This course will explore the intersections of women’s experience and disability issues, as well as with a range of other issues, such as race and class, in the global context. We will investigate the social, political and personal impact of disability and chronic illness on relationships, identity, employment, health, body image, sexuality, reproduction, motherhood, aging and other issues.
Through stories of real women’s and girls’ lives which reached the media in the last decade and before, students will move toward a dynamic understanding of the impact of physical, emotional and mental disabilities in the context of current social forces and public policy, primarily in the U.S, but with some comparison with other countries. Using lectures, discussion, readings, films and assignments, we will explore feminist analyses of disability issues, historic perspectives and current trends in medicine, independent living, care-giving, insurance, public benefits, law, and community activism. We will look at how they affect and are affected by disabled women and girls and their families. Discussion will focus on controversial ethical issues such as prenatal screening, wrongful birth law suits, and physician-assisted suicide. Course readings will utilize the rich literature of disabled women’s anthologies, biography and autobiography, scholarly and popular literature, feminist analyses, creative writing, women’s art, film and theatre.