Lily Mae’s Response to Jay Timothy Dolmage’s Introduction from “Academic Ablesim; Disability and Higher”

In the academic piece, Academic Ableism: Disability and Higher, Dolmage
introduces the reader to the world of disability and provides the reader with some of
the history surrounding early disability movements. Dolmage gives an insight into the
struggles students with disabilities are still facing within higher education communities
and after reading through Dolmage’s introduction, I chose to focus on the section titled
Snapshot of Exclusion, in order to provide a passage analysis for this assignment. The
key points within this section include the difficult road in acquiring the correct
accommodations those with disabilities may need within universities, as well as, the
higher student debt accrued by students with disabilities in comparison to students
without disabilities.
Schools and universities across the country have accommodations that are
included in their programs for students with certain disabilities to have access to in
order to help them in their road of education. Although the idea behind
accommodations is wonderful, finding the correct accommodations for a student with
disabilities, without help, is a long and often difficult road. Finding the correct
accommodations alone may be difficult for students especially when they are not given
the whole story, “For most students who seek accommodations for our classes, they
aren’t allowed to know what the actual range of accommodations might be” (Dolmage
18). While the practice of offering accommodations in the world of academics is
certainly a big step in the right direction in helping students with disabilities achieve
their degrees, there is certainly more work that should be completed. In order for

students with disabilities to be able to achieve their success in a less complicated
manner there should be more training for those in positions of guidance, as well as,
students should have the opportunity to receive all the information regarding
Dolmage also speaks of the issues of student debt and the financial strain that
are often placed on students with disabilities and how these numbers correspond to
students without disabilities. In this paper, Dolmage explains that students with
disabilities, by the time they graduate, have almost sixty percent more student debt in
comparison to the students without disabilities (Dolmage 15). Dolmage states, “debt is
particularly onerous for students with disabilities who consequently require more time
to complete their degree or diploma and this is a major contributing factor to person
with disabilities having lower application, admission, and graduation rates…” (Dolmage
15). Thusly, students with disabilities often take longer to graduate which means that
their student debt numbers are significantly higher by the time they are able to
graduate. Students with disabilities should not feel so impacted by the student debt
that they may accrue that it steers them away completely from higher education.

There is no doubt that after reading Dolamge’s piece that there is a certain
ableist dynamic in the world of higher education. Students with or without disabilities
should have the same path to their college degree and significant student debt
experienced by some students with disabilities should not be a deterrent from
accomplishing their educational goals. Certain relief programs and scholarships placed
for students with disabilities to receive them would certainly be a step in order to help
make these degrees more attainable because in the world of education there should

certainly not be an ableist dynamic on the road to achieving higher education. College
degrees should be equally as attainable to students with or without disabilities; this
could also aide in the stigma toward disabilities. The inadvertent exclusionary practices
within some universities certainly can be improved upon for students with disabilities
ensuring the same opportunities that those without disabilities have.

Breakout Group 2/9

Hannah Foleck (Writer), Emily Kile, Jessie Harper, Eliana Black,

Keona May

Em: Disability studies have been about having people with disabilities being the subject of research rather than the researchers

H: creating a space where people with disabilities were test subjects

El: Very dehumanizing

Em: There is so little room for people with disabilities in academia, especially the instructor, because people assume that people with disabilities are incompetant and cannot understand higher learning

El: researchers and teachers on the subject tend to not be disabled and the view point becomes biased. Useful to have someone with first hand experience as well as an education

K: representation in this field is so crucial and it is not happening, ex: had tweedy for black women writers, talk about what it means to have a man teaching about women writers. Having the experience of being a part of the movement creates an entirely new narrative. 

El: provides much more impact

J: Having a relativity to the issue ie: disability, even having a disabled person in your family or friend group

El: education is so based on text books and biased research done by people who have never even been around someone with a disability. More real life experiences.

