Breaks and Ruptures: Cripping the Reading of Resistance

  • Maria Karmiris PhD student OISE, University of Toronto
Keywords: crip theory, reading, resistance, relationality, intellectual disabilities, ableism, elementary curriculum


With the support of the work of scholars in critical disability studies, crip theory, and poststructuralism, my intention in this paper is to explore some narrative fragments of my experiences teaching ‘Leonard’ and the ways we both accepted and resisted each other. Judith Butler’s question: “What does it mean to require what breaks you?”, will be central to investigating our mutual dependency on each other in ways that emphasize the tensions between my ‘authority’ as a teacher and his ‘resistance’ as a student. The first part of this paper will apply the work of critical disability studies scholars such as Erevelles (2011, 2013), Titchkosky (2008) and Gabel et al (2013), as a way to contextualize and orient my relation to Leonard within an educational landscape that reads Leonard as a problem that needed fixing (presumably by me as the teacher). The second part of this paper will seek to ‘crip’ the image of the teacher ‘fixing’ the ‘problem’ child and demonstrate the ways this story is perpetually, always and already disrupted and failing. In applying the work of McRuer (2006) among others, the intent in this section is to explore how resistance in both its passive and active forms is necessary in both the (re)forming and breaking of the distinct yet linked subject positions that Leonard and I inhabit. The final section of this paper will turn to the work of Mitchell et al (2014) and their conceptualization of cripistemologies as desiring failure as resistance to success, alongside a retelling of my persistence in the face of Leonard’s resistance. Ultimately the intention of this paper is to make a contribution to critical disability studies and crip theory by exploring both the limits and potential of the intertwining ‘matrix of relations’ Butler (2015) offers as hopeful possibility.

Author Biography

Maria Karmiris, PhD student OISE, University of Toronto
PhD student OISE, University of Toronto


Butler, J. (2004). Precarious life: The powers of mourning and violence. London: Verso.
Butler, J. (2015). Senses of the subject. New York: Fordham University Press.
Erevelles, N. (2011). "Coming out crip" in inclusive education. Teachers College Record, 113(10), 2155- 2185.
Erevelles, N. (2013) Ch. 8 (Im)Material Citizens: Cognitive Disability, Race, And The Politics Of Citizenship. In Wappett M., Arndt K. (Eds.), Foundations of disability studies. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan. 145- 176.
Freire, Paulo. (1983). “The Importance of the Act of Reading” Journal of Education. Vol 165(1) 5-11.
Halberstam, J. (2011). The queer art of failure. Durham: Duke University Press.
Hill Collins, P. (2009). Black feminist thought: Knowledge, consciousness, and the politics of empowerment. New York: Routledge.
Gabel, S. L., Cohen, C. J., Kotel, K., & Pearson, H. (2013). Intellectual disability and space: Critical narratives of exclusion. Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 51(1), 74-80.
McRuer, R. (2006). Crip theory: Cultural signs of queerness and disability. New York: New York University Press.
Mitchell, D. T., Snyder, S. L., & Ware, L. (2014). [Every] child left behind: Curricular cripistemologies and the Crip/Queer art of failure. Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies, 8(3), 295-314.
Titchkosky, Tanya. (2008). “’I Got Trouble with my Reading’: An Emerging Literacy” In Gabel S. L., Danforth S. (Eds.), Disability & the politics of education: An International Reader. New York: P. Lang. 337- 352.
Van Hove, G., Gabel, S. L., De Schauwer, E., Mortier, K., Van Loon, J., Loots, G., Claes, L. (2012). Resistance and resilience in a life full of professionals and labels: Narrative snapshots of Chris. Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 50(5), 426-35.