Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Disability and Culture

LEVEL 05 - Postgraduate Modular Diploma or Degree Course


DEPARTMENT Disability Studies

DESCRIPTION This study-unit looks at three aspects of the relationship between disabled people and culture. The first is the depiction of disabled people in the arts and in popular culture. The second is culture as a means of self-expression for disabled people themselves. Finally, the study unit will also consider issues of access to cultural events for disabled people, both as audience and as participants.

Study-unit Aims:

This study-unit’s main aims are:
• To expose students to the various ways disabled people are represented in popular media and the arts and the implications such representations have on the quality of life and opportunities afforded to disabled people.
• To critically evaluate the argument that forms of arts and cultural expressions constructed by disabled people are a valid and alternative form of interpretation equal to that of mainstream culture and society.
• To assess ways in which disabled people are prevented from actively participating in mainstream social and cultural activities and ways in which approaches can be developed whereby disabled people are included both as spectators and actors in cultural life.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
• Analyse how representations of disabled people construct disability and what they show about how the value and character of the disabled person are perceived.
• Contrast the way mainstream culture and society has interpreted the lives and experiences of disabled people to the interpretation developed by those disabled people who are directly involved in disability arts; and examine the extent to which they can prove to be empowering and affirming for disabled people.
• Critically evaluate the various means of artistic and cultural expression and the barriers to these means encountered by disabled people and identify the problems that need to be addressed in order to ensure that disabled people have access to artistic and cultural expression both as actors and as spectators.

2. Skills:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
• Analyse a selection of media forms which include representations of disabled people and extract how disability is constructed and the implications that these representations and constructions have on the disabled person.
• Select instances of cultural expression or media items (for instance a film, play, painting, song, TV programme, novel,) which are about disabled people or by disabled people and compare and contrast the interpretation of disabled people’s lived experiences, examining their potential for the empowerment of disabled people.
• Analyse artistic and cultural events and investigate their potential for enabling disabled people to be both spectators and active participants in these events.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

BORG, C. and J. CAMILLERI. 2009. Daisy petal picking: Maltese media’s love-hate relationship with vulnerable people. In J. BORG, A. HILLMAN and M.A. LAURI, eds. Exploring the Maltese media landscape. Valletta, Malta: Allied Publications.

BARNES C. 1992. Disabling imagery and the media: An exploration of the principles for media representations of disabled people. Available from Barnes/disabling%20imagery.pdf.

CLARKE, L. 2003. Disabling comedy: only when we laugh. Finding the Spotlight Conference. Liverpool Institute for the Performing Arts. May 2003. Available from,%20Laurence/ Clarke%20on%20comedy .pdf.

CORKER, M. and T. Shakespeare, eds. 2000. Disability and Postmodernity London: Continuum.

DARKE, P.A., 1994. The Elephant Man (David Lynch, EMI Films, 1980): an analysis from a disabled perspective. Disability and society, 9 (3), pp. 327-342.

DAVIS, L.J., ed. 2010. The disability studies reader. 3rd edition. London: Routledge.

LONGMORE, P.K. 2003. Why I burned my books and other essays. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

POINTON, A. and C. DAVIES, eds. 2008. Framed: Interrogating Disability in the Media. London: British Film Institute.

SHAKESPEARE, T. 1994. Cultural representation of disabled people: dustbins for disavowal? Disability and society, 9 (3), pp. 283-299.

Various 1999. Special Edition of Body and society, 5 (4).


ADDITIONAL NOTES Pre-requisite Qualifications: First Cycle Degree

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Lecture, Seminar & Independent Study

Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Presentation SEM2 No 20%
Assignment SEM2 Yes 80%
Important - Due to the COVID19 Pandemic the information regarding the method of assessment indicated above may have been changed. Further details have been provided by your F/I/C/S.

LECTURER/S Claire Lucille Azzopardi Lane
Anne-Marie Callus (Co-ord.)
Maria Victoria Gauci
Louise Ghirlando
Marcello Ghirlando
Monika Maslowska

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the study-unit description above applies to the academic year 2019/0, if study-unit is available during this academic year, and may be subject to change in subsequent years.