Ugly Laws Then and Now. Lecture by Susan Schweik
Thursday, May 2, 2013 - 7:00pm

As part of its series Representing Disability: Disability Studies and the Humanities, the Portland Center for Public Humanities presents a lecture by Susan Schweik:

Ugly Laws Then and Now

Thursday, May 2, 7 p.m.
Smith Memorial Student Union 238 |  1825 SW Broadway (Click here for information about accessing PSU and visitor parking options)

Free and open to the public.

Click here to see a video podcast of this lecture.

This talk explores developments in Portland in which a new and cynical manipulation of the Americans with Disabilities Act pits disability rights against homeless rights. Setting this development in the historical context of a previous ordinance, the infamous “ugly law,” that targeted poor disabled people in Portland and elsewhere, I will show how repudiation of that ordinance played a part in the creation of the Americans with Disabilities Act — an act now not only failing to prevent but even actively prescribing the targeting of poor disabled people. The case of Portland provides a broader opportunity to explore the relationship between people and physical space, considering how city ordinances, and even federal civil rights law, can turn people into objects; how at the same time urban objects can enjoy protected status almost as if they were people; and how disability oppression, in the context of classed and capitalist social relations, has played a shifting role in these dynamics. Portland will also provide a location and occasion for exploring the relation between law and poetry (particularly street poetry) as forms of urban expression.

Susan Schweik is Associate Dean of Arts and Humanities and a recipient of the Chancellor's Award for Advancing Institutional Excellence. A former Presidential Chair in Undergraduate Education for Disability Studies at U.C. Berkeley, she has been involved with the development of disability studies at Berkeley for fifteen years. She was co-coordinator of the Ed Roberts Fellowships in Disability Studies post-doctoral program at Berkeley (coordinated by the Institute for Urban and Regional Development). She has taught and co-taught undergraduate courses in Disability and Literature, Discourses of Disability, The Disability Rights Movement, Disability and Digital Storytelling, Psychiatric Disability, Literature and Medicine, and Race, Ethnicity and Disability, among others, and graduate courses in Body Theory and Disability Studies and Advanced Disability Studies. Her other teaching and research interests include twentieth century poetry, late nineteenth century American literature, women's studies and gender theory, urban studies, war literature and children's literature. She is a recipient of Berkeley's Distinguished Teaching Award. Her proudest honor is the name sign given to her by students at Gallaudet.

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You might also be interested in the seminar Twice-Described description: Notes Toward an Ekphrastic Culture with Susan Schweik on 5/2/2013 at 10am.

Free and open to the public. Co-sponsored by the English Department and the Disability Resource Center.

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Requests for reasonable accommodations may be made to Conference & Events Office, (503) 725-CONF, or the Disability Resource Center, (503) 725-4150, e-mail: In order to ensure that reasonable accommodations can be provided in time for this event, please make your requests as soon as possible.