Firing Up Disability Studies: A Report from the Edges of the Human Community

  • Tanya Titchkosky University of Toronto, OISE
Keywords: Interpretation, Disability Studies Summer Institute, Recognition, Human, Becoming, Crisis, Evacuation


This paper provides a report on first international Disability Studies Summer Institute hosted by the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) of the University of Toronto, July, 2011.  This report, reflective in character, narrates some ways that the Institute developed a critical understanding of “disability studies” that enabled attendees to re-encounter current conceptions of “problem” and of “people” and to re-think the relations between the two. This report discusses both keynote material and the experience of an evacuation because of a fire during the Institute.  My aim is to reveal some of the ways disability is conceptualized, lived, and theorized as food for thought that can lead to further questions regarding the meaning of persons within the human community.

Author Biography

Tanya Titchkosky, University of Toronto, OISE

After almost a decade of teaching Sociology and Disability Studies at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia, Tanya Titchkosky is now in the new Department of Humanities, Social Science and Social Justice Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto. Making use of her lived experience of dyslexia and her commitment to interpretive sociology, Tanya is helping to develop the inter-disciplinary presence of disability studies across the University of Toronto.  She is author of numerous articles and three books: The Question of Access: Disability, Space, Meaning (2011), Reading and Writing Disability Differently: The Textured Life of Embodiment (2007), and Disability, Self and Society (2003). Her theorizing and her politics hold that made by culture, disability is a prime site to examine the makings of culture.  In particular, she is examining how university life and knowledge production organize conceptions of disability and aspects of humanness thus influencing our collective lives as embodied beings. Tanya's work is currently supported by a standard SSHRC grant, with co-investigator Rod Michalko with whom she also edited Rethinking Normalcy: A Disability Studies Reader (2009).

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