Accessible Rhetorics


Accessible Rhetorics | Spring 2017

Casey Boyle, Assistant Professor | Dept of Rhetoric & Writing

Office Parlin 25 | | Office Hours: Mondays 12-2 & Thursdays 1-2

Angled shot of a Keyboard with Accessible Icons in place of letters, icons include those for signs, motion chair, service dog, CC symbol, braille symbolThis course, first and foremost, examines relationships between bodies and technologies. To pursue this examination, we focus on accessibility as an opportunity for rhetorical invention. That is, instead of understanding technology as either enhancement (for a “normal” body) or reparative (for a “disabled” body) we shall consider all technology–with a focus on communication technology–as (rhetorically) inventive of new and different kinds of embodiment. After an introduction to theories of embodiment alongside a survey of historical approaches to disability accommodations through key sources in rhetorical and disability studies scholarship, the course closely attends to communication media and accessibility, honing in on the many theoretical and practical accessibility concerns that arise through ongoing innovation of new and emerging media.



Rachel Adams, Benjamin Reiss and David Serlin, Keywords in Disability Studies

Jay Dolmage, Disability Rhetoric

Sarah Horton & Whitney Quesenbery, A Web For Everyone

Shannon Walters, Rhetorical Touch: Disability, Identification, Haptics

Sean Zdenek, [Reading Sounds]: Closed-Captioned Media And Popular Culture


Cynthia Lewiecki-Wilson & Brenda Brueggemann, Disability and the Teaching of Writing

Graham Pullin, Design Meets Disability


Course Projects

Full assignment sheets will be made available for each project.


Responses | Due: Weekly | 20%

Weekly responses over the course of the semester to be posted to our course site (Canvas). During the first week, I will provide an outline and discussion for how responses should be organized. The responses will primarily serve to gather your thoughts towards our required readings, but they may also be opportunities to report on experience using one of the many examples we will be exploring this semester. In all cases, the responses will provide a starting point for class discussion.


Accessibility Audit | Due: March 8 | 15%

This assignment will ask that you identify a website, perform an audit on its accessibility, and suggest a range of responses for ensuring accessibility.   


Physical Computing Device | Due: April 19 | 15%

In this project, students will collaborate on the conception, design, and building of a physical computing device for accessibility (for either an assisting/estranging device).


Final Project | Due: May 10 | 50%

The final project into an accessible, multimodal text that engages a problem/possibility for accessibility and rhetoric. Ideally, this project will be a range of media compiled from the course’s earlier projects and assembled with a scholarly examination of a topic relevant to the student’s overall research project. This assignment will require a proposal and a final presentation.  



[subject to change]

Week One

1.18: Introductions

  • Marcel Mauss, “Techniques of the Body”
  • Georges Canguilhem, “The Living and Its Milieu”
  • FIXED: The Science/Fiction of Human Enhancement (in-class)
  • Rachel Adams, et al. “Disability” (from Keywords in Disability Studies)
  • Melanie Yergeau, “Disability” (from MLA Commons)

Week Two

1/25: Bodies and/as Machines

  • Georges Canguilhem, “Machine and Organism”
  • Mara Mills, “Technology” (from Keywords in Disability Studies)
  • Mark Hayward and Ghislain Thibault, “Machinic Milieus: Simondon, John Hart and Mechanology”
  • Alison Kafer, “The Cyborg and the Crip: Critical Encounters” (from Feminist Queer Crip).
  • Adrian MacKenzie, “Radical Contingency and the Materializations of Technology” (from Transductions: Bodies and Machine at Speed).
  • Tony Siebers, “Disability and the Theory of Complex Embodiment–For Identity Politics in a New Register” (from The Disability Studies Reader, 4th Ed.)
  • In-Class: Examined Life: Judith Butler & Sunaura Taylor

Week Three

2.1: On Rhetoric & Métis

  • Shannon Walters, Rhetorical Touch: Disability, Identification, Haptics (selections)
  • Jay Dolmage, Disability Rhetoric (selections)
  • Debra Hawhee, “Sophistic Métis: An Intelligence of the Body” (from Bodily Arts)
  • Marcel Detienne & Jean-Pierre Vernant, Cunning Intelligence in Greek Culture and Society (selections)
  • FuckTheory, “Spinoza: The Body, Its Nature, and Power

