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Reminder: Next DRF Seminar Tues. 10th Feb. 2015

The details for the next DRF seminar are as follows:

Date: Tuesday 10th February, 2-4, Room 10111

Slot 1: Harriet Cameron, University of Sheffield, UK: Dyslexia, Discourse and Higher Education

Under UK law dyslexia is a disability and the label entitles students within higher education to certain supports. However, students with the label I have come across during my work as a specialist tutor conceptualise dyslexia in different ways.  Some say they feel they are just ‘stupid’, some consider dyslexia a medical condition, some feel that dyslexia is a positive, and others feel they are simply different, part of a neuro-diverse population.  My position is that the ways dyslexia is constructed in any particular interaction, or in any wider text, have implications for how students with the label construct their identities (and others’ identities) as academic learners. In turn, I believe certain ways of being and doing are opened up or closed down by the ‘subject positions’ (Davies & Harre, 2001) these constructions offer. Today I will discuss a discourse analysis of two focus group conversations between dyslexic university students and myself. In this session I will talk about the different subject positions participants took up or offered, the wider discourses they drew upon, and the implications of these for ‘being’ and identity within the higher education context.  While this study has been undertaken in the UK, the implications are relevant to our understandings of learning and identity across the western world where individualistic and meritocratic ideologies pervade educational discourse. In helping students, teachers, and other educational practitioners to become more aware of the discursive production of ‘facts’ like dyslexia, the hope is that they will become better able to critically interrogate their own learning identities and have more awareness of the ways they position themselves and others.

  • Davies,B., and Harre,R. (2001) Positioning: The Discursive Production of Selves. Reading 19 in in Wetherell,M., Taylor,S., Yates,S. (Eds.) (2001) Discourse, Theory and Practice: A Reader. 261-271. London, Thousand Oaks, New Delhi: Sage Publications/ The Open University.  

Slot 2: Teodor Mladenov, Kings College London, UK: Disability in state socialism and postsocialism

 Abstract:  Seminal works in disability studies (Finkelstein, 1980; Oliver, 1990; Stone, 1984) have shown that the analysis of large-scale transformations – such as the one from feudalism to industrial capitalism – is indispensable for understanding and critique of present-day constructions of disability. The transition from state socialism to postsocialist capitalism in Eastern Europe invites similar considerations – the genealogy of disability policy in postsocialist countries necessarily leads back to their socialist past (Philips, 2009). Proceeding from these presumptions, in this presentation I will first outline some political-economic features of state socialism that underpinned its productivism. Productivism will be regarded as a mechanism (‘assemblage’) that reduces humans to resources utilisable for the enhancement of productive output. I will then explore some ways in which productivism has shaped disability policy in the socialist countries of the Eastern Bloc. Finally, I will look at the ways in which this state socialist legacy has influenced present-day disability policy in the postsocialist region. I will welcome reflections on similarities and differences with ‘advanced liberal’ (Rose, 1996) societies such as the UK.

  • Finkelstein, V. (1980) Attitudes and Disabled People: Issues for Discussion. New York: World Rehabilitation Fund.
  •  Oliver, M. (1990) The Politics of Disablement. London: Macmillan.
  •  Phillips, S. D. (2009) ‘“There are no invalids in the USSR!”: A missing Soviet chapter in the new disability history’, Disability Studies Quarterly, Vol. 29, No. 3, n.p.
  •  Rose, N. (1996) ‘Governing “advanced” liberal democracies’, in A. Barry, T. Osborne and N. Rose (eds) Foucault and Political Reason: Liberalism, Neo-Liberalism and Rationalities of Government. London: UCL Press, pp. 37-64.
  • Stone, D. (1984) The Disabled State. London: Macmillan.

Next DRF Seminar: Wednesday 25th March, 1-3, Room 10111 ~ with Kirsty Liddiard (University of Sheffield) and Nick Hodge (Sheffield Hallam University).

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