Spring 2020 - SA 360 D100

Special Topics in Sociology and Anthropology (SA) (4)

Disability Studies

Class Number: 9028

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 6 – Apr 9, 2020: Wed, 1:30–5:20 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    SA 101 or 150 or 201W.



A seminar exploring a topic not regularly offered by the department.


This course will provide an introduction to interdisciplinary critical disability scholarship that has emerged in the last few decades, with a particular focus on “mental disorders.” Drawing on a range of critical disability literature, films, and life stories, we will examine historical and cultural paradigms that have produced categories of disability, insanity, and mental incompetence that uphold systems of social exclusion and inequality. We will then explore social and human rights models of disability that challenge ableism and sanism, and extend understandings of ability, diversity, inclusion and citizenship. We will engage with critiques and elaborations of the social model from feminist, queer, antiracist, decolonization and global perspectives, and explore how disability scholarship and activism have fostered the emergence of a vibrant movement of disability arts and culture.

We will also examine the role of family members (often neglected in disability studies) as both caregivers and agents of social change, drawing on the instructor’s research with relatives of those who were institutionalized and forgotten in mental hospitals in early 20th century British Columbia. The course will include a field trip to the Woodlands Memorial Garden in New Westminster – the site of an institutional cemetery that was erased and transformed into a park during the 1970s.

The course will require active class participation. Students will be encouraged to reflect on their own perspectives and assumptions, to develop analytical skills using critical disability approaches, and to apply these critical perspectives to the cultural contexts in which they live, work and study.


  • Attendance and participation 15%
  • Written critical reflection #1 5%
  • Written critical reflection #2 10%
  • Written critical reflection #3 15%
  • Small group presentation and report 15%
  • Final research essay/project proposal 10%
  • Final research essay/project 30%


Grading: Where a final exam is scheduled and the student does not write the exam or withdraw from the course before the deadline date, an N grade will be assigned. Unless otherwise specified on the course syllabus, all graded assignments for this course must be completed for a final grade other than N to be assigned. An N is considered as an F for the purposes of scholastic standing.

Grading System: The Undergraduate Course Grading System is as follows:

A+ (95-100) | A (90-94) | A- (85-89) | B+ (80-84) | B (75-79) | B- (70-74) | C+ (65-69) | C (60-64) | C- (55-59) | D (50-54) | F (0-49) | N*
*N standing to indicate the student did not complete course requirements

Academic Dishonesty and Misconduct Policy: The Department of Sociology & Anthropology follows SFU policy in relation to grading practices, grade appeals (Policy T 20.01) and academic dishonesty and misconduct procedures (S10.01‐S10.04). Unless otherwise informed by your instructor in writing, in graded written assignments you must cite the sources you rely on and include a bibliography/list of references, following an instructor-approved citation style.  It is the responsibility of students to inform themselves of the content of SFU policies available on the SFU website.

Centre for Accessible Learning: Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need classroom or exam accommodations are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (1250 Maggie Benston Centre) as soon as possible to ensure that they are eligible and that approved accommodations and services are implemented in a timely fashion.


As video clips and films will be presented and discussed in class, attendance at class is crucial.



Clare, Eli. (2017). Brilliant Imperfection: Grappling with Cure. Durham: Duke University Press.

This title is available online through the SFU Library here.
ISBN: 978-0-822362876

Davis, Lennard. (Ed.). (2013). The Disability Studies Reader, 4th ed., New York: Routledge.

This title is available online through the SFU Library here.
ISBN: 978-0-415630511


Lefrancois, B., R. Menzies & G. Reaume. (2013). Mad Matters: A Critical Reader in Canadian Mad Studies. Toronto: Canadian Scholars’ Press Inc.
ISBN: 978-1-551305349

Additional required and recommended readings will be available online or in Bennett library reserves. 

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html