4/11/2020: Anti-Ableist Roundup

Hi, friends. It’s been a while since I’ve posted a feature, so I am posting what I am calling an “Anti-Ableist Roundup” to make up for that. I hope you are safe and have the resources you need. Please contact me if I can help you in any way.

Lauren E. Obermark. (2019) “Making Space for the Misfit: Disability and Access in Graduate Education in English.” College English 82(2): 173-203.

Lauren Obermark’s “Making Space for the Misfit: Disability and Access in Graduate Education in English” is the best article I’ve read that explicitly talks about the ableism of graduate education in our field(s) in specific, tangible ways. This text will be central to our work.

Neil Simpkins. (2018). “Towards an Understanding of Accommodation Transfer: Disabled Students’ Strategies for Navigating Classroom Accommodations.” Composition Forum 39.

Abstract: This article offers the term “accommodation transfer” as a way to understand the rhetorical skills disabled students transfer alongside writing knowledge as they access college writing assignments and writing classrooms. This study is based on five qualitative interviews with disabled college students and draws upon both writing transfer research and disability studies. The author explores how participants adapted writing process knowledge and learned how to negotiate their accommodation needs with instructors across their academic careers. Specifically, these negotiations include assessing instructors’ stances towards disability and testing effective genres and vocabulary to communicate about disability with instructors. The article concludes with two suggestions for cripping teaching for transfer: embracing and teaching crip time for writing, and highlighting the relationship between mentorship and interdependence.

Jay Dolmage. Twitter Thread on Eugenics. April 9, 2020.

Amy Vidali. (2020). “The Biggest Little Ways Toward Access: Thinking with Disability in Site-Specific Rhetorical Work.” Review of Communication 20(2): 161-169.

Abstract: This essay examines what thinking with disability brings to site-specific rhetorical work, which is work where rhetoricians gather to study location-related texts. Adapting the rhetorical triangle, I suggest that this work is fundamentally about the relationships between communicators, texts, and audiences, and my focus on the importance of including the perspectives of disabled and/or disability activists adds the “angle” of access. This “angle” requires reconsideration of how texts, speakers, and audiences connect and interact, as inaccessibility hinders and/or excludes some communicators, disregards some audiences, and renders some texts illegible. At the same time, thinking with disability in site-specific rhetorical work provides opportunities to support communities of disability scholars and scholarship, to create and implement accessible rhetorical methods, and to imagine inclusion as an iterative and fluid process. To examine these ideas, the essay shifts between articulating general principles and methodologies and offering specific examples from the Disability and Accessibility working group at the 2019 Rhetoric Society of America Project in Power, Place, and Publics at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Email to TCU Administration: Summer Funding Now

This is the full-text email sent by Cody Jackson to administration at Texas Christian University on Monday, March 23, 2020:

Hi Dean Wormley,

Thank you for your email. In it, you state that a move to a 12-month pay cycle is a “future solution.” Is summer funding, whether a shift to 12-month pay or in the form of stipends to cover the summer months, being considered right now for this upcoming summer? I just wanted to clarify whether your second paragraph was a detailed explanation of what the first paragraph set up.

Thank you for your attention to these issues. I only fear that if direct and swift action isn’t taken by your office, the Provost’s office, and the Chancellor’s office, not only will current graduate students be faced with whether to drop out of our programs. They/we will also face very, very difficult prospects for getting employed in what very well could be a very limited market. It is already incredibly difficult to find a job and navigate the gaps in pay that occur with that. This is a system built on a very normative understanding of who belongs here and who does not.

I do hope summer funding will be made a top priority of this university’s mission for graduate education right now. Giving the contexts and circumstances we face, this decision is a moral one with material [consequences] on the bodies and lives of graduate students. Budgets are moral documents. I hope that these decisions are being made as if lives depend on them, because given today’s level of uncertainty they do.

Universities across the country, and scholar-teachers at many of them, are talking very seriously about ways to support graduate workers right now—in this very moment and through summer. I hope our university “takes the lead” on summer funding for graduate workers, too.


Cody Jackson

Mutual Aid at Middlebury

Setting Up Mutual Aid Spreadsheets for Graduate Students (or any collective for that matter)

Today, I designed a mutual aid spreadsheet and distributed it to graduate students and faculty in our department. I’m including the elements of that spreadsheet here in case it’s helpful for others, too.

Google Drive’s Sheets is the tool I used to develop the spreadsheet. I also made it available to everyone who has the link. This comes with its own privacy concerns, but if the link is not shared outside the collective, things should be okay in terms of protecting each other’s information.

fields for resources neededfields for resources on-hand
Contact information (Name, Phone, Address)Contact information (Name, Phone, Address)
Non-Perishable Food NeededNon-Perishable Food On-Hand
Supplies Needed (Germ-X, anti-bacterial wipes, gloves, masks, cleaning supplies)Supplies On-Hand
Do you rely on prescription medications? If so, where do you usually get your medications refilled?Can you offer transportation to those who need to access medical care, food resources, and other necessities?
Are you feeling isolated? Do you need company (pending safety precautions, of course)? This could mean a phone conversation or texting, too.What TCU resources do you have access to? What TCU resources can you redistribute to those who need them? This could include money, food, supplies, etc.
What TCU resources can we redistribute to those in-need of them?##
This is not an exhaustive list. ##