Illness and Disability in Literary and Cultural Texts: An International Seminar

On June 17, 2019, the ILLREP research group will be hosting a one-day interdisciplinary seminar featuring multiple speakers from the University of Oslo and beyond. The keynote lecture will be delivered by Susan Schweik, Professor of English at UC Berkeley and author of works including The Ugly Laws: Disability in Public (2009). The Facebook event page can be found here, and you can click here to register.



Susan Schweik (UC Berkeley): "Unfixed: How the Women of Glenwood Overturned Ideas About IQ, and Why We Don't Know It"


Coffee Break


Panel 1

Diana Santos (Professor of Portuguese language and linguistics, UiO): "Distant Reading Health: A Pilot Study on Health and Disease in Lusophone Literature"

Mexitli Nayeli López Ríos (PhD Fellow, ILLREP, UiO): "'Golden Handcuffs' and Cannibal Terrorists, or, What Zombies Might Show Us in Times of Inclusionism"

Tom Bradstreet (PhD Fellow, BIODIAL, UiO): "The Enabling Condition, or, What Are 'We' Learning from Temple Grandin?"


Coffee Break


Panel 2

Sara Orning (Postdoctoral Fellow, BIODIAL, UiO): "Speculative Storytelling and Configurations of the Human: Disability, Animality, and Monstrosity in an Extraordinary Female Body"

Jan Grue (Professor of Qualitative Methods, Special Needs Education, UiO): "The Problem of Posthumanism: Frames and Objects of Analysis"

Michael Lundblad (Professor of English-Language Literature, UiO): "The Jungle of the Ill: Biopolitics of Animality in Contemporary U.S. Illness Narratives"

Keynote Lecture

Susan Schweik, “Unfixed: How the Women of Glenwood Overturned Ideas About IQ, and Why We Don't Know It”

In 1939, a popular science magazine trumpeted, "Dull Babies Made Normal By Feeble-Minded Girls’ Care: Increase of as Much as 40 Points in IQ Reported.” The article described an experiment by American psychologist Harold Skeels in which orphanage toddlers were transferred to the State Institution for the “Mentally Defective” in Glenwood, Iowa to be nurtured by women incarcerated there. Other “contrast” children left behind in the orphanage did worse by any measure. Raising the children in tandem with low-wage women workers who were their attendants, the women of Glenwood developed a radically interdependent kinship model that profoundly (but briefly, and under conditions of domination) called into question the usual terms and stratifications of intelligence, normalcy, cure, and care.

Susan Schweik is Professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley. Her last book was The Ugly Laws: Disability in Public (NYU, 2009).  A recipient of Berkeley's  Chancellor's Award for Advancing Institutional Excellence and U.C.'s Presidential Chair in Undergraduate Education, she has been involved with the development of disability studies at Berkeley for over 17 years. She was co-coordinator of the Ed Roberts Fellowships in Disability Studies post-doctoral program at Berkeley (coordinated by the Institute for Urban and Regional Development). She has taught and co-taught undergraduate courses in Disability and Literature, Discourses of Disability, The Disability Rights Movement, Disability and Digital Storytelling, Psychiatric Disability, Literature and Medicine, and Race, Ethnicity and Disability, among others, and graduate courses in Body Theory and Disability Studies and Advanced Disability Studies. Her other teaching and research interests include twentieth century poetry, late nineteenth century American literature, women's studies and gender theory, urban studies, war literature and children's literature. Her proudest honor is the name sign given to her by students at Gallaudet: see

This seminar is organized by the research group ILLREP: Representations of Illness and Disability in Literary and Cultural Texts, at the University of Oslo. Funding is provided by the Department of Literature, Area Studies, and European Languages, University of Oslo.

Published May 28, 2019 9:42 AM - Last modified May 28, 2019 9:57 PM