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Mad at School

Rhetorics of Mental Disability and Academic Life

Margaret Price

Publication Year: 2011

A very important study that will appeal to a disability studies audience as well as scholars in social movements, social justice, critical pedagogy, literacy education, professional development for disability and learning specialists in access centers and student counseling centers, as well as the broader domains of sociology and education. ---Melanie Panitch, Ryerson University "Ableism is alive and well in higher education. We do not know how to abandon the myth of the 'pure (ivory) tower that props up and is propped up by ableist ideology.' . . . Mad at School is thoroughly researched and pathbreaking. . . . The author's presentation of her own experience with mental illness is woven throughout the text with candor and eloquence." ---Linda Ware, State University of New York at Geneseo Mad at School explores the contested boundaries between disability, illness, and mental illness in the setting of U.S. higher education. Much of the research and teaching within disability studies assumes a disabled body but a rational and energetic (an "agile") mind. In Mad at School, scholar and disabilities activist Margaret Price asks: How might our education practices change if we understood disability to incorporate the disabled mind? Mental disability (more often called "mental illness") is a topic of fast-growing interest in all spheres of American culture, including popular, governmental, aesthetic, and academic. Mad at School is a close study of the ways that mental disabilities impact academic culture. Investigating spaces including classrooms, faculty meeting rooms, and job searches, Price challenges her readers to reconsider long-held values of academic life, including productivity, participation, security, and independence. Ultimately, she argues that academic discourse both produces and is produced by a tacitly privileged "able mind," and that U.S. higher education would benefit from practices that create a more accessible academic world. Mad at School is the first book to use a disability-studies perspective to focus specifically on the ways that mental disabilities impact academic culture at institutions of higher education. Individual chapters examine the language used to denote mental disability; the role of "participation" and "presence" in student learning; the role of "collegiality" in faculty work; the controversy over "security" and free speech that has arisen in the wake of recent school shootings; and the marginalized status of independent scholars with mental disabilities. Margaret Price is Associate Professor of English at Spelman College.

Published by: University of Michigan Press

Series: Corporealities: Discourses of Disability

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pp. xi-xiv

Many of us, Margaret Price argues, are mad at school. We are crazy inthe classroom. Mad and crazy are offensive terms, but they are also rhetorical indicators, useful both to expose discrimination against people with mental disabilities and to chart the road not yet taken to arrive at classrooms attentive to the mental diversity of students and teachers in...

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pp. 1-24

If you are crazy, can you still be of sound mind? This is not an idle question: I am crazy (although I don’t usually use that word to refer to myself), and I make my living by using my mind. I’m a professor of composition and rhetoric. I spend most days thinking, talking, and writing...

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1. Listening to the Subject of Mental Disability: Intersections of Academic and Medical Discourses

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pp. 25-57

I teach writing at a four-year college, and in pretty much every class I teach- first-year composition, argumentation, research methods, even creative non‹ction—I use the word rhetoric a lot. My students often ask me what it means. I could offer them one of Aristotle’s classical definitions—“Rhetoric is the counterpart of dialectic” (1354a), for instance, or “Rhetoric is the ability to discern the available means of persuasion”...

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2. Ways to Move: Presence, Participation, and Resistance in Kairotic Space

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pp. 58-102

Several years ago, a colleague told me about a student in her Introduction to Women’s Studies class who was behaving in a way that puzzled and annoyed my colleague. The student spoke out at odd moments, making remarks that didn’t seem to relate to the discussion topic at hand. As the semester went on, her behavior become more unconventional...

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3. The Essential Functions of the Position: Collegiality and Productivity

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pp. 103-140

In the summer of 2005, I had just completed the first year of my ‹rst tenure-track academic job. I still read the “Careers” section in the Chronicle of Higher Education, in part to enjoy a sense of relief at ac- tually being employed (with health insurance!), and in part out of a sneaking fear that I might be back on the market anytime...

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4. Assaults on the Ivory Tower: Representations of Madness in the Discourse of U.S. School Shootings

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pp. 141-175

In 2007 and 2008, two mass shootings occurred on two U.S. college campuses, Virginia Polytechnic Institute (Virginia Tech) and Northern Illinois University (NIU).1 The shooter at Virginia Tech was a twenty-three-year- old undergraduate English major named Seung-Hui Cho; the shooter at Northern Illinois was a twenty-seven-year-old graduate student in sociology named Steven Kazmierczak...

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5. “Her Pronouns Wax and Wane”: Mental Disability, Autobiography, and Counter-Diagnosis

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pp. 176-195

If it is a crazy story surely it will do no harm, and if it is not, why? In September 2008 I visited a Barnes & Noble bookstore in Atlanta and was confronted by a large table display bearing a sign that read “Memoirs of Addiction.” I was partly amused and partly disgusted—and not at all surprised. Disability memoirs have proliferated in recent decades. By...

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6. In/ter/dependent Scholarship

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pp. 196-229

I didn’t pay much attention to independent scholarship until I arrived on its doorstep, so to speak, by way of mental disability. I can date my attentiveness to an email exchange with Cal Montgomery in 2007. In April of that year, I wrote to Cal—having read her work in Ragged Edge Online—to ask if we might meet at the upcoming SDS conference. Cal responded warmly to exchanging ideas by email, but said she would not be at the conference, since she had attended some years before and found it an “access nightmare...

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pp. 230-249

Mental disabilities permeate our cultural landscape with frequency and intensity. On network television, we have Monk, who has obsessive-compulsive disorder, and House, who commits himself to a psychiatric hospital at the close of the show’s fifth season. On premium cable, there’s Showtime’s The United States of Tara, whose protagonist is a housewife with dissociative identity disorder (DID);...

Appendix A

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pp. 235-236

Appendix B

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pp. 237-238


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pp. 239-250

Works Cited

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pp. 266-272


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pp. 273-279

E-ISBN-13: 9780472027989
E-ISBN-10: 0472027980
Print-ISBN-13: 9780472051380
Print-ISBN-10: 0472051385

Page Count: 294
Illustrations: 10 B&W illustrations; 1 table
Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: Corporealities: Discourses of Disability