H: physical barriers against people with disabilities theaters in UMW are crazy ex: My class had a project where we checked all theaters and None of them on campus met up with the ADA

J: Accessibility on campus is essentially nonexistence, the excuse of keeping the campus historically accurate to not making the necessary changes is ridiculous. 

K: Would we be considered an ableist society, if people with disabilities created the infrastructure, it only becomes a disability or issue if someone creates a barrier for someone to get through. If ramps were a norm it would not be an issue

Response to Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”

Last Thursday, my group and I talked a lot about Victor’s more subconscious meaning for making the creature. Albeit we were all stumped by the fact that throughout the process of Victor’s engineering he knew exactly step by step what the creature was becoming and how it was being formed, and yet when it is finally finished, Victor detests it. Jessie, Sonia, Keona and I explored his reasonings of his hatred for the creation that he made, and how even though he had the power to change it, he never did. Jessie brought up that Frankenstein was actually his fiancee’s favorite book, and that she had an interesting theory about Victor and his creature. He talked about how the theory was that Victor was actually gay and had intense internalized homophobia, therefore his intentions of making the creation. The theory of hers is that in making the creation, Victor wanted a partner, but the internalized homophobia was what subconsciously motivated Victor to make it ‘hideous.’ In doing so, Victor could feel disgusted by the male gaze and gender, therefore strengthening his homophobia. It was backed up by the fact that Victor also was never seemingly in love with Elizabeth, and even didn’t really mourn after her death. Although none of this has ever been confirmed by Mary Shelley or blatantly expressed in the book, it does pose an interesting viewpoint of Victor’s possible true intentions, and therefore has a lot to explore when reading the book.

Maddie’s Response to Oscar Wilde’s “The Birthday of Infanta”

Disability in literature has been met with numerous issues throughout history. As discussed in papers such as Simi Linton’s “Reassigning Meaning,” it has been an uphill battle to find fair and appropriate representation for those of the disabled community in literature. This change only became noticeable within the last 20 years or so, as political agendas, policies, and overall societal conversations begin to try and shift away from the ableist narrative. Despite it’s more recent rise to the spotlight, Oscar Wilde’s “The Birthday of Infanta,” discusses the lack of understanding and acceptance for members of the disabled community, and how they are often left with the glorification of their disability for amusement.
Wilde’s piece, written in 1891, talks about the ableist bias and lack of understanding exhibited by the general population. For Infanta’s birthday, a circus troupe comes to preform, bringing along all types of wonderful and exciting acts, including “the little Dwarf.” The Dwarf is recognized for the children’s fascination with his “waddling on his crooked legs and wagging his huge misshapen head from side to side” (Wilde 13). The Dwarf, however, finds joy in the amusement he provides to the children, specifically Infanta.
Through his walks in the garden, spurred on by the delight of pleasing Infanta, the Flowers themselves speak to the Dwarf’s “perfect horror,” going so far as to even suggest that his best course of action could be suicide. Instead of focusing on the physical onset of his disability, and the negative words that the Flowers say, just because they don’t find him beautiful, the Dwarf finds his joy with the Birds and the Lizards, who touch their wings to him and accept his presence.
Wilde’s choice to leave the Dwarf finding comfort in the animalistic characters of birds and lizards speaks to the presumed nature of the character himself. He is less than human, left to finding friendship and community with the animals. Anything that represents beauty rejects him.
This extended symbology comes to fruition when the Dwarf encounters his own face in a mirror and begins to interact with “the monster.” The Dwarf isn’t afraid of his own reflection, but instead, recognizes it as “grotesque” before realizing that it mimics him. Instead of turning away, he proceeds to investigate it more, until he realizes that his reflection is standing before him. The Dwarf can’t take this heartbreak and the own rejection of his image. In falling down, sobbing, the children come, and they only find it funny, laughing.
The interaction with the reflection demonstrates that, once again, the Dwarf is fine to be with the “monster,” until he realizes that that is how other people see him. The mirror isn’t a literal mirror, but instead symbolizes a greater realization of how those without disability see him, and what they recognize him for. It’s not the joy and understanding that the birds and lizards recognize in him, instead, it’s the outward image that nobody can look past, much like the Dwarf reaching out and only finding the cold, smooth mirror’s surface.
His death, also continues the same thought, as Infanta leaves with “’For the future let those who come to play with me have no hearts,’” (Wilde 55), removing the idea of any life from the Dwarf at all. Infanta wishes to have similar guests to amuse her but doesn’t wish that they can truly feel, removing the idea of “humanity” from the Dwarf, failing to recognize his heartbreak, its cause, or the joy he gave her in life.

