Critical Disability Studies Workshop

The Human Rights, Gender and Sexuality Cluster of the Transforming Human Societies RFA invites you to a workshop presented by Professor Rosemarie Garland-Thomson. This workshop is supported by the La Trobe Law School and the Living with Disabilities Research Centre, La Trobe University.

This workshop describes and explores Critical Disability Studies as an interdisciplinary academic field of inquiry in the United States. During the session Professor Thomson-Garland will:

  • examine understandings of disability from cultural perspectives such as: civil and human rights, minority identity, diversity, social justice, sociology, historic and community studies, bioethics, and the arts.
  • seek to define, defamiliarise, and challenge cultural concepts of the “normal,” “ideal,” “abnormal,” and” grotesque,” among others.
  • demonstrate that the social disadvantages of disability are not caused by a devalued trait itself but rather from disabled people’s interactions with unaccommodating environments.
  • investigate various models that are frequently deployed to understand or describe disability, including: the moral, medical, social, cultural, and materials models.
  • seek to understand eugenic logic, critically addresses the history of eugenic beliefs and practices, and challenge new manifestations of eugenics in our contemporary world.

Professor’s Rosemarie Garland-Thomson work within Critical Disability Studies defines disability as bodily variations that are departures from a standard script of human form, function, behavior, or perception that in contemporary thought we call normal. The discrepancy between body and world, between what is expected and what is, produces disability as a way of being devalued and believed to yield a diminished quality of life.

Critical Disability Studies (and Professor’s Garland-Thomson work within it) advocates narrative, accommodation (rather than elimination) of the human variations we call disability and counter-eugenic logic, and argues that human variation can yield subjugated knowledge and innovative adaptations that contribute to the value of our shared world.


Rosemarie Garland-Thomson is Professor of English and Co-Director of the Disability Studies Initiative at Emory University. Her fields of study are disability studies, American literature and culture, bioethics, and women’s studies. Her work develops the field of critical disability studies in the health humanities, broadly understood, to bring forward disability access, inclusion and identity to communities inside and outside of the academy.


Date: Wednesday 8 April 2015

Time: 12pm to 2pm

Venue: Martin Building, Level 3, Room 362A, La Trobe University, Bundoora

Cost: Free

RVSP: A light lunch will be provided. Please indicate your dietary requirements to ths@latrobe.edu.au

For more information about the event download the workshop flyer.

Marc Trabsky