Disability and the Humanities

Hello everybody! My name is Vidya Surti! I am a junior majoring in Anthropology and English, with a Chemistry minor and a Global Health Certificate. I was awarded a Chancellor’s Undergraduate Teaching Fellowship through the Frederick Honors College. I am creating a Disability Archive combining teaching methods on critical disability studies and the digital humanities. Currently, I am working with Professor Kaliane Ung of the French and Italian Department. This project is part of Dr. Ung’s class, FR0088: Ailing Bodies: Narratives of Health and Illness. This semester is the second time Dr. Ung is teaching this class. The first time was in the Fall of 2021 when I took the class. Targeted at pre-health students, this class investigates the narrative, aesthetic dimensions, and ethical stakes presented by various depictions of illness in 20th and 21st-century French and Francophone literature across genres. It examines how medicine interacts with and redefines class, race, gender, and disability within the notions of class. Furthermore, it depicts how science influences social and political discourses on bodies. Through this class, students will create their own creative or research projects focusing on critical disability studies, with some aspects of the French and Francophone context. Furthermore, students will incorporate digital humanities languages or tools, such as Omeka, XML, and Python, in their projects to supplement their work. In the end, I will compile student projects and create an archive using HTML and CSS. During the week of October 3-7th, I will be creating modules for students and conducting lectures in class for students. Thus, they gain a more comprehensive grasp of Digital Humanities technologies and Critical Disability Studies. This approach will allow them to formulate projects on the individual or group level. Furthermore, we are providing them with resources, such as integrated class workshops with Pitt librarians, to increase their familiarity with digital humanities and archival studies. Regarding the importance of the health humanities, I believe students must grasp the multidisciplinary facets encompassing disability within the body to understand health and wellness. Furthermore, this is a critical primer to digital humanities and how to conduct humanities research to aid future research and critical thinking. In terms of my professional and career goals, I believe that effectively communicating concepts and ideas applies to all professions, especially considering the intersections of healthcare and disability policy. However, this project will allow me to test ideas within critical disability studies and humanities, furthering my interdisciplinary research skills.

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