The Creator and the Creation Breakout Group 2/4

Brianna Fridriksson (B), Lanie Taylor (L), Nicholas Bergmeister (N), Aspaisa Sheppard (A)

The Creature: Breakout room 1

B: I think that the first bit of the story where we see, where we get introduced to victor and seeing where the creature begun his origin. It was interesting how the creature was living in the little house attached to the family. It was an ode to a learning disability. How the family took in a girl and started teaching her, while the creature was watching and teaching himself because of how the people would be scared of him. He was on his own in teaching himself, which he is able to teach himself because we see him later being very articulate.

L: I agree. He taught himself and when he stole the books, he taught himself further off of those books.

B: compares to being in another language, where you have to piece in what you know with what you have to figure out things on your own.

A: This might be a bit of a stretch but I feel like the book shows different disabilities or hints of different disabilities. Like Brianna said there’s the learning disability, somewhat of a visual physical disability since it’s a creation and learning to use the different parts.

N: He doesn’t think that the creature has a disability. He looks different, but reminds victor that he is stronger and better than any other human.

B: We can argue either way, it is largely up to interperatation. Looking at both sides, one part, it is victors story, and the other piece where the creature tells his story. The creature has his own mistakes, but is also having to deal with what victor did to him. He was also made up of different parts. The creature could have inhearented something from the parts he was made up of.

A: Agrees that the creature is dealing with the repercussions and consequences because of victor.

B: Marry Shelley is had a lot of children deaths. So that could have affected the story in that way.

L: He wasn’t necessarily “raised” and doesn’t understand right from wrong. Usually if a child is raised by their parent they understand right from wrong, but because the creature wasn’t necessarily raised, he is lacking that right from wrong. So he turns his anger into physical violence.

B: Agrees that he is like a child with an absent parent.

N: He points out that the creature doens’t think he would be accepted, and thats why he wanted someone to have with him. Who accepts him.

B: I think that can come back with disassociation with others who don’t have the disability.

Victor Frankenstein: he Creator: Breakout room 2

L: He is whiney, and is woe is me even though he causes most of his problems

B: We are supposed to simpathize with him because he is human. He created a creature to show that he could even though he didn’t have to

A: I think he was excited to do the creating part of the process but then everything afterwards he was like “yeah no”

L: Why make the creature

B: He sees himself making the creature. like a puzzle, why would he be so scared of the creature coming to life. Its not a beatuty and the situation

L: He might make it to test himself

B: He should have been more happy about the creature

A: I think he sees it as a creation and as science, then when it worked and came to life, he’s shocked. In a way I don’t think he was prepared for what the creature became and what its capable of doing.

B: He didn’t think that the creature wouldn’t have been capable, not so superhuman

B: Sivant syndrome, smart in one field, but doesn’t deal with people.

L: Asperbergs, Victor might have aspebergers, because he becomes so hyper fixed on tasks, is incredibly smart and has social issues. Large bouts of depression and becomes hyper fixiated on tasks. Such as when he was hunting the creature and essentially killed his dogs in the hunt. and almost dying himself.

A: I’m trying to think of an example but the only one I can come up with is kids with toys. They’re excited to get the toy and have the new toy but as soon as it’s unboxed and in their hands, they have already moved on. For the disability lens, he seems disconnected from things that are happening. I’m not sure about what disability(s) Victor has but it’s possibly schizophrenia or asbergers?

