Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

Disability Studies and the Future of the Humanities

Prof. Thomas Couser.

Disability is a fundamental facet of human diversity--people with disabilities make up the largest minority in the U.S. population--yet it lags behind race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and class in recognition inside and outside the academy. Disability has its own history (or histories) and culture(s) which deserve to be studied in their own right.
Disability Studies is not limited to the study of disabled people as a distinct population, however; rather, it involves the comprehensive investigation of disability as a cultural construct that undergirds social practices and cultural representations. As contemporary Disability Studies scholars view it, then, disability is a significant and powerful cultural category; like race and gender, disability is a cultural construct (or system of representation) that assigns traits to individuals--and discriminates among them--on the basis of bodily differences.
My presentation will argue for the value and pertinence of Disability Studies, drawing especially on my expertise as a scholar and critic of life writing.


Prof. Thomas Couser  (United States)
Professor of English

Hofstra University

G. T. Couser has a PhD in American Civilization. He is the author of four books: American Autobiography: The Prophetic Mode (Massachusetts, 1979); Altered Egos: Authority in American Autobiography (Oxford, 1989); Recovering Bodies: Illness, Disability, and Life Writing (1997); and Vulnerable Subjects: Ethics and Life Writing (2004). He is a professor English and Director of Disability Studies at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY.0

  • Disability
  • Diversity
  • Culture
  • Representation

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)