Disability Studies

Michael Rembis, PhD

The Center for Disability Studies (CDS) has had another successful year. Housed administratively in the History Department and the College of Arts and Sciences, the CDS offers an interdisciplinary masters degree and Graduate Certificate, as well as a vibrant schedule of intellectual programming and events in the community. Now in its 10th year, the CDS has affiliated faculty in History, English, Global Gender Studies, Comparative Literature, Anthropology, Social Work, and Architecture and Design. It is unique in that it is one of the only Centers in North America that is situated primarily in the liberal arts and sciences, and not in education or the health sciences.

UB Sim pic of Scott Wersinger with students and brains.

During the 2018/2019 academic year, the CDS got a new website and several new affiliated faculty, including Sarah Handley-Cousins and Jennifer Barclay. Handley-Cousins began her work in the department in fall 2018. She specializes in war, disability, and the body, focusing specifically on the United States Civil War and its veterans. Barclay, who joined the faculty in fall 2019, specializes in the history of disability, specifically as it relates to enslaved Africans and their descendants in the United States. Both of our new colleagues will add exciting new courses to our curriculum and will invigorate our dynamic programming with new ideas.

The CDS had another busy year of programming. In spring 2019, the CDS cosponsored two major events and hosted its own one-day symposium. In February, the CDS, along with several other cosponsors organized, Deafness and Architecture: Architecture for, by, and with Deafness, a one-day symposium in the newly renovated Hayes Hall on the UB South campus. The event, which featured three outside speakers and a roundtable discussion, which included CDS director Michael Rembis, was attended by more than 150 people. In April 2019, the CDS cosponsored with Poetics and the Department of English, a two day visit by Michael Davidson from the University of California,San Diego. Davidson provided an evening poetry reading at Western New York Book Arts in downtown Buffalo, and gave an academic talk on modernism and eugenics on the UB North campus. Both events were a tremendous success.

On May 8, 2019, the CDS hosted, with multiple cosponsors, Madness, Violence, and Technologies of Care: A Symposium, in the student union on the UB North campus. The symposium featured three separate panels throughout the day, all of which were well attended. The CDS brought in five speakers from California, Washington, South Carolina, New York City, and Boston, and featured several UB faculty who presented their own work. In November 2019, the CDS and Joining Forces cosponsored a talk by Audra Jennings, whose book, Out of the Horrors of War: Disability Politics in World War II America (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016), was a finalist for the best book award from the Disability History Association.

All CDS events are free, open to the public, and accessible. They are made possible through a modest budget provided by the College of Arts and Sciences, as well as donations from interested and engaged community members. We welcome input and ideas for future programming from members of the community. We are already working on programming for next year, as well as the creation of online courses that will be offered both to degree seeking students and to nondegree seeking members of the global community. We hope to see you at some of our events and in our classes! If you would like more information about anything that we do, or if you would like to make a tax-deductible donation to the CDS, please visit our website: