SJE2030H: Disability Studies and the Human Imaginary


This course theorizes the meaning of “human.” It does so by developing conversations between disability studies and key theorists who have raised the question of the human imaginary, herein regarded as culturally structured images that govern people’s interactions. As a way to guide our understanding of the restricted character of the human imaginary resulting from colonial/settler power, we turn to various scholars (including Sylvia Wynter, Thomas King, Frantz Fanon, W.E.B. DuBois, Audre Lorde, Paul Gilroy, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Harold Vizenor, Hannah Arendt, Edward Said, Ralph Ellison, Austin Clarke, Octavia Butler). Bringing disability studies praxis into conversation with these writers, the course will trace the meaning made of the human through two questions. First, what consequences has a restricted human imaginary imposed on the practices and institutions enacting disability in everyday life? Second, what place does disability occupy in the work of those who have theorized a restricted human imaginary? Working with these two questions, the overall aim of the course is to consider how social justice education might better attune itself to Fanon’s (1967) provocation, “Oh my body, make of me always a [hu]man who questions!”

Social Justice Education