: Constructing Disability

Upon completion of all three units for this course, you should have a strong sense how disability is socially constructed and how that construction has evolved over time. You should be able to demonstrate how to find disability in the historical records and discuss the various questions that historians can ask about disability to help broaden their understandings of America’s historical narrative. You will be able to analyze the ways in which cultural productionsand power structure inform and (re)construct meanings/representations of disabilities. You will be able to reflect on disability as a minority and social justice issue, and how culture, religion, gender, and ethnicity intersect and influence the perception of disabilities in societies. Additionally, you should be able to understand how inclusive design theory and principles are now being applied in order to design products, services, environments, and experiences for people from all walks of life.In addition to learning a lot about the ways that we understand disability, you should have a strong appreciation for the methods that scholars from each field use—how are they different? Are they interrelated? How might you draw on each methodology in the future to help solve any number of problems?This final essay is designed for you to reflect on the methodologies in a comparative manner. Students will submit a 3-4 page essay that explores how each of these methodologies (historical, cultural, and design) is used to explore the social construction of disability. Essays will consist of the following components:An introductory paragraph which briefly tells the reader about the disability or theme that will be featured. The body of the essay will explore the ways that scholars from each field understand disability as a social construct. What questions does each discipline ask of the topic of disability? How do scholars from each field seek answers to those questions? What are the challenges (if any) to each methodology?Students should organize their analysis around a common disability OR a common theme (disability and race/gender/class/religion) from each of the three methodological approaches. (Ex: blindness from a historical perspective, a cultural perspective, and a design perspective OR how historians/cultural scholars/designers explore the intersection of disability and gender/race/class/etc.).A conclusion paragraph that assesses the value of an interdisciplinary approach for understanding the disability that is featured.

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