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The Ruby is a catalyst for creativity and a home for making art at Duke.
Date & Time
April 25, 2019April 26, 2019
Free; Registration required.
Rubenstein Arts Center
2020 Campus Dr
Durham, NC 27708 United States

The field of disability studies suggests that our vulnerabilities and weaknesses are what make us human. Starting from the essential perspective that disability rights are human rights, the study of disability helps us to realize that difference is, perhaps paradoxically, the one thing we all have in common. How do our definitions of “health” shift when we accept that there is no “normal”? How does the centering of disability alter our disciplinary assumptions, and enrich our educational, medical, legal, and artistic practices?

Explore these questions at “Disability in the Disciplines,” a two-day conference at Duke University on April 25-26, 2019. Organized by the Disability and Access Initiative, an interdisciplinary faculty working group within the Health Humanities Lab, the conference will engage Duke faculty across the schools and departments, as well as students and members of the community.

Thursday, April 25


5-6pm (Film Theater 123): Keynote by renowned disability studies scholar Lennard Davis (author of Enforcing Normalcy, Bending Over Backwards, The End of Normal, and the “Biocultures Manifesto”). Davis will describe the generative potential of interdisciplinary collaboration across the arts, sciences, and humanities.

Reception and Performance

6-8pm: Catered reception (Room 124) and interactive performing arts experience led by Marina Tsaplina, founder and director of THE BETES (von der Heyden Studio Theater). Along with students from Duke’s Reimagining Medicine pilot program, Marina will demonstrate how engaging with stories and originally designed puppets can challenge our assumptions about normalcy and embodiment and create a healthier approach to human difference.

Friday, April 26

9–10:15am: Faculty-led Breakouts Sessions
• Neurodiversity & Mental Health
• Medical Ethics & the Culture of Care

10:45–11:45am: Community Engagement Plenary

11:45am–2:45pm: Lunch

12:45–2pm: Student-Led Plenary on Accessible Pedagogy

2:30–3:45pm: Faculty-led Breakouts Sessions
• Design
• Theater and The Arts

4–5:15pm: Faculty-led Breakouts Sessions
• Disability Law & Human Rights
• Language, History, & Representation

5:30-6:30pm: Student Exposition and Closing Reception

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