“What...[thought] cannot bear to know”: Crippin’ the Limits of “Thinkability”

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Nirmala Erevelles


disability studies, queer theory, transformative pedagogy


In this essay, I show how disability studies scholarship can challenge normative ways of thinking in higher educational contexts. I call this “crippin’ the limits of thinkability.” To make this argument, I draw on one pedagogical context, the course Multicultural Education for Leadership Personnel, offered to nurse educators enrolled in a doctoral degree in Instructional Leadership offered jointly through the College of Education and the College of Nursing in the university where I teach. In this course, through disability studies scholarship, students came to interrogate their own socialization into authority-based practices intimately tied to the positivist claims of evidence-based research. Thus, in this paper, I use queer theory and crip theory to describe three methods: the study of limits, the study of ignorance, and the study of reading practice (Britzman, 1998) to illustrate how disability studies scholarship enabled students to critically reflect on the knowledge of bodies and the bodies of knowledge manifested in nursing pedagogy and curriculum. 

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