The pieces in this volume mark movements —acts of changing locations or positions, illustrations of activism, demonstrations of arrivals and departures, changes and developments in personal and institutional spaces, and mappings of the progression and arcs of stories, situations, and social justices. Many of the pieces in this issue also evoke and enact Aurora Levins Morales' "medicine stories" (1998, 2019) and G. Thomas Couser's "autopathography" — "a sign of cultural health—an acknowledgment and an exploration of our condition as embodied selves" (1991).

Jameel Hampton's article provides a new perspective on radical disability rights activism in Britain in the 1970s. Through an in-depth analysis of a 1976 issue of Peace News, an activist publication, Hampton demonstrates that disabled people pushed back against discriminatory practices within the welfare state earlier than current histories account for. Carrie Elizabeth Mulderink examines contemporary disability activism at work on social media. Specifically, she analyzes the function of the #DisabilityTooWhite hashtag and the ways Disability Studies as a field unwittingly perpetuates racism.

The attention to activism continues in the third article by Floyd Emerson Morris, who provides a picture of global disability politics, grounded in the local context of Kingston, Jamaica. Morris assesses the accessibility of locations around the city, and he offers recommendations for Anglophone Carribean governments to create more accessible cities by including the perspectives of disabled people in their planning. In another change-making move, Nathan Frank pushes disability theory and literary disability studies to complicate their readings of fictional disabled characters. He engages the question of how a character's disability may or may not matter to the reader's understanding of the character's behavior, and he ultimately challenges the field to avoid essentialist moves.

This issue features two creative works sandwiched in the middle of eight articles. Both creative nonfiction pieces function as autopathography; they reflect on embodiment and write the body in ways that talk back to institutional, oppressive structures. Cara Goldberg's piece is a compilation of reflections in different genres, including diary entries and shape poetry, about pain and "treatment" within medical and rehabilitative paradigms. Sasha A. Khan offers a medicinal history, as she calls it, in her "unspooling of the self and ableist/sanist definitions of (dis)ability and madness." Parts of her work resonate with Carrie Sandahl's installation featured in Vital Signs: Crip Culture Talking Back, in the way Khan literally writes medical discourse on the body.

Each of the last four articles report on qualitative research projects set in American educational/institutional spaces where personal movement and the possibilities for, and challenges to, social and educational justice emerge. Pamela Saunders dives deep into the everyday activism and repeated rhetorical performances of (autistic) disclosure for one college student. She maps the progressions, changes, challenges and arcs for this student in his engagement and "temporal expertise" with educational/institutional life. Marisa Kofke studies the specific ways in which undergraduate Disability Studies courses transform or move students' understanding of disability. This article has a dual focus on students' reflective work (and analyzes reflective writing by 69 students over two semesters) and on instructors' pedagogical choices. It provides a detailed description of a Disability Studies course at Kofke's university that will interest readers who are planning or teaching similar courses.

Also reflective, Shehreen Iqtadar et al.'s article provides a rich qualitative research synthesis (QRS) of 13 qualitative studies of the educational/institutional and lived experience of K-16 students of color with disabilities spanning a 12-year period (2006-2018). Their analysis centers on themes of resistance and illustrates student encounters with "psycho-emotional disablism" as these students move through and against the master narratives surrounding their intersectional identities and embodiments. This issue ends with another qualitative study conducted by David J. Connor and his coauthors about support for learning disabled (LD) students as they graduate from high school. Connor et al. report on interviews from forty high school students and provide recommendations for Disability Studies in Education and for anyone improving support for LD students. Both Iqtadar's and Connors' co-authored articles front student voices and experiences as the pivot for their research, making use of quotations from a student as the re-mastered narrative that leads their titles.

Works Cited

  • Couser, G. Thomas. "Autopathography: Women, Illness, and Lifewriting." a/b: Auto/biography Studies 6.1 (1991): 65-75.
  • Morales, Aurora Levinas. Medicine Stories: Essays for Radicals. (2nd ed.) Duke UP, 2019.

Correction notice:

Correction of:

Our editorial introduction for the 40.1 (2020) issue incorrectly cited the publisher for Jay Dolmage's Disability Rhetoric. The correct publisher should read: Syracuse UP.

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Copyright (c) 2020 Brenda Brueggemann, Elizabeth Brewer Olson

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