Special Issue: Pedagogical Responses to Caring for the Disabled

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Susan Campbell Anderson/Spelman College
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Pedagogy: Critical Approaches to Teaching
Literature, Language, Composition, and Culture

Special Issue: Pedagogical Responses to Caring for the Disabled

Editor: Susan Campbell Anderson, Spelman College

Recently, we have learned much from the reflections of disabled academics (e.g., L. Davis, K. Fries) about their experiences both inside and outside the academy, while several academic parents of disabled children (J. C. Wilson, M. Berubé) have written in memoir about their experiences as parents, or have written about the way working through a child’s disability has affected their careers. This body of writing has developed as a genre distinct from, though clearly not unrelated to the theoretical/ philosophical discipline of disability studies. The present issue seeks to build on the impulses of both theory and praxis by applying the lens of disability studies to the classroom, as have B. Brueggemann, R. Garland-Thomson, S. Snyder, and C. Lewiecki-Wilson in Disability Studies: Enabling the Humanities (MLA: 2002). While a recent issue of Disability Studies Quarterly (28:4(2008)) focuses largely on disabled academics and students, the present project asks scholars to articulate the ways in which caring for others (not just children, but siblings, spouses, parents, clients, etc.) with disabilities informs their own pedagogy, beyond simply making them more sensitive to issues of disability. This focus appears especially timely as scholars like E.F. Kittay in Love’s Labor (Routledge: 1998) and The Subject of Care (Rowman & Littlefield: 2002) increasingly interrogate the concepts of care and dependency.

Essays ranging from the theoretical to the practical might address (but need not be limited to) the following topics/questions:

  • How have academic professionals seen their pedagogical methods changed by the reciprocal experience of caring (in its many senses) for a disabled person?
  • How does a personal relationship with a disabled person change our understanding of the academy, learning, modes of intellect, the purpose of college, etc.?
  • Are there professionals who can comment on distinctive team-based learning encounters or service learning encounters uniquely guided by their experiences with a disabled loved one?
  • In keeping with the journal’s mission, how might this pedagogy be placed in a uniquely literary context?
  • How does this kind of insight transform one’s scholarly, literary-theoretical, and pedagogical-theoretical apparatus?
  • How might what L. Carlson calls the “burgeoning conversation around the gendered nature of care in the context of disability” [The Faces of Intellectual Disability (Bloomington: Indiana UP, 2009), 174] affect the ways we teach writing and literature?
  • In short, what does having a disabled person in our lives teach us about teaching?

  • Building on E.F. Kittay’s paradigm of the doulia, a “nested” system in which caregivers need care because they care for others, Robin West argues for a legal “right to care” [The Subject of Care, edited by Eva Feder Kittay and Ellen K. Feder (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2002), 88]. Given recently published AAUP and MLA white papers on parental leave policy, other more institutionally-based questions might be considered: What are/should be the academic professional’s legal rights when it comes to caring for a disabled dependent?

    • In a system where, as late as 2005, “one in three academic institutions [had] parental-leave policies that violate[d] federal anti-discrimination law” [Joan C. Williams, “Are Your Parental Leave Policies Legal?” Chronicle of Higher Education, Feb. 11, 2005, 2], how can those rights most practically be achieved?
    • Can, and if so, how do caregivers for the disabled achieve work/life balance under these circumstances?
    • Can, should, and to what extent should the professional’s academic institution aid in providing this balance?

    • Pedagogy: Critical Approaches to Teaching Literature, Language, Composition, and Culture is an innovative journal published by Duke University Press that aims to build a new discourse around teaching in English studies. Please submit abstracts with proposed essay length to Susan Campbell Anderson at sanderso@spelman.edu by November 20, 2010. Completed essays will follow the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th ed.

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