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Scholar in Critical Disability Studies to Present Greenfield Lecture


JONESBORO – The annual Greenfield Lecture, presented by the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, will be Thursday, Oct. 3, at Arkansas State University.

A presentation in the Lecture-Concert Series, the Greenfield Lecture is funded through an endowment established by Drs. Rosalee and Raymond Weiss of Teaneck, N. J., in memory of her mother, Corinne Sternheimer Greenfield, whose family lived in Jonesboro.

Dr. Rosemarie Garland Thomson of Atlanta, a national authority on disability issues, will make a presentation on critical disability studies at 6:30 p.m. in the Carl R. Reng Student Union Auditorium.

Admission is free and the public is invited to this and all other presentations in the Lecture-Concert Series.

“Rosemarie Garland Thomson has probably done more than any other scholar in the field to develop and promote critical disability studies in the humanities,” according to Dr. Lauri Umansky, dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at A-State.  “She is a trailblazer, an indefatigable one. Her presentation is not to be missed.”

Thomson will describe and explore critical disability studies as an interdisciplinary academic field of inquiry that expands health science perspectives.

In her lecture, she will examine the understanding 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.

The field of critical disability studies seek to define, defamiliarize, and challenge such cultural concepts as “normal,” “ideal,” “abnormal,” and “grotesque.”

Thomson's work defines disability “as bodily variations that are interruptions or departures from a standard script of human form, function, behavior, or perception that in contemporary thought we call normal.”

Social disadvantages of disability are not caused by a devalued trait itself, but rather from disabled people’s interactions with unaccommodating environments.

Thomson is professor of English and women's, gender, and sexuality studies at Emory University, where her fields of study are feminist theory, American literature, and disability studies.

Her work develops the field of disability studies in the humanities and in women's and gender studies and seeks to develop an understanding of disability issues and identities.

She is author of “Staring: How We Look” and “Extraordinary Bodies: Figuring Physical Disability in American Literature and Culture”; co-editor of “Re-Presenting Disability: Museums and the Politics of Display” and “Disability Studies: Enabling the Humanities”; and editor of “Freakery: Cultural Spectacles of the Extraordinary Body.”

Her current book projects include “Habitable Worlds: Eugenic Logic and Inclusive Logic,” which places materialist analysis of the built environment in conversation with eugenic practices and thought, and a work on disability in film.

The Lecture-Concert Series serves Arkansas State University and the surrounding communities in bringing notable guest speakers and performers of diverse backgrounds to campus, according to Dr. Tim Crist, chair of the Lecture-Concert Committee.  The Series supports the university mission to educate leaders, enhance intellectual growth and enrich lives.

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Dr. Rosemarie Thomson
Dr. Rosamarie Garland Thomson