In this learning community, students will study justice, access, and the power of the arts to transcend and transform the walls that divide us.

Professors Jody Kerchner and Elizabeth Hamilton will teach the disability and access cluster. Photo credit: Jennifer Manna

Arts and the Overlooked: The Activism of Access

Offered fall 2017
Open to first-year students

Public images of disability and incarceration are rife with prejudices and stereotypes, usually with profound consequences for the people concerned. Authoritative discourse is most often conducted by “experts” speaking about disability and incarceration rather than from subjective points of view of the people living with a disability or in prison. This course cluster turns the tables on expertise and authority, listening to and learning from the voices of people who are too often overlooked.

The rallying cry of the Disability Rights movement is “Nothing About Us Without Us!” Though barriers remain, activists and artists have brought about significant progress in civil rights and changes in cultural attitudes about disability. Prisoners, though, have fewer opportunities for self-advocacy. The law restricts their access to full participation in society, and while specifics may be hotly contested, confinement and punishment have long been understood as just responses to crime. Yet what becomes of the humanity of people living with daily barriers? To whom may they speak, and who will listen?

• FYSP Disability asks one of several questions: How do people with disabilities see themselves? This course encourages students to examine conceptual and historical models of disability, studying the impact of defining concepts on the lives of real people.

• Arts Behind Bars will examine models of art programs offered for persons who are incarcerated.

Both of these courses are required for enrollment in the learning community.


Instructors

Jody Kerchner is professor of music education in the conservatory of music. Elizabeth Hamilton is associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and associate professor of German. In courses from the Conservatory of Music (Arts Behind Bars) and the College of Arts and Sciences (First Year Seminar: Disability), and through combined community engagement, students will study justice, access, and the power of the arts to transcend and transform the walls that divide us.

First-Year Seminar Program: Disability

Elizabeth Hamilton, instructor

First-Year Seminar 093: Disability
Meets Thursdays, 11 am to-12:15 pm, 4 credit hours; enrollment limit 15; consent-only.

Required course as a part of  Arts and the Overlooked: Activism of Access cluster.

Many think of disability as something that a doctor diagnoses, something that requires treatment or cure. Others see disability as a social problem, casting the disabled as weak people needing the help of the strong. Some religions see in disability the bodily reflection of moral failure, a physical punishment for sin. Literary metaphors of disability have long represented conflicts or challenges.

But how do people with disabilities see themselves? This seminar examines conceptual and historical models of disability, studying the impact of defining concepts on the lives of real people. How do stories of disability change when people with disabilities hold the pen, the paintbrush, the microphone, or the senate floor?

Arts Behind Bars

Jody Kerchner, instructor

PACE 220 Arts Behind Bars
Meets Thursdays, 3-4:15 pm,  4 credit hours, enrollment limit 15, no prerequisites.

Required course as a part of Arts and the Overlooked: Activism of Access cluster.

Students will encounter models of arts programs offered for people who are often overlooked—those who are incarcerated. An overview of general political, philosophical, and societal issues relative to incarceration in the United States and globally will lead to the consideration of access to arts education in prisons as acts of activism.

Primary readings will include research on the effects of arts education access for those incarcerated and the ways the arts have the potential to transform and inform us of our common humanity.

This is a community-based learning course that includes students assisting with and or implementing arts education experiences for people who are incarcerated in Lorain County. Volunteer training at the prisons is mandatory for the CBL portion of this course.