Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Lynee Lewis Gaillet

Second Advisor

George Pullman

Third Advisor

Elizabeth Sanders Lopez


The Disability Rights Movement has its beginnings in the 1960s, alongside the Civil Rights Movement, culminating in the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1993. Yet because of a long history of eugenics approaches to “cure” disability rather than to include disability as a positive identity, ableism exists throughout the structures of our society, including in higher education. This project seeks to resist ableism in higher education by using the English department as a location of positive change for disabled students. The project seeks to create a disabilities studies orientation across the pedagogy and administration of the English department because virtually every student at the college or university must take an English course; therefore, creating inclusive culture of the English Department can positively affect a majority of disabled students.

Disability studies as a discipline was born from the activism of the Disability Rights Movement. The project at hand demonstrates how incorporating theories and practices of disability studies into the English department can be accomplished seamlessly. The project offers ideas for implementing disability studies into all levels of the English department, rather than resting on critique alone.

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