Disability Rhetoric

disabling writing, in a good way

What’s New?! 2014

There is so much going on in Disability Rhetoric these days, our list of things to watch/read/listen to seems almost never-ending. But in an exciting way, of course! This post is meant to share a few recent items that we’re suggesting should be on your list as well (if they aren’t already). First, Dev Bose has been working tirelessly at updating the Disability Rhetoric site, so please take some time to cruise around the various pages and see what’s new. Let us (Tara Wood, Hilary Selznick, Dev Bose) know if there is anything you’d like to add or any ideas you have for enhancing the site.

Second, 2014 has been an exciting year for books that focus on the intersections of rhetoric, disability, and writing studies. Here are a few highlights:

  • Dolmage, Jay. Disability Rhetoric. New York: Syracuse UP, 2014. Print.
  • Kerschbaum, Stephanie. Toward a New Rhetoric of Difference. Urbana, IL: NCTE, 2014. Print.
  • Ben-Moshe Liat, Chris Chapman and Allison Carey, eds. Disability Incarcerated: Imprisonment and Disability in the United States and Canada. New York: Palgrave, 2014. Print.

Several articles should also be mentioned:

  • Dolmage, Jay. “Framing Disability, Developing Race: Photography as Eugenic Technology.” Enculturation17 (March 2014). Web. 27 September 2014.
  • Dunn, Patricia. “Disabling Assumptions: Challenging Stereotypes for a More Democratic Society. English Journal 103.2 (November 2014). Print.
  • Kerschbaum, Stephanie. “On Rhetorical Agency and Disclosing Disability in Academic Writing.” Rhetoric Review 33.1 (2014). 55-71. Print.
  • Shachmut, Kyle. “A New Obstacle for Students with Disabilities.” The Chronicle of Higher Education (September 2014). Web. 27 September 2014.

In addition to these publications, the following recent presentations are available to view:

In addition to the books and presentations listed above, Emily Clark recently reviewed Cynthia Lewiecki-Wilson Jen Cellio’s Disability and Mothering: Liminal Spaces of Embodied Knowledge for JAC 34.1/2; Elizabeth Brewer reviewed Jay Dolmage’s Disability Rhetoric for DSQ 34.2; and Amy Vidali reviewed Stephanie Kerschbaum’s book Toward a New Rhetoric for DSQ 34.3. And speaking of DSQ, they recently put out a call for a multidisciplinary editorial team.

Finally, we’d like to mention the fantastic work of one of Amy Vidali’s graduate students, Marissa Michael who put together a website focusing on first-year composition and disability studies. http://disabilitystudiesincomposition.wordpress.com

The work we’re highlighting here is by no means exhaustive; it represents our efforts to applaud, amplify, and share the tremendous quality of work produced by/in this research community. And we want to know what you’re up to! Let us know what you have on your disability to do-list, whether it’s something we should read, a site we should visit, or a talk we can listen to!

Tara & Hilary

Join our mentor program!

Hi all! As you may or may not know, I’m stepping into the role of co-chair (along with Amy Vidali) of the Standing Group on Disability Studies. Part of this role entails coordinating the mentoring program, which is set up for scholars, teachers, and researchers interested in cultivating productive and supportive relationships between those of us vested in the intersections of disability and rhetoric. Many of us often feel a bit isolated as the only “disability studies” person in our departments and connecting with the wonderful group of DS/rhet comp can create a sense community.

In my own experience as a mentee, I cannot begin to describe the absolute pleasure of having someone who “gets it” respond to my work, not to mention the added (and perhaps even more crucial) benefit of tapping someone outside the confines of my own campus to offer me advice on navigating the often lonely and murky waters of graduate school survival. Although our mentor-mentee relationships are not meant to be hierarchical by nature, I found it very helpful to consult my mentor about the job market, about completing large-scale research projects, and about balancing my various academic and personal roles. She’d been there, done that!

I know that Amy has also loved working in a more peer-to-peer capacity, where she can get feedback on her work and provide feedback for her “mentee.”

We’d love to keep this program growing, hearty, and vibrantly demonstrating our community’s shared values of collaboration, connectedness, and interdependence. So if you are interested in becoming either a mentor or a mentee, please send an email to Tara Wood at twood@ou.edu

SIG becomes a Standing Group, New Officers

Our long-standing “Special Interest Group” (SIG) in Disability Studies, through CCCC, became the CCCC Standing Group in Disability Studies (SGDS) at the beginning of Summer 2013. This means that we have a “sponsored panel” each year at CCCC, a regular meeting time (as we had before), and standing status (so we don’t have to re-apply each year). Here is the SGDS description and the bylaws.

We also have a new co-Chair of the group, Tara Wood, and a new Elections Officer, Dale Katherine Ireland. Amy Vidali is staying on as co-Chair (hello!) and Margaret Price is rotating out, though we won’t let her go very far! The next election will be after CCCC in 2014, so stay tuned!

Storify: Tweeting Disability at CCCC

The disability discussions spawned at CCCC continue!

Alison Hitt assembled this fantastic storify that captures discussions of disability at CCCC.

You can also find some papers on disability-related topics at CCCC at the NCTE Connected Community (head to “Libraries” and then the link titled “2013 CCCC Annual Convention,” then skim through – thanks for the tip Stephanie K.!).


