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Representation Without Erasure: Disability in Speculative Fiction

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CourseGraphic Disability representation in speculative fiction has long been disappointingly peripheral. And even when present, representations too often fall into common stereotypes: characters cast as either “Victim, Villain, Inspiration, [or] Monster,” whose “storyline is generally resolved in one of a few ways: Cure, Death, Institutionalization.”

When writing within realms fantastical, infinite possibilities emerge for the author. You can make cities fly, allow your pet poodle to spontaneously speak Pig Latin, immediately replace a hand severed by your character's father’s lightsaber with an identical cybernetic replacement. However, with infinite possibilities available, it becomes dangerously easy to find "solutions" or “cures”—whether magical or technological—for a character’s physical or mental disability. Doing so without consideration can be damaging and erase any positive effort made toward representation.

In this course, we will examine several examples of positive and effective disability representation within the space of speculative fiction and dig into what techniques the authors employed to engage the reader, depict fully rounded characters, and avoid tropes: neither victim nor villain, neither cured nor killed.

Writers will have an opportunity to discuss their own experience and craft, including writing prompts with an aim at writing from an unfamiliar perspective.

May 30 to June 27th, 2023
Tuesdays, 1:00pm to 3:00pm EST
on Zoom

Who should take this class?
Anyone with an interest in speculative fiction (fantasy, sci-fi, horror, magical realism, etc.) or a desire to depict characters with disabilities within their fiction. 

Class Details

5 Session(s)
Weekly - Tue

On Zoom

William Cagle 



Schedule Information

Date(s) Class Days Times Location Instructor(s)
5/30/2023 - 6/27/2023 Weekly - Tue 01:00 PM - 03:00 PM Bronxville, On Zoom  Map William Cagle