Week Four

2.8: Inventing Access

In-Class: Meet The Normals 

Week Five

2.15: Web Accessibility

  • Web Content Accessibility Guidelines & Web Accessibility Initiative
  • Sarah Horton & Whitney Quesenbery, “Solid Structure: Built to Standards” & “Easy Interaction: Everything Works” (from Web For Everyone)

In-class: Inclusive Design at MS & Project Describe

Week Six

2.22: Sonics

  • Mara Mills, “deafness” (from Keywords in Sound)
  • Michele Friedner & Stefan Helmreich “Sound Studies Meets Deaf Studies”
  • Claire Edwards & Gill Harold, “DeafSpace and the Principles of Universal Design”
  • Mara Mills, “On Disability and Cybernetics: Helen Keller, Norbert Wiener, and the Hearing Glove”
  • Steph Ceraso, “(Re)Educating the Senses: Multimodal Listening, Bodily Learning, and the
  • Composition of Sonic Experiences”

Week Seven

3.1:  Visuality

Week Eight

3.8: Spatialities

  • Sara Hendren, “Slope: Intercept: Notes On An Inclined Plane” (from Disability, Space, Architecture: A Reader) & Slope Intercept
  • The Funambulist,The Modernist Ideology of a Normative Body & A Subversive Approach the to Ideal Normatized Body
  • Erin Manning, “Leaky Sense of Self” (from Always More than One) & In My Own Language
  • Tanya Titchkosky and Rod Michalko, “Body as a Problem of Individuality: A Phenomenological Disability Studies”
  • Amanda Cachia, “Along Disabled Lines: Claiming Spatial Agency in Installation Art” (from Disability, Space, Architecture: A Reader)
  • Rob Imrie, “Space” (from Keywords in Disability Studies)
  • Margaret Price, “Un/shared space: The dilemma of inclusive architecture”
  • 99% Invisible, “Blue Yarn”
  • DUE: Accessibility Audit Report



Week Nine

3.22: Caption

Class Visit with Nathaniel Rivers (Saint Louis University)

  • Sean Zdenek, [Reading Sounds]: Closed-Captioned Media And Popular Culture
  • Margaret Price, “Access Imagined: The Construction of Disability in Conference Policy Documents”
  • “Ambient Captioning”  (in-class presentation by Boyle & Rivers)

Week Ten

3.29: Physical Computing I

Arduino Physical Computing Introduction | Class Visit Jim Brown (Rutgers-Camden)

  • David Rieder, Transduction and Allegorized Style (from Suasive Iterations)
  • Anne Frances Wysocki, “Unfitting Beauties of Transducing Bodies”
  • Sara Hendren, “Toward an Ethic of Estrangement”
  • Graham Pullin, “initial tensions, from design meets disability


Week Eleven

4.5:  Physical Computing II

Arduino Physical Computing Workshop

  • Alison Carey, “Citizenship” (from Keywords in Disability Studies)
  • Michael McAllister, et al., “Cultivating Design Citizenship”
  • Graham Pullin, “meeting with designers” from design meets disability (selections)

Week Twelve

4.12: Disability & Pedagogy

  • Stephanie Kerschbaum, Toward a Rhetoric of Difference (selections)
  • Cynthia Lewiecki-Wilson & Brenda Brueggemann, Disability and the Teaching of Writing (selections)

Week Thirteen

4.19: Access as Community

Class Visit TBA

Readings TBA

Week Fourteen

4.26: Project Workshop

Week Fifteen

5.3: Presentations


Note: Many thanks to those who shared syllabi, assignments, and resources with me as I built this course, including Margaret Price, Aimi Hamraie, Sean Zdenek, Steven Hammer, and Lois Agnew.


Graduate Seminar - Spring 2017
Wednesdays 2-5pm | Parlin 104


Posthuman Practice

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