Narrating Disability Inside and Outside the Clinic: Or, Beyond Empathy
Prof. G. Thomas Couser
Date: Wednesday 12 March, 2014
Place: Eden 109, Liverpool Hope University, UK
The persistent devaluing of the lives of disabled persons, as periodically
manifested in news accounts of abuse and neglect, underscores the value of
disability life writing. Outside the clinic, disability memoirs have become
surprisingly popular; indeed, at least in the USA, their proliferation has
helped to spur the memoir boom. But the voices of disabled people especially
need to be heard and reckoned with in medical schools, to complement and
counterbalance the medical paradigm. It is not enough for medical personnel
to empathize, or attempt to identify, with disabled patients, however; in
order to fully serve the needs of their patients, they need to make
cognitive—rather than affective—adjustments. Functioning as what Prof.
Couser calls “quality-of-life writing,” disability narrative can play a
major role in the reorientation of medical professionals.
G. Thomas Couser retired in 2011 from Hofstra University, where he was a
professor of English and founding director of the Disability Studies
Program. His books include Recovering Bodies: Illness, Disability, and Life
Writing (1997), Vulnerable Subjects: Ethics and Life Writing (2004),
Signifying Bodies: Disability in Contemporary Life Writing (2009), and
Memoir: An Introduction (2012).
This seminar is part of the new CCDS series, The Voice of Disability. Other
21st May, The Reality and Rhetoric of Pupil Voice: Exploring the Educational
Journeys of Young People Labelled with Behavioural, Emotional, and Social
Difficulties, Marie Caslin.
25th June, Young DaDa: Evaluating Participation in the Arts, Claire Penketh.
For further information please contact:
Dr David Bolt