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SU Humanities Center and The Burton Blatt Institute Host “‘Cripping’ Graphic Medicine: Psychiatric Disability, ‘Crip’ Culture, and the Humanitites

Posted on Monday 10/21/2019
Elizabeth J. Donaldson

Syracuse University's Humanities Center and The Burton Blatt Institute's (BBI) Office of Interdisciplinary Programs and Outreach are hosting the two-part Syracuse Symposium, ‘Cripping’ Graphic Medicine: Psychiatric Disability, ‘Crip’ Culture, and the Humanities. Elizabeth J. Donaldson, Professor of English and Interim Associate Dean for Curriculum and Student Success at the New York Institute of Technology, will give a public lecture on these topics on Tuesday, October 29 at 4 p.m. in the Bird Library Peter Graham Scholarly Commons, Room 114. 

On Wednesday, October 30, Professor Donaldson will follow up her lecture by leading “Drawing Out the Public Sphere: A Workshop on ‘Cripping’ Graphic Medicine” starting at 10 a.m. in Room 304 of the Tolley Humanities Building.  

This symposium, in the emerging cross-disciplinary field of Graphic Medicine, engages Syracuse University’s and SUNY Upstate Medical University’s constituents in collaboration by drawing linkages across disability studies and the health humanities.  Both events are free and open to the public.  Community members are encouraged to attend.  An RSVP is not needed for the lecture.  Please RSVP to Rachael Zubal-Ruggieri for workshop participation (information follows).

The Consortium for Culture and Medicine at SUNY Upstate Medical University, Syracuse University College of Arts and Sciences, and LeMoyne College are sponsors of the events.

Today, graphic memoirs are both popular and acclaimed: for example, Alison Bechdel's Fun Home (2006) is taught in college courses and has been adapted into an award-winning Broadway musical. Yet, when Justin Green published his 40-page autobiographical comic, Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary, in 1972, he was breaking new ground and inventing a new form. By reading Binky Brown as a disability memoir, Donaldson argues that psychiatric disability and the empathetic treatment of mental health issues are foundational to this genre. Contemporary graphic memoirs of psychiatric disability are both a legacy of Green’s innovative confessional comics and an extension of his work. For students of disability studies, these graphic texts challenge stereotypes of mental illness and offer important and unique insights into the experiences of people living with madness and psychiatric disability.

“These Syracuse Symposium events will address issues of power in the silencing of disability and the 

'voices' of those who experience barriers in healthcare and healthcare education and practice,” said Diane Wiener, Research Professor and Associate Director of Interdisciplinary Programs and Outreach for BBI. “The event will also address how disabled people’s 'voices' are sometimes silenced in Graphic Medicine, the comics industry, and beyond, thus demonstrating why adaptations are necessary to (re)fashion a primarily visual medium so that it is consistently accessible to a spectrum of creators and audiences.”

A second lecture and workshop in this series will be held in Spring 2020 with MK Czerwiec, a.k.a. Comic Nurse.

Event Details

Tuesday, October 29

‘Cripping’ Graphic Medicine: Psychiatric Disability, ‘Crip’ Culture, and the Health Humanities

Public Lecture by Professor Elizabeth J. Donaldson

4 p.m. – 6 p.m.

Syracuse University Bird Library, Peter Graham Scholarly Commons, Room 114

Light refreshments will be served.

Wednesday, October 30

Drawing Out the Public Sphere: A Workshop on ‘Cripping’ Graphic Medicine

Workshop led by Professor Elizabeth J. Donaldson

10 a.m. – Noon

Syracuse University Tolley Humanities Building, Room 304

Please call 315-443-2156 or email razubal@law.syr.edu to RSVP for this workshop.

American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation and Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) will be provided during the lecture and workshop. For other accommodations, contact Rachael Zubal-Ruggieri at 315-443-2156 or razubal@law.syr.edu