Congratulations to University of Waterloo English’s Dr. Jay Dolmage, whose new book, Academic Ableism Disability and Higher Education, is forthcoming from University of Michigan Press, fall 2017. In it, Dr. Dolmage will “explore architecture, the logics of accommodation and its defeat devices, universal design and usability, multimodality, racism, eugenics and rape culture, sick buildings, digital curbcuts, checklistification, neurorhetorics, “wellness,” and even popular films about college life — among other things.” This is then linked to what he identifies as “current (and distressing) developments in education policy.” An excerpt:
“Disability has always been constructed as the inverse or opposite of higher education. Or, let me put it differently: higher education has needed to create a series of versions of “lower education” to justify its work and to ground its exceptionalism, and the physical gates and steps that we find on campuses trace a long history of exclusion.
For most of the 20th century, people with disabilities were institutionalized in asylums, “schools” for the “feeble-minded” and other exclusionary institutions, locations that became the dark shadows of the college or university, connected with residential schools, prisons, quarantines, and immigration stations in these shadows. These locations also had steep steps and ornate gates, meant to hold the public out and to imprison people within, or to isolate disabled people as research subjects, ensuring that the excluded couldn’t mix with others within society; they were connected in a perverse way to the hope that the elite would mingle and mix with one another exclusively in colleges and universities. Further, the ethic of higher education encourages students and teachers alike to accentuate ability, valorize perfection, and stigmatize anything that hints at intellectual (or physical) weakness.”
The book will be available for free, online, accessibly, in Fall 2017.