Replying, referring back to conversations, listening and responding. As we curated this 42.1 issue, our attention drew to the dialogic back-and-forth at the center of our academic and activist praxes. And, too, we understand dialogue at the center of each article in this issue. The authors connect with others and from that conversation, they extend, revise, amplify, and challenge. They participate and create. The process of replying involves reaching backward and suggesting forward.
Re-lated importantly to our theme this issue, the presentation of our online journal system has undergone a significant re-design. The whole interface of the journal now looks and navigates quite differently with a major upgrade to a very outdated "Open Journal System" (OJS) we have been using with the Ohio State University Libraries (DSQ's publisher since 2006). We're all re-vamped and re-energized in 2022 with a new volume 42!
We also want to give a HUGE THANK YOU to the peer reviewers of 2021. We absolutely could not facilitate the feedback process without you. We realize that these last two pandemic-challenged years have caused quite a disruption to the practices –the labor, the commitment, the time needed–for peer reviewing across the entire academic landscape. Here at DSQ we have remained patient and grateful for the impactful, but so often uncelebrated and unacknowledged, backstage work of peer reviewers. We truly *heart* you, peer reviewers.
We've arranged the articles in the issue around topics and conversations to which the authors reply and re-conceptualize: media, education, interdependence, and theory. As you engage this issue, we encourage you to read for the "re:'s" and the "re-'s" yourself.
Elisa Shaholli utilizes Roland Barthes' theories of myth-making and Martin F. Norden's disability archetypes to read for representations of disability in the sci-fi/fantasy film series Star Wars. She studies how these myths, archetypes, and representations have changed over time. Like Holcomb and Latham-Mintus (in this issue), Shaholli discovers that disability often serves a metaphorical purpose – as the embodiment of evil or as a parable on prosthetic technology and dehumanization. However, Shaholli also finds that the most recent Star Wars installment, Rogue One, departs from these tropes and carves new paths forward for disability representation.
Eduardo Ledesma offers a close multi-sensory analysis of (blind) Chilean filmmaker, Maria Teresa Larrain's film, La niña sombra [Shadow Girl]. Ledesma illustrates how this documentary and autobiographical film disrupts vision as the primary way of engaging a cinematic experience. Larrain's personal documentary maps both her journey into blindness and her return to her exiled home in Chile. Ledesma's essay explores this personal-political journey while it also sets forth the concept of "haptic visuality" as a transgressive technique Larrain develops in both the film's form and content.
Adam Cetorelli's "Entering "the Dimension of Imagination": The Twilight Zone's Tales of Madness" reads three episodes of the TV series for their representations of madness as compulsory able-mindedness within the context of mid-20th century American rationality, conformity, capitalist labor, and models of institution-based care. Cetorelli's extensive analysis adds to existing understandings of The Twilight Zone by focusing on the ways that madness is used as more than a tool for cultural critique; characters experience actual madness, at the same time madness is used as a metaphor.
Jeanne Holcomb and Kenzie Latham-Mintus analyze 20 Disney and Pixar films released between 2008 and 2018 to understand whether their representations of disability had become more progressive, positive, and inclusive. They found that characters with disabilities are still overwhelmingly used as narrative prosthesis and are portrayed negatively, as evil, pitiable, or objects of ridicule. Holcomb and Latham-Mintus' article provides a comprehensive analysis of recent, widely known representations of disability that are accessible to readers new to and familiar with disability studies.
Erin Pritchard analyzes casting practices for dwarfs in UK theater productions of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. She critiques the effects of casting people with dwarfism, average height adults, and children respectively, and she uses theories of humor woven with personal experience to reveal ways theater productions can perpetuate damaging stereotypes.
Emunah Woolf and Alise de Bie provide a trenchant critique of individualistic approaches to student self-advocacy in literature on disabled students in postsecondary education. Their qualitative study of a research-intensive Canadian University aims to politicize self-advocacy by revealing the ableism inherent to a deficit-based approach to self-advocacy. This study foregrounds the voices of disabled students and regards them as partners in research when formulating accessibility policy for student services and staff training.
Meg Peters offers an analysis of accessibility procedures at the University of Ottawa following the transition to online learning in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 crisis. Peters argues that the University of Ottawa adopted newly flexible accessibility policies only when such policies were deemed universally necessary for all students, not only students with disabilities. She proposes a proactive merging of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy (CSP) to better anticipate a range of learners with diverse access needs, rather than relying on reactive, ad hoc policies, in an effort to more comprehensively care for disabled, BIPOC, gender diverse, and queer students.
Amanda Miller and Mina Chun's qualitative study of two college students with intellectual disabilities deepens the field's understanding of students' experiences with transitioning to college. Miller and Chun examine support during these students' transitions as multi-faceted, coming from pre-existing and self-supplied sources, peer mentors, and the university. Their findings suggest implications for more accessible courses and university programs/services.
Thom Paul Nevill and Martin Forsey examine the devolution of shifting responsibility for the inclusion of disabled children in western Australia's school system through two rich case studies of young adults diagnosed as dyslexic. The significant role parents play in establishing and sustaining this inclusion is critically questioned.
Re: Interdependence with Others and Environments
Drawing from Rosemarie Garland-Thomson's concept of the misfit and "misfitting," Anna Catherine Stenning reads the autobiographical writings of Chris Packham, Greta Thunberg, and Tito Mukhopadhyay as they explore the intra-action between humans and their environments. Stenning's essay attends to the ways that autistic self-narratives are framed, and how they suggest the "emergence of alternative strategies of nonnormative living" that include writing itself.
Glen Norcliffe, Ron Buliung, Annika Kruse, and John Radford adopt a Linnaean classificatory approach to chart seven types of cycles that have been used by disabled people over time. They read the relationship between disabled users and cycles through social models of disability and the social construction of technology (SCOT) to document the dynamic relationship between disabled people and technicians, the proliferation of user-based design, and the many roles that cycling has played in the lives of disabled people.
Silvia Soler Gallego's comprehensive study provides an in-depth, qualitative analysis of verbal descriptions provided by art museums as access resources for blind visitors. Her article grows out of ongoing research and focuses on forty-eight museums in four countries (France, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States); her analysis separates communicative features from social features of verbal descriptions, and her detailed discussion explores the diversity of approaches used by art museums to design an accessible visitor experience. Ultimately, Soler Gallego suggests future practices for designing access that are based on sustained feedback, as opposed to short-term consulting.
Eleanor Badcock and Dikaios Sakellariou present findings from a study of communication issues between learning disabled people and their caregivers. They conducted semi-structured and symbol exchange interviews with participant sets (a person with a learning disability and their family caregivers). Their findings focus on communication barriers with professionals, and they report on participants' desire for a greater range of non-verbal communication methods, relaxed interactions, and respectful and transparent discussions about care.
In an extended thought experiment, Sharrona Pearl asks, "Can there be dyslexia without reading?," among a number of other philosophical provocations. Pearl knits together disability studies, media studies, and the history and sociology of medicine to trouble the self-evidence of somatic and neurological conditions that rely on certain technology, media, and the built environment for their identification. She encourages us to consider how disability is always mediated by the historically contingent environments that mediate it and make it in/visible.
Intervening in the debates over PAS as a "right to choose," Jan Grue employs philosophical and rhetorical frameworks to explore the biopolitical, thanatopolitical, and "parrhesiastic rhetoric" nature of these arguments and narratives. Grue also demonstrates how this rhetorical strategy and its narrative frameworks create distant sympathy rather than closer identification and therein, how they support a neoliberal conception of autonomy of the subjects in PAS debates as rational and self-directing.
Using multimodal Conversation Analysis, Elle Felicity Henderson works to revise the conventional understanding that autistic individuals experience hyper- or hyposensitivity of touch and therein, generally aim to avoid touch. Focusing on interaction and conversational moments where a child (labeled as autistic) resists, abandons, or misunderstands a "cuddle" from their parent, Henderson suggests that the difficulty in touch for these autistic children was not always, or necessarily, "touch sensitivity" but perhaps more about the courses of action that social touch might impede in that moment.
This issue ends with Nancy Scott's creative piece, "To Word-Will a Room," which lets the reader in on the poet's perspective at a live reading. Scott describes her experience of reading and navigating the space as a blind woman who is older than the other readers and audience members.
8/24/2022: Corrected author's name to Elle Felicity Henderson in text.