This cluster of courses, which have been co-designed by professors with shared interests in disability studies, gender studies, human development, literature, social work, visual studies and writing, will consider how multiple systems of identity, as Rosemarie Garland-Thomson says, “intertwine, redefine, and mutually constitute one another.” Focusing, in particular, on those identity categories of “humans being” that may seem non-normative, we will read, view and create a range of self-representations: What stories do we tell about ourselves? What images do we construct? How might we revise them? To what degree can we—and do we want to--intervene in the processes of gender and sexual identity, illness, disability and aging? What changes and “cures” are desirable? What are the possibilities, and what are the limits, of our re-imagining ourselves? What roles might others play in this re-imagining?
Identity Matters Courses:
English 293: Critical Feminist Studies
Not monolithic, prescriptive, conformist or singular, contemporary feminist theory covers a wide range of perspectives and approaches, which this class, taught by Anne Dalke, will showcase. The texts we will examine will focus on, but not be limited to, those that address the matters of reading and interpreting literature. Asking always about the possibilities of transformation, we will also be attending to broader theoretical and political concerns, in an attempt to define the questions which contemporary feminisms raise and the different answers with which feminisms reply.
Independent Programs 207: Disability, Identity, Culture
This course, taught by Kristin Lindgren, will explore representations of illness and disability in literature, culture, and visual art and ask how these representations put pressure on theories of identity, identity politics, and post-identity politics. Examining medical, social, and cultural models of disability, we will consider how each model foregrounds different aspects of disability experience and different concepts of identity. We will ask: Who gets to tell stories and create images representing disabled bodies and minds, and what ethical conundrums are involved in the work of storytelling and image-making? How does ethical storytelling enlarge cultural and aesthetic views of embodiment, disability, and difference? How do embodied identities of race, gender and sexuality, class and ability intersect and collide? How do bioethical dilemmas construct the category of ‘disability’?
Social Work 556: Adult Development and Aging
This course, taught by Sara Bressi, broadly explores the biological, psychological, and social aspects of aging throughout the life course, but especially through middle age and into late adulthood for individuals, families, communities, organizations, and society at large. The course explores development processes in adulthood, strengths and vulnerabilities among adults and older adults, as well as the political, social, and academic discourse around the concept of aging successfully in the 21st of aging, and the ways in which this experience differs by race, ethnicity, gender, class, culture, or sexual orientation are considered. Topics include the demographics of aging in the United States and abroad; physical, cognitive, psychological, and social developmental changes that occur as a result of aging; major psychiatric disorders and dementia in adults and older adults; use of health and mental health services among adults and older adults; the impact of multiple losses and grief reactions among adults and older adults and their caregivers; the role of the family caregivers in facilitating adjustments to chronic illness and functional impairments; the cultural determinants of care giving responses; the experiences of minority elders; the range of medical, social, and housing services for adults and older adults; social welfare policies relevant to the health and well-being of in adulthood.