12 February, 2010

Not even white birds

This term I'm taking (among other classes) Intro to Disability Studies and Abnormal Psychology. It seems like it would be easy to guess which class feels inaccessible and othering, but you'd be SUPER wrong. I don't want to be late to class like I normally am when I stupidly post in the morning, so I guess this is sort of a placeholder for a longer post.

But to start: on the first day of Abnormal Psych, at the bottom of the sheet where we had to write our major and previous neuro, psych, and bio experience, the professor wrote: "Anything else you want me to know (quirks, special needs, homicidal tendencies)?" This makes disability into a humorous personality trait that is not intimidating to talk about.

My disability studies professor had a section on the syllabus that said "Students with Disabilities," informing us that if we need accommodations, we can contact the Disability Services office. The previous section was a very long list of things that the professor will not accept: work that is late, work that is not a typed hard copy, work that is not in Chicago Style. My intent isn't to say "CHICAGO STYLE IS OPPRESSING ME" but I feel that if a class is incredibly obsessed with rules, that makes it less accessible. And I don't think this has anything to do with me being a lazy student, or something. I expect to have to work much harder in Abnormal Psych--a class where the professor cheerfully announced, "I used to be a hardass about deadlines, but I'm not anymore. A lot of things happen to people."

I should mention my disability studies professor doesn't have a disability, and neither does almost everyone in the class. The professor keeps saying we shouldn't talk about individual disabilities, just the way society constructs the "normal body." This makes me feel very alienated and unwelcome in the class, if that makes sense. We're basically studying nondisabled people. I'm sort of staying in for reasons of curiosity. Ironically, my abnormal psych professor told us that he has had mental illness, and he is spending a lot of time talking about different models of mental illness and whether mental illness is "real." The abnormal psych class is actually more like what I thought a disability studies class would be.

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