Instructor: Christine Chisholm

Introduction: This course will introduce students to the growing field of disability history. Together we will consider the representation and understanding of disability as it changes over time and as it is portrayed and experienced in changing cultural contexts. This course will address disability in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and, differentiating between medical and cultural interpretations, will confront the social construction(s) of disability.  A focus will be placed on North American literature and case studies will foreground the Canadian context. In addition to relevant theoretical discussions and diverse analytical methods, we will consider several case studies that will help make visible the various lived experiences of people with disabilities, highlighting the causes and effects of discrimination, exclusion and marginalization, as well as resistance to such treatment. Other topics, such as material aspects of disability as well as policies, will also be part of the syllabus. Students will furthermore have a chance to engage with public history initiatives that pertain to the course contents.

Class Format: The class be an online class with lectures that can be viewed at your discretion before the set discussion day. Discussions will occur via cuLearn.

Aims and Goals:

  1. Become familiar with the arguments, methods, theories and approaches of the disability history field.
  2. Understand disabilities as a social construct.
  3. Research and document the history of one particular aspect, topic or time period in the history of disabilities.
  4. Engage with non-traditional historical sources and comparative studies.

Assessment: Students will be graded based on their participation in class discussions, written tests, and other written assignments (including a term paper).

Text: Readings are yet to be determined. There will not be a textbook for this course.

Questions? Please email me at: