HIST 4303B: Disability History and Perspectives
Fall 2023

Instructor: Dr. Kira Smith

Over the course of the semester, we will examine the historical experiences of people with disabilities in Canada. We’ll look at a variety of histories and topics including cultural productions like freakshows, institutions for people with disabilities, immigration and citizenship, disability activism, representation in historical fiction, and disability art. Our class discussions and learnings will benefit from ideas and theories from Critical Disability Studies in order to encourage a multi-disciplinary and intersectional approach the past. In examining Canadian history from a disability perspective, we will challenge ideas of compulsory able-bodiedness, incarceration, dependency, and normalcy.

Additionally, learning about disability history in Canada will lend itself to understanding and interpreting important conversations about disability and disability activism today. In addressing the historical experiences of disability in Canada, we will make important links to current political and cultural conversations within disability communities and the public sphere.

By the end of the course, students should have a good sense of not only disability in Canadian society and culture, but also how to crip historical methods and practice.

Course Format & Assessments

This class will meet weekly for a three-hour period where we will discuss the assigned reading(s). It is important to come to class having completed the reading(s). On occasion, some class time may be dedicated to workshops and/or project time.

Assignments may include:

  1. Participation & Oral Presentations
  2. Research Creation Project & Proposal
  3. Short Written Assignments

A Note on Access

In teaching this course, I am committed to disability justice and radical access. This course is intended for all Carleton students, including those with any mental, physical, sensory, or cognitive disabilities. Therefore, it is important that this class is accessible and adaptable for everyone. I will do my best to create an environment that is barrier-free. However, if you experience any academic barriers, or have any concerns, please reach out to me. If you find that you need accommodations or alternatives to lectures, discussions, activities, or assignments, we will work together to find a solution. All formal accommodations will be honoured but are not required to make a request.