‘Narrating Disability Inside and Outside the Clinic: Or, Beyond Empathy’, G. Thomas Couser, Seminar

Prof. G. Thomas Couser, “Narrating Disability Inside and Outside the Clinic: Or, Beyond Empathy”

Date: Wednesday 12th March 2014

Time: 2.15pm – 3.45pm

Place: Eden 109, Liverpool Hope University


The persistent devaluing of the lives of disabled persons, as periodically manifested in news accounts of abuse and neglect, underscores the value of disability life writing. Outside the clinic, disability memoirs have become surprisingly popular; indeed, at least in the USA, their proliferation has helped to spur the memoir boom. But the voices of disabled people especially need to be heard and reckoned with in medical schools, to complement and counterbalance the medical paradigm. It is not enough for medical personnel to empathize, or attempt to identify, with disabled patients, however; in order to fully serve the needs of their patients, they need to make cognitive—rather than affective—adjustments. Functioning as what Prof. Couser calls “quality-of-life writing,” disability narrative can play a major role in the reorientation of medical professionals.

G. Thomas Couser retired in 2011 from Hofstra University, where he was a professor of English and founding director of the Disability Studies Program. His books include Recovering Bodies: Illness, Disability, and Life Writing (1997), Vulnerable Subjects: Ethics and Life Writing (2004), Signifying Bodies: Disability in Contemporary Life Writing (2009), and Memoir: An Introduction (2012).

This seminar is part of the new CCDS series, The Voice of Disability. Other dates include:

  • 21st May, The Reality and Rhetoric of Pupil Voice: Exploring the Educational Journeys of Young People Labelled with Behavioural, Emotional, and Social Difficulties, Marie Caslin.
  • 25th June, Young DaDa: Evaluating Participation in the Arts, Claire Penketh.

For further information please contact Dr David Bolt.

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