How and in what ways do the everyday practices of teaching and researching in composition and rhetoric shift when disability is centered? The title of this course is taken from a special issue of Compositon Forum (Summer 2018) that I co-edited and which poses this same question. As Annika Konrad, Elisabeth Miller and I write in our editors' introduction to that special issue,
To do disability . . . is to challenge deeply rooted traditions and commonplaces in our field. "Presence," in turn, highlights that disability is already and always present in our classrooms, writing programs, research, and professional lives in embodied, theoretical, and methodological ways. With presence, we reject the common misconception that anyone can wait until disability announces itself to begin moving with disability (see Titchkosky). By critically and creatively engaging disability presence in its many manifestations, opportunities emerge for new pedagogies, programs, and practices that engage diverse forms of embodiment as sites of inquiry and innovation.
The final keyword in our title, "disability," recognizes that disability is never "by itself" (Dolmage, Disability). All of the contributors to this special issue understand the critical and creative possibilities of disability as always in concert with other identities and experiences, following the work of leading Disability Studies scholars such as Therí Pickens, Sami Schalk, Nirmala Erevelles, Alison Kafer, Ellen Samuels, and Christopher Bell, who ask us always to notice race, gender, sexuality, and socioeconomic class in our assessments of who is represented and who is not in the populations, projects, communities, classrooms, and environments through which we move.
Taking this question, and the meditations on doing, presence, and disability that it offers, then, this seminar will serve as an introduction to disability studies (DS), taking as its focus the work emerging in the field of Rhetoric and Composition. We will read foundational work from early DS-RhetComp scholars all the way up to emerging and in-progress DS work. Major assignments will include a 7-10 page analysis of citational trails in emerging DS scholarship and a concluding seminar project. Smaller assignments and activities will include presenting and leading class discussion, writing an abstract of a scholarly essay, collaborative note-taking, and discussion board posts/forms of online engagement around course materials and discussion. We will have the chance to interact with and talk to DS-RhetComp scholars about their in-progress work. Texts will likely include Dolmage, Academic Ableism; Yergeau, Authoring Autism; Hamraie, Building Access; Kim, Curative Violence, Chen, Animacies as well as a packet of articles and book chapters).