Jacob Lertora’s Class Summary for 11/1/2021

Dr. Foss began our class by having us wish a happy birthday to someone in the other section of Disability and Literature, which must have been some sort of strange joke, because no such section exists. He then had us take out paper for a quiz, but we promptly put it away as there was no quiz scheduled for that day. We proceeded to talk about two other course offerings: Global Issues in Literature and Intro to Disability Studies, both of which are being offered in the spring, while going off on a slight tangent regarding penguin literature.

Our first activity was a small group discussion on Susan Nussbaum’s “Good Kings Bad Kings”. We talked about the realistic depiction of Mia’s abuse in the section of the reading, as well as the unique perspective of Ricky as he is growing up. However, our discussion focused largely on Joanne, whose experiences and actions mirrored what we had read in the vast majority of the theory pieces for this class. For example, Joanne muses on the term “crip” as a way to empower people with disabilities by assigning it new meaning, which is reflective of a discussion we had towards the beginning of the semester on similar terms. We also connected one passage where Joanne “cringe[s]” at the dentist to the “sneer” of the narrator in last class’s “The Old Questions”.

Joanne’s observations were further expanded upon in the class discussion that followed. One student found that the waiter ignored Joanne while she was eating with Ricky, showing the lack of presence that people with disabilities have. Dr. Foss was quick to point out how Ricky and Joanne’s relationship is connected to many of our poems and short stories which depict such inter-disabled relationships, such as “The Wedding of Tom to Tom”. Lastly, we explored Joanne’s perspective of corruption in her organization, with the board meeting exposing a shelter-to-hospital pipeline that involved millions of dollars.

Next, we moved to discussing the poem “Tulips” by Sylvia Plath. The class did not have much to say on this poem, but we did explore the connection between the tulips, how they made the author feel (bad), and the author’s surgery.

We returned to small groups to discuss “The Yellow Wallpaper”. We agreed this was a very intense and disturbing story, while also containing insight into how a person experiencing a psychotic episode feels. My group noted that the main character does not have a name, despite the other characters being named, though it was pointed out that the narrative was written by the narrator. We connected the bars on the window and the nailed-down bed to a feeling of captivity. One group member questioned the timing of the story, thinking that perhaps she was here for longer than just one month.

Lastly, we joined in a whole class discussion about the short story. The notions of forced prescription and doubt of the disabled condition were reinforced through analysis of the text and the character of John. We found that despite the story being written, the main character lacked a voice: her dialogue did not seem to change the opinion of a single side character. Unfortunately, due to the length of our previous discussions, we were unable to look at Russell and Malholtra’s Capitalism and Disability, and thus class was ended.

Word Count: 556

I pledge.

One thought on “Jacob Lertora’s Class Summary for 11/1/2021”

  1. Jacob, I liked how you your group mentioned that the main character in The Yellow Wallpaper did not have a name, and that one of you believed she was locked away for longer then a month. I found it interesting that she did not have a name. Often people with disabilities who are locked away somewhere, whether at home or a facility, their identity is not important. People focus on their disability, or they are given another title like their room number.

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