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Disability Life Writing and the Politics of Knowing


by Beth A. Ferri — 2011

Background/Context: Scholars in disability studies in education, like scholars in other critical fields of inquiry, increasingly draw on a more interdisciplinary range of texts in their research and teaching, including art, fiction, film, and autobiography.

Purpose/Objective/Research Question/Focus of Study: The author asserts that contemporary disability life writing can and should be read with view to challenging a tangle of oppressive ideologies and destabilizing any claim to a normative or fixed center. Autobiography as a genre, however, requires a particular set of critical reading practices to fully illuminate myriad ways in which these texts can serve as important and politically grounded counternarratives to the dominant discourse. Read critically, these texts have the potential to unravel the myth of normalcy that undergirds so many of the exclusionary practices in education.

Research Design: Analytic essay.

Conclusions/Recommendations: A critical disability studies approach requires more than the infusion of different kinds of texts; it also requires the incorporation of diverse methods of analysis and theoretical framing of those texts in order to fully appreciate their transgressive potential.



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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 113 Number 10, 2011, p. 2267-2282
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 16433, Date Accessed: 6/27/2017 8:19:32 PM

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About the Author
  • Beth Ferri
    Syracuse University
    E-mail Author
    BETH A. FERRI is an associate professor in inclusive education and disability studies at Syracuse University. Her recent articles have appeared in Teachers College Record, International Journal of Inclusive Education, Gender & Education, Disability Studies Quarterly, and Disability & Society. Her book, written with David J. Connor, titled Reading Resistance: Discourses of Exclusion in Desegregation and Inclusion Debates, chronicles how problematic rhetorics of race and dis/ability were used to maintain and justify segregated education after the Brown decision. She is currently working on an edited book, Righting Educational Wrongs: Disability Studies Law and Education (Syracuse University Press).
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