N: Thinks more of a character with a personality disorder. When he is talking to the judge, he fits the picture of identity disorder, or illusions. Grandiose, or disillusioned.

B: He is irresponsible, he has a large ego

The Creation and Victor Breakout Groups: 2/4

  • Elena Marshel (E), Lauren Reiff (L), Benjamin Sweeney (B), Kim Eastridge [writer] (K) 
  • The Creation
    • L: didn’t see it as a physical appearance; like a language barrier; inability to communicate
    • E: trying to make it fit disability studies; didn’t start until William died and the Creation’s perspective began that it started to fall into place (the ideas of this being a disability text)
    • K: uncomfortable with the idea of it; feels like an intense stereotype of disabled people but i understand it can be a commentary; kinda saddening to see the comparison of disabled people to the creation
    • L, B, E: connection to Sound of the Fury; novel read in Literary Methods class; included character “Benji” (severely autistic), nonverbal; people treated him as an object, not as a person 
      • E:Disabled people were treated (historically) similar in both texts
      • B: Creation and Benji are both like adult children; not parental figures; appear innocent to them but outwardly appears wrong
      • E: viewing both thru disability lens is helpful; POV from Benji and the Creation; understand that their actions were not malicious, that the deviation from physical norm makes people perceive all of their actions as unsettling; can’t blame Benji for how he acts
      • L: nonlinear perspectives; changes how the reader interprets the characters
      • E: Sound of the Fury, starts from Benji’s perspective and that can be disorientating because neurotypicals could not follow; following thought process of L’s “nonlinear” comment
      • Foss: not physical disability given to him in the text, more mental; but there are examples of descriptive language focused on his physical mobility/movement. We see the sensitivity of the Creation through his POV in the text
    • K: using satire as a form of commentary: wary about it, especially from coming outside of the community, will be perceived as reinforcement of stereotypes
    • E: agreement
    • L: “he’s not human, so is it dehumanizing to compare the Creation to disabled people?”
      • E: literally, yes
    • E: Cottage scene: the Creation could have been accepted if the villagers had perceived him differently; because of their stereotypes against the Creation’s physical deformations, they attacked violently and angrily 
      • E: if disabled people are treated like they are disabled, they will fit those stereotypes because other people are telling them what they are 
    • B: (read text multiple times), didn’t think that mental illness or any of that was hugely effective because he is a scientific creation 
      • B: slow beginning; had to go into without preconceived notions 
    • E: didn’t realize the Creation’s wife was a part of the story; made them made that Victor did not want to finish the wife
    • L: would have been interesting to see
    • K: Completion of the Creation’s wife would have been outside of the gender characters within the novel because all of the women characters play limited roles (emotional); would have been interesting to see the emotional capabilities of the Creation, but we will never know
    • B: discussion of Mary Shelley and Shelley’s family
    • E: wouldn’t know how it compares to other pieces of the same era; Elizabeth has her own emotions/wants/personality
      • Could have been pretty progressive to include these characteristics in the book, maybe not
    • K: I think that during this period was the reformation of writing and women writers where they began to write commentary on women in marriages and the societal expectations of women


  • K: “related” to Victor on how he falls ill when confronted/anxious/in trouble
  • E: not really a good guy or bad guy; everyone has some good aspects and some problematic aspects; related to Victor in the fact that he is human and has these reflexes in facing grief (book began with mother dying)
  • L: how he deals with William 
  • E: think about how Shelley is dealing with grief, had a lot of death in her personal life; ardent need for revenge is like a cautionary tale 
  • B: Shelley’s father died when she was young; had 6 children but only one lived until adult; husband died as well; Creation and Victor had a father son relationship that maybe Shelley could relate to; the anger of someone dying 
  • K: didn’t know about the personal deaths in Shelley’s life; fantasy of creating life through bringing people back to life; as an outlet of her grief
  • E: fantasy of creating life outside of pregnancy; creating a superhuman and the horrors that occur 
    • E: wouldn’t have to go thru the perils of childbirth and the potential death of a newborn/child; fantasy of not having the Creation die
  • L: Austen class; about the romance period; chances of living to 40 was incredibly low 
  • B: Victor represents education through formal practices while the Creation represents learning through experience; informality 
  • E: the Creation is almost a projection of Victor; relates to Harry Potter and how “abnormalities” are dealt with; mutual revenge makes sense as the Creation being a continuation of Victor’s struggles; adversary effects of science  
  • K: educational pathways (discussed by B) correlate to real life experiences of disabled people; the Creation learning through overhearing; lurking in the shadows whereas Victor learns through official passages 
  • L: Negatives of science; education that was just for women where it was focused on social etiquette

