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University of Oregon

Elizabeth (Betsy) Wheeler

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More About Elizabeth Wheeler


I teach, research, and lead in the fields of disability studies, young adult and children's literature, comics studies, post-1945 U.S literature and popular culture, and community-based education. My book-in-progress, HandiLand: Kids with Disabilities Infiltrate Public Culture, explores the new public profile of young people with a wide variety of disabilities since the worldwide rights laws of the past 25 years. I explore the consequences of their entering public spaces like nature, school, and the Internet through disability portrayals in contemporary young adult and children's literature, comics, fantasy, blogs, popular culture, and interviews with families and individuals with disabilities. Support for my scholarship has come from the Children's Literature Association, Oregon Humanities Center, and the Center for the Study of Women in Society.

I lead a team developing the Disability Studies Program in the University of Oregon College of Arts and Sciences, with a minor and graduate specialization to launch in fall 2016. I also direct the University of Oregon Literacy Initiative, a service learning program based in the English Department which pairs academic courses with internships at local schools and non-profit agencies. Through the generosity of a Williams Instructional Grant, in spring 2016 I will launch a new model of community-based disability studies education called Wider Worlds. In Wider Worlds courses, college students and members of local disability communities will meet as fellow students in classes held at nursing homes, disability art centers, and psychiatric hospitals.

Curriculum Vitae


Recent Articles:

"Moving Together Side by Side: Human-Animal Comparisons in Picture Books." Disability Studies and the Environmental Humanities. Eds. Sarah Jaquette Ray and J.C. Sibara. U Nebraska Press, forthcoming.

"No Monsters in This Fairy Tale: Wonder and the New Children's Literature. "Children's Literature Quarterly 38.3 (Fall 2013): 335- 350.

"Don't Climb Every Mountain." ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment 20.3 (Summer 2013): 553-573.


HandiLand: Young People with Disabilities Infiltrate Public Culture. Table of Contents.