Please visit it. I will be experimenting with some more as time moves forward. I will look for a widget that will allow you to subscribe to updates.
A quick update. I did meet with a faculty member from the Sociology PhD program at the CUNY Graduate Center. She told me that I have all the credentials that I need to do research in disability studies. No need to go back to graduate school.
It was a huge burden lifted off my shoulders. I get to be curious. I get to dig where ever it makes sense to dig at any particular time. That being said, keep your eyes open. Because I want to learn Wordpress. I need to learn how to create a website on the CUNY Academic Commons. So I am going to create The Rolling Commons. Once it's up I will link to it from here. A kind of grown up sibling.
My head continues to move forward about the question of formal study of disabilities studies. I came across a quote in "Disability Rights and Wrongs Revisited" (Tom Shakespeare) that came at me like a lightning bolt. He was advocating for the study of disability studies from the sociology perspective. I went digging, and sure enough, there is a movement within sociology, looking at disabilities studies. So I am looking for an opportunity to do a PhD in sociology, that is somehow combined with disabilities studies. It's possible that I will do the MA at SPS first. Much to ponder. Time will tell.
The major revolution this spring was the purchase of a shed for the tricycle. It's been moved out of our living room, into its own space. This makes it possible for me to ride when T is not here. Space includes brackets for his and hers helmets. This is because T continues to ride, and finds it really useful for errands.
In honor of my new passion for disabilities studies, I decided to go to a lecture being given at Fordham University. Habam Girma was the speaker. Ms. Girma is deaf / blind. She is an amazing role model. She is not completely deaf, so she was able to learn to speak fluently. Her main communication tool with people who don’t know tactile sign language is a wireless keyboard that communicates with a tactile Braille display. She is the first deaf / blind person to graduate from Harvard Law School.
Some of the things I heard that really resonated with me. When I advocate for myself, I benefit the community. (I need to remember that the next time the environment at work really gets in my way.) I need to create image descriptions for the pictures I use to illustrate my blog. This will also help people find my work. Disabled people can be leaders.
The other really important takeaway was a renewed sense of gratitude for the job I have. My college was built in the 60s. It’s not gothic gorgeous, with broad green lawns. However, it is very accessible. The elevators and the ramps are part of the original fabric of the building, not an afterthought. In some ways I made the transition to pushing a walker very easily because all the tools I needed were already in place. I love the job I have.
I don’t know if I’ve said this here, but I am tenured. I am also going to be promoted to Associate Professor at the beginning of the Fall semester. This is huge, and I am very, very grateful. It’s also produced a whole different feeling in my scholarship. I want to continue to do research, but I can really do whatever calls to me.
In the process of developing “Claiming our Space” I have discovered disabilities studies. This Spring I have been plowing my way through various reading lists. Again and again I have identified with the writers and said “this explains me to me!” I have found a home for my scholarship for this next phase of my scholarly career.
A shout out to the School of Professional Studies at CUNY. They have created an MA in Disabilities Studies.
At least for a moment I feel that I already have an MA (in history). I don’t feel the need for another one. As long as my reading continues to move forward without help, I am holding out for the PhD program. I hear that they are thinking about starting one. That I will do when it becomes available. I have found my home.
The time was 10 years ago. I was working for Rutgers University Newark at the time, walking out of Newark Penn Station, up Raymond Blvd to campus. I was on my way home. I remember the street corner, I’m on the ground, having just tripped over a crack in the sidewalk. I called a friend, absolutely hysterical. The problem wasn’t a skinned knee and bruises. The problem was that I was in denial about my disability, and my bubble had been burst. The journey toward self acceptance has been about growing in my understanding of my unique and interesting body. Most days dressing so that my brace is obvious. My life has been enriched by claiming my space as a disabled librarian.
That’s why one of the themes of my research has been passing. A book that I finished early on in this process was “Disability and Passing: the Lines of Identity,” by Jeffrey A. Brune and Daniel J. Wilson. Brune and Wilson reminded me that disability and normality are not a dichotomy. It’s not a question of either / or, it’s a fluid arch (2). I also really appreciated what they had to say about passing and self deception (20-21), since that was certainly one of the issues for me.
I also appreciated Todoroff and Lewis (1992). The excerpts that they present from their interview project are very powerful, reminding us that passing is also about fear of discrimination, fear of people’s reactions. A lot of clarity about the relationship between the disabled and the able-bodied, that’s often about fear of the future (34).
More coming. Working hard on the article.
Brune, Jeffrey A., and Wilson, Daniel J. Disability and Passing : Blurring the Lines of Identity. Philadelphia, Pa.: Temple University Press, 2013.
Todoroff, Milana, and Tanya Lewis. “The Personal and Social Implications of “Passing” in the Lives of Women Living with a Chronic Disease or Illness” In The More We Get Together eds. Houston Stewart, Beth Percival and Elizabeth R. Epperly (Charlottetown, PEI: Gynergy Books, 1992).
The disabled librarians portrait (Claiming our Space) has been accepted for a Special Issue of Library Trends. The article is due June 1.
First. We are still collecting data. This will very much be a preliminary report. Please, if you feel that you are part of our contribution to librarianship, fill out the survey if you haven’t already.
Second, this has been an amazing opportunity to dive into the literature of the growing field of disabilities studies. It’s been an education in the truest sense of the word. I’ve been affirmed in some of the aspects of my own particular struggle. I’ve also had my own particular assumptions about the disabled challenged.
Susan Wendell (The Rejected Body: Feminist Philosophical Reflections on Disability, 1996) writes about disability and modern performance expectations (37). This is part of the much broader issue of the social construction of disability. I really understand that, and feel affirmed, since I suffer on some days, from a crippling fatigue. I really appreciated Wendell and immediately recommended it to others.
Robert Murphy (The Body Silent: The Different World of the Disabled) uses his background as an anthropologist to describe the ways his life changed with encroaching disability from a spinal tumor. Although Wendell also talks about “the myth of control,” it was while reading Murphy that I really got it. The myth of control oppresses the disabled and chronically ill because it suggests that it is their fault. That in some way that can be blamed for their challenges. This is, of course, not acceptable or reasonable.
These are only two of the texts the I have read in preparation for writing this paper. This is amazing research that is helping me become a better human being.
Why three wheels?
My name is Robin Brown. This is a picture of my "magic carpet." When I'm at work it's probably parked at the commuter rail station about a mile from my house. I get to ride three wheels because my right leg doesn't like to show up for work. I flunked riding two wheels.