Nancy Willis, Self-portrait

Disabled Brilliance: an Introduction to Critical Disability Studies

Instructor: Stephanie Rosen
Room Project
6513 Woodward Avenue
Detroit, MI 48202

From its origins in late-twentieth-century activism, disability studies has argued that social conditions dis-able individuals, producing and enforcing disability through coerced segregation, inaccessible design, and cultural representations. More recent work in critical disability studies argues that disability and debilitating conditions are also produced in populations through environmental, political, and capitalist processes that not only render some bodies and minds invalid, but also alter bodies and minds themselves—through for example chemical pollution, state violence, and unsafe working conditions. In this course, we will ground our thinking in critical disability studies and disability justice—both of which insist on intersectional analysis and cross-movement solidarity—to understand complex, global systems of inequality and to learn transformative practices for creating more livable futures.

Disability justice—a movement led by Black, brown, indigenous, and queer disabled folks—is grounded in interdependence, survival skills, and a commitment to not leaving each other behind. We will read artists and activists from this movement (Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, Patty Berne) and academics aligned with it (Jasbir Puar, Dan Goodley) to think through questions such as: What politics emerge from disability activist practice? What forces are working to control our bodies/minds? What other futures might we imagine and create? We will also practice disability pedagogy: we’ll learn from each other, we’ll take collective responsibility for creating access (to the readings, to the discussion, to the space), and we’ll honor individual needs.

ASL interpretation will be provided. Please contact the instructor if you have other access needs that may require accommodation or advance planning, or any other questions to discuss, at

Course Schedule

Monday, 6:00-9:00pm
November 18 — December 09, 2019
4 weeks