Crip Writing: Communication through a Disability and Decolonial Lens

Suresh Canagarajah

Abstract: Pedagogies for minoritized and multilingual writers have often led teachers to uncritically adopt models based on values such as autonomy, mastery, normativity, and efficiency. In practice, this often leads to imposing language and rhetorical norms of privileged social groups and treating deviations from those norms as indicating linguistic or cognitive deficiency. Scholars in disability and decolonial studies are beginning to question the way “ability” is defined in communication in contemporary society and education. They argue for a shift from autonomy to collaboration, mastery to dependency, norms to dispositions, and efficiency to ethics. This talk will begin by illustrating these shifts from the way the speaker’s cancer diagnosis and resulting impairments transformed his writing practice. Then drawing from his research on the writing and communication of international STEM scholars, he will demonstrate how their diverse languages and proficiencies motivate them to practice relational ethics in contexts of vulnerability for successful communication. This talk will demonstrate how approaches to diversity in education can embrace nonnormative language practices in meaning making and cultivate the ethical dispositions needed for such communication.

Time: Thursday, May 18, 3:30-4:30pm

Location: Advanced Technologies Laboratory (Bldg. 07), Rm. 002

Note: A reception will follow in the ATL Lobby from 4:30-6pm. Refreshments provided by SLO Provisions.

Speaker bio: Suresh Canagarajah is Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Applied Linguistics, English, and Asian Studies at Penn State University. He is the author of multiple award-winning books and articles on World Englishes, multilingual writing, decolonization, and disability studies. He is the former president of the American Association for Applied Linguistics and former editor of TESOL Quarterly.

Sponsors: This event is sponsored by the Office of Writing and Learning, the College of Liberal Arts, the Department of Political Science, the Disability Faculty Staff Association, and the English Department’s First-Year Composition Program.

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