Connecting to CCCC

Everything that happens in Vegas will not stay in Vegas – for disability happenings at CCCC, #4C13 is the main hashtag, with #dis for what’s happening with us.

You can also follow along on the “Documenting the Public Work” site on Facebook, and consider cross-listing your Facebook posts there.

Please do share other ways you’re staying in touch, whether you’re in Vegas or just acting like you are. — Amy



RSA CFP: Border Rhetorics

[posted by request]

Rhetoric Society of America Conference

RSA 14: “Border Rhetorics”


May 22-26, 2014

Marriot River Center – San Antonio, Texas

San Antonio is an ideal city for thinking about borders. Not only has the city been positioned along different national borders, but it also exists at the interesting intersection of diverse cultures and histories. “Border Rhetorics” not only invites consideration of these kinds of geographic, political and cultural borders but also invites consideration of a wider range of borders: the borders between identities, between roles, between disciplines, between concepts, etc. The 2014 conference theme seeks to spur a broad conversation about the borders that unite and divide us, the ways in which these borders are constructed and deconstructed, confirmed and contested.

The theme of “Border Rhetorics” opens a space for numerous inquiries and conversations about the things that constitute our borders – politically, culturally, academically, etc. – as well as the ways in which those borders are constructed, crossed, challenged, circumvented, diminished and redrawn. The theme also encourages us not only to think about our borders but also to think across them in the hopes of opening spaces for dialogue and disagreement that may in turn alter our sense of these borders.

Interested parties are invited to submit abstracts for individual papers, proposals for panels, and ideas for special format events (roundtables, debates, etc.). Panels representing only one institution are strongly discouraged and a slight preference will be shown for panels representing not only different institutions but also different disciplinary fields (e.g., Composition and Communication Studies). Submissions that take advantage of off-site venues are also encouraged.

Proposals Due July 1, 2013; Notifications September 1, 2013

Here is a link for more details and to submit your proposal.

Join the official RSA 14 conference Facebook group for networking, news and updates.

Tweeting Disability at MLA

The hashtag for disability studies at MLA is #mla13dis.

Dale Katherine also noted that George Williams “tweeted and storified (a way to archive the tweets) the excellent session”: “Disability Studies, the MLA, and the AAUP Report ‘Accommodating Faculty Members Who Have Disabilities.” Here is the link from storify.


Disability at the White House

In this political season, I came across the White House site on Disability and feel like it’s crying out for rhetorical analysis – what is disability for this administration according to this site? Interesting stuff…

Responding to the AAUP Report

Call for Responses:

 Disability Studies Perspectives on the AAUP Report

“Accommodating Faculty Members Who Have Disabilities”


I am inviting approximately 500-750 word responses to the recently-released American Association of University Professors’ report “Accommodating Faculty Members Who Have Disabilities.” (For some brief background on the genesis of this policy, see Schmidt, Peter. “AAUP Overhauls Outdated Guidance on Professors with Disabilities.” Chronicle of Higher Education 22 July 2011.) The aim of these collected responses is to articulate a disability studies perspective on the policy and to explicate the role that such policies might, and do, play in the lives of disabled and non-disabled faculty alike.

I invite broad response, from a variety of areas of focus or commentary, and hope to include a representative range of reactions from faculty across the academy, at all stages and ranks. I especially encourage faculty with administrative experience to weigh in on the report.

Below, I have identified questions that might be starting points for inquiry.

How might a document like this be used at your institution? By whom? For what purposes?

  • How will you use or respond to this document in your professional life?
  • How might such a document impact the lives and experiences of disabled faculty members in higher education?
  • How is disability framed and described in this report?
  • How are disabled faculty framed and described in this report?
  • What change or impact might this document have in the academy? At your institution/in your department?
  • The document points to the importance of identifying the “essential functions” of academic jobs. How might this be realized? What benefits or problems are associated with this approach when disability enters the equation?
  • The report makes a number of recommendations for practice and policy. What additional perspectives or insights from a disability studies lens might be offered on these recommendations?
  • Critique or discuss ableism in/and the report.
  • What personal and/or affective responses did you have towards this report?
  • What does a disability studies perspective contribute to the report as a whole or to specific parts of the report?
  • What conversations should be happening about/around this report? How can/might such conversation happen?


Some possibilities for the final form of the essay might be a single, collaboratively-authored essay or a multivocal essay with different contributions clustered together under subheadings. The voices involved and the shape of our collaboration will in some ways determine the ideal publication venue, although preliminary queries have been sent to several editors. Anonymous or pseudonymous submissions are welcome. All contributors will have the opportunity to review and shape material as it is assembled for publication.

Send inquiries or proposals by July 15, 2012 to Stephanie Kerschbaum, kersch@udel.edu.

New Resources

I wanted to draw your attention to two new items under “Resources” – the fabulous WPA CompPile Bibliography on Disability Studies and Suggested Practices for Syllabus Accessibility Statements. They’ll live permanently under “Resources,” and do send along other documents/links I might list there (your syllabi, bibliographies, and so on).

Also, here is the AAUP Accommodating Faculty Members with Disabilities document, which was discussed (and critiqued) at both the SIG and CDICC meetings. Stephanie Kerschbaum has been leading discussions on responding to this document.

I won’t likely post all updates I make to this blog to the listserv, so “follow” this blog if you want all the updates. Thanks!


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