ENG240 202101 Undergraduate

Fall 2021
ENG 240
Applies To: 
Introduction to Disability Studies

Elizabeth (Betsy) Wheeler

Elizabeth (Betsy) Wheeler profile picture
  • Title: Associate Professor
  • Additional Title: Director, Disability Studies Minor
  • Phone: 541-346-3929
  • Office: 238 PLC
  • Office Hours: S22: TUES 2:30-4 PM & WED 12:30-2 PM. Please email ewheeler@uoregon.edu to make an appt. TUES: Zoom, phone, or in person in 238 PLC WED: Zoom or phone
Department Section Description: 

ENG 240 introduces students to essential texts and concepts in disability studies and applies them to American history, popular culture, and literature, with a focus on racial diversity and learning directly from people who experience a wide spectrum of bodymind variabilities. Disability is not an issue relevant only to those who live with it. It is of wider significance because shared ideas of capacity, personhood, and belonging govern societies as a whole. 

How can we uncover the voices, strengths, and perspectives of disabled people in a history characterized by dehumanization? How do race and disability intersect in such strength and dehumanization? How do contemporary arts talk back to the past and make new disability cultures?  

In ENG 240, students sharpen their writing by interpreting a variety of art forms, including speculative fiction, memoir, theater, film, creative non-fiction, and painting. We focus on two important sites of U.S. disability history: the asylum and the freak show. We explore how twenty-first century creators with disabilities have remade the past in order to reclaim lost voices and express new, liberating visions of body and mind variability. The seminar takes an intersectional approach, considering disability and racialized identities at the same time. We will benefit from the insights of creators of African, European, Mexican, and Native American descent.  


A & L

Arts & Letters (A&L) courses create meaningful opportunities for students to engage actively in the modes of inquiry that define a discipline. Courses are broad in scope and demonstrably liberal in nature (that is, courses that promote open inquiry from a variety of perspectives). Though some courses may focus on specialized subjects or approaches, there will be a substantial course content locating that subject in the broader context of the major issues of the discipline. Qualifying courses will not focus on teaching basic skills but will require the application or engagement of those skills through analysis and interpretation.


Multicultural, Identity, Pluralism, and Tolerance (IP) courses examine the social construction of collective identities, the emergence of representative voices from varying social and cultural standpoints, and the effects of prejudice, intolerance, and discrimination. The purpose of courses in this category is to analyze the general principles underlying tolerance, or the lack of it.


US: Difference, Inequality, and Agency courses focus on race and ethnicity in the United States by considering two or more racial and ethnic groups.

Lower-Division Elective

Lower-division Elective courses allow students to choose (or “elect”) courses or faculty specific to their own developing interests, enabling them thereby to shape their own educational experience.  Major II students can also use one lower-division elective to fulfill the Writing Requirement with ENG 209 The Craft of the Sentence.

English Minor

English Minor courses offer students centuries of cultural experience and representation in poetry, prose, drama, film, TV, new media, and folk artifacts.  The English minor can focus and extend the values of a liberal arts education, while also providing extensive training in writing, speaking, and critical thinking.

Disability Studies Minor

Disability Studies courses focus on how ableism (anti-disability prejudice) operates in different nations and how disability intersects with other forms of identity like gender, class, nationality, and race in complex and varied patterns.  Courses draw from fields like international development, health professions, design, sign language interpreting, education, and non-profit management.