Disability Studies and Interdisciplinarity formed the basis of Professor David Bolt’s Inaugural Professorial Lecture.
Liverpool Hope’s Professor of Disability Studies explored how interdisciplinarity enables curricular reform and addresses the need for recognition of non-normative knowledge, more complex understandings of disability, and changes in social attitudes.
In his lecture From Avoidance to Appreciation: The Cultural and Social Values of Disability Studies and Interdisciplinarity, Professor Bolt referenced the origins of the concept of ‘avoidance’ and how things have changed in the preceding years.
He said: “More than half a century ago, avoidance was deemed an act of prejudice by social scientists Gordon Allport and Erving Goffman; identified as a problem for the growing disability movement and thus as a fundamental concern for the field of disability studies.”
Professor David Bolt has shown that this avoidance takes many forms in academia, one of which is curricular, whereby a course considers representations of disability that it nonetheless fails to meet with informed critical work.
Such critical avoidance is addressed in part by the very acknowledgement of Disability Studies as an important academic field in its own right, but also through its meaningful engagement with other disciplines.
This interdisciplinary approach is demonstrated in the Centre for Culture and Disability Studies; the Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies; the Literary Disability Studies book series; the biennial Disability and Disciplines conference; and the Disability Studies MA.
Professor Bolt has also demonstrated this through a number of book projects, including the new monograph Cultural Disability Studies in Education, and the forthcoming multivolume publication A Cultural History of Disability.
Speaking about the Inaugural Lecture, Professor Bolt said: “I am grateful to everyone who attended the lecture. In particular I must thank the school administrator Amy Scott for organising the event, at rather short notice, in her characteristically positive way.
“More broadly I must thank my manager Claire Penketh and academic support worker Holly Lightburn, as well as the other core members of the Centre for Culture and Disability studies and board members of the Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies. I know how lucky I am to have given this lecture in the presence of such dear colleagues alongside my family, especially my parents, brother, and daughter.”
Professor Bolt is Director of the Centre for Culture and Disability Studies and the Disability Studies MA programme at Liverpool Hope. He is also an Editor-in-Chief, Series Editor, General Editor, Volume Editor, Guest Editor, and Author, and has been instrumental in the publication of more than 55 academic books and journals.