DISABILITY STUDIES

Image includes four blue and white tiles with classic disability symbols.  The top left tile is the outline of a wheelchair user. The top right tile is the outline of a head and brain. The bottom left tile shows to hands with thumb and forefingers touching. The bottom right tile is the outline of a person with a visual aid/walking stick.

Image includes four blue and white tiles with classic disability symbols.  The top left tile is the outline of a wheelchair user. The top right tile is the outline of a head and brain. The bottom left tile shows to hands with thumb and forefingers touching. The bottom right tile is the outline of a person with a visual aid/walking stick.

My research, scholarship, teaching, and advocacy focus on how disability, gender, race, class, ethnicity, and sexuality operate and inflect one another in material, aesthetic, and historical contexts. My published scholarship is widely reprinted in academic textbooks and anthologies and referenced and taught in educational settings, and my books and articles have been translated into several languages, including Korean, French, German, Hungarian, and Hebrew.

The broad reach and influence of my scholarship was noted when The Chronicle of Higher Education featured Staring: How We Look in a three-page article and when Davidson College translated that book into a successful art exhibit. In 2010, I also received the Senior Scholar Award from the Society for Disability Studies in recognition of my contributions to building the field. One recognition of my thought leadership and advocacy influence that I consider particularly significant is my selection in 2009 by the progressive publication, the Utne Reader, as one of the “50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World.” In short, my work aims to raise public consciousness about and advocate for disability inclusion and equity through my research, scholarship, and teaching projects.

I have two research projects underway that join bioethics and technology design and development with disability studies. First, Habitable Worlds: Disability, Technology, and Eugenics addresses the bioethics of technology through fifteen extended critical meditations on selected objects—technologies, broadly understood—developed for or used by people with disabilities. These close readings of disability "things" open into critical analyses of how technologies can serve eugenic or inclusive ends. My second project is a series of articles in bioethics journals that make the case for disability and mount a case against the neoliberal eugenic arguments of some utilitarian bioethicists. Each article offers bioethicists and clinicians an extended narrative bioethical case study taken from disability life writing including: Harriet McBryde Johnson’s Too Late To Die Young, Emily Rapp’s The Still Point of the Turning World, Jean-Dominique Bauby’s The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, and Lucy Grealy's Autobiography of a Face. Both projects’ broad goal is to explicate the fundamental human experience of disability and illuminate what counts as human in history and culture in order to make the case for why bioethics, and by extension the larger culture, should strive to embrace rather than eliminate disability from human experience.