Breakout Group 2/2

Kim E., Lauren Lemon, Jessie Harper, Hannah Foleck (writer)

Kim: body positivity movement, getting rid of the negative connotations around words like fat, and being used just as an adjective, same time as the disabilities movement and the body positivity movement, fetishizatiion around the two groups at the same time?

Jessie: All bodies are beautiful, body positivity started in the 1960s, right around the exact same time as the disability movement

Kim: Depending on if fat people will lose weight similar to the kill or cure, people with disabilities are only accepted if they die or can be cured, getting rid of the idea that it is taboo to talk about these things.

Jessie: very social media based, acceptance has come out as we can see people who are physically different from us being very similar to us in our souls. Nice words vs nasty words, is the word special part of the nice words. 

Hannah: special used to be a nice word, but today it has been turned around and used against people who are different from you

Kim: ties into the infantilization of people with disabilities, seen as children their whole lives. All of the nice words are being called that from non-disabled people, not taking into perspective the feelings and ideas of disabled people

Jessie: it fees correct but did you ask anyone who is disabled, “isn’t that special” being turned into “isn’t that dumb”

Lauren: It’s not always visible, making sure the nice words are a part of your normal vocabulary not just specializing how you talk about people based on who you are around

Kim: language is fluctuating, what is PC has changed over the years and learning which words are ok and not ok.

Jessie: the first rule should just be to ask, ask your questions respectfully and learn the right ways to treat respect each person on an individual basis

Kim: retaking over these words and making them into prideful words, disabled people need to be a part of the conversation, outsiders tend to run the conversation and talk over people with disabilities.

Hannah: Invalid vs Invaild, calling people with disabilities literally invalid by naming them something like that.

Kim: We still today have forced sterilization of people with disabilites literally keeping them from reproducing, treating them as less than human in one of the most basic ways. 

Jessie: seeing people as invalid dehumanizes them even to the people who see them as valuable

Kim: testing to see if your baby has disabilities before they are born, can be used to help parents prepare for the financial hardships that that may entail, but this can be taken and used to get rid of babies with disabilities before they are even born, can be used in a very gross way but hopefully gets used in a better way to help prepare 

In the 60s and then resurgence when medicare was slashed, disabled people protesting now for the same things they were protesting for 60 years ago, it sucks to see people fighting for the same things that they have been for years. 

welcome to dis/lit!

Hi, everyone.  Welcome to ENGL 384, Disability and Literature!

Your Canvas course is now published.  I will read through the syllabus and calendar on Tuesday, our first day of class, but you are welcome to browse it beforehand, of course, and send me any questions in the interim.  All of your assignment sheets also already are posted under the Assignments tab if you are interested.

Most importantly, please know that you will “attend” class by clicking on the Zoom tab and then clicking on the appropriate session.  If you do so straight through Canvas, you will not need a passcode or waiting room.  I am teaching two back-to-back sections, so please do make sure you are selecting the correct section/time.

While Canvas will be your access point for our class sessions, this separate course website will serve as our primary base.  You may find the syllabus and all of the assignments here as well as on Canvas.  What is more, you will be posting your written work to this website, and using its blogroll as the primary place for class participation/discussion outside of our synchronous meeting times. Please add the site to your bookmarks tab for easy access.

See you on Zoom this Tuesday!  Best–Dr. Foss