Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts (BA)
College of Humanities and Fine Arts
However easy it may be to do, criminalizing - or less maliciously, categorizing - disability does not make it easier to accommodate. Clumping people with "special needs" together does not meet those needs any more efficiently and labeling those needs as "special" is vague and ineffective. The disabled aren't pegged into their roles for practical reasons, but because of inherited stigmas that are continuously encouraged by institutional policies, popular culture, and art. My thesis is in part an attempt to uncover and articulate a personal and social history of disability. In it I try to puzzle out how misconceptions regarding disability are formed, and I question how these can be transfigured. The movement to embrace Disability Studies (DS) is already well underway. It can be (and has been) appropriated for academics to study and teach, but I worry that it lacks personal experience and opinion. In this sense, I'm concerned about the future of the field. A brief point about the methodology that I follow in my thesis should be addressed: as my opening anecdote illustrates, this essay will not only call for more personal experience, but offer some as well. While I feel it is critical for myself and for those who are interested in the field to read and incorporate the theoretical interpretations of disability, I insist that disability studies (or any engagement with disability) be embedded in pragmatism, readability, and artistry. After all, disability - the signifier, and not the sign - is a human condition, whether it is constructed or not. If we expect society to actively approach disability, the literature that engages it or is invested in it and represents it as human experience must be relatable and above all else, teachable.
Widdifield, Hannah, "Who's Allowed to Ride the Short Bus?: Un-Defining Disability" (2012). Honors Theses. 70.