Maureen P. West
B HLTH 497
Guided survey and discussion of current literature in health related to personal, social, economic, and political topics. May have field component.
This course provides students with an overview of the growing disability studies field with introductory knowledge about disability as a social, cultural, historical and political phenomenon. Drawing from interdisciplinary scholarship and multiple perspectives of people with disabilities, students are exposed to varying disability definitions, cultural meanings and representations, social justice, human rights issues, and their constructions in film. Film productions are a powerful medium that can affect how we think about people, places, cultures, policies, and activism. Basic techniques of understanding the medium of film and its history will be briefly introduced but not surveyed extensively. The course will predominately explore American films representing disability. Commercial mainstream films (fiction film and documentaries) as well as independently produced films will also be included. How and when movies are used is important, as viewings with little analysis or reflection may have unintended consequences, sending the message that inaccurate or exaggerated stereotypes about disability are accurate and acceptable (Chervenak 2006; Longmore 1985; Norden 1994). Uninformed readings of film may reinforce negative and inaccurate beliefs and stereotypes about disability, and may perpetuate stigma status of people with disabilities. In healthcare settings, nurses can foster engagement and empathy through careful choices and active reading of films (Considine and Baker 2006).
Student learning goals
1. Improve understanding of historical, cultural, medical, and social issues surrounding disability.
2. Familiarize and understand the terms and concepts for film analysis in the context of disability studies.
3. Become versed in some of the specifics of disability culture, from identity, community, and activist (self-determination) standpoints.
4. Increase knowledge of the varied contributions people with disabilities through the medium of film with attention to political, affective, historical, and artistic dimensions.
5. Examine and expand your understanding of historical and contemporary meanings of disability.
General method of instruction
Class assignments and grading