04 March 2014

Disability Studies and the Wizard of Oz

The Sentinel of Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, reports that Joshua R. Eyler, director of the Center for Teaching Excellence at Rice University, will deliver a presentation on “If I Only Had a Brain: Disability and Difference in the Oz Narratives,” on Thursday, 6 March, at Shippensburg University.

The paper explains:
Eyler’s talk will examine Baum’s fiction about the land of Oz and the literary and cinematic legacies of this Oz mythology, using the lens of disability studies. Although disability is not the first thing that comes to mind when reading the Oz narratives, disability unquestionably and powerfully appears as a thematic current running throughout the tradition. The talk will explore how each text within the tradition picks up the theme anew to construct its own particular meaning.
Eyler has been working on this topic since at least 2007, when he and colleague Gretchen Nevins presented a talk at Columbus State University titled “Figuring Disability in L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.” Last fall the Children’s Literature Association Quarterly published Eyler’s article “Disability and Prosthesis in L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.” He’s stated that reading about characters searching for a brain, a heart, and courage can “help the story’s young readers learn difficult lessons about empathy” and that “the book works very well as a way to introduce many ideas about disability and society to young readers.“

Eyler’s talk will begin at 7:00 in the Old Main Chapel at Shippensburg University. It’s free and open to the public.

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