LAWRENCE — A virtual visit from Alice Wong, disability rights activist and editor, will usher in several remaining activities surrounding the University of Kansas’ 10th Common Book, “Disability Visibility: First-person Stories from the Twenty-First Century.”
Wong will respond to submitted questions in an online presentation Feb. 22 and participate in an informal conversation with students Feb. 23 as the university community continues its yearlong exploration of the anthology, which provides diverse perspectives on the lived experience of both visible and invisible disabilities. Questions can be submitted through an online form by Feb. 2.
The Common Book program, presented in partnership by KU Libraries, the Hall Center for the Humanities and KU Academic Success, aims to build community among students, faculty and staff; encourage intellectual engagement through reading and discussion; and create shared conversation about topics and issues of significance in today’s world.
The talk is just one of many “Disability Visibility” events happening on and around KU’s Lawrence campus this spring. Here’s a rundown of the remaining activities:
- KU’s New Music Guild will perform an interactive concert that examines how disability is treated in the medium of sound. The concert will take place at 7 p.m. Feb. 10 at the Lied Center of Kansas with an informal reception to follow. During the reception, the audience will have an opportunity to reflect with the performers, mingle, ask questions and discuss the themes of the concert with the performers.
- On Feb. 12, Kansas Public Radio’s Kaye McIntire and her show “KPR Presents Book Club” will welcome Rebekah Taussig, author of “Sitting Pretty: The View from my Ordinary Resilient Disabled Body,” and Megan Kaminski, KU associate professor of English. Taussig is a KU graduate with a doctorate in creative nonfiction and disability studies. The group will discuss Taussig’s memoir and share collections of solicited essays, poems and short stories about listeners’ personal experience living with disability.
- Alice Wong, editor of this year’s Common Book, will speak at a virtual event at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 22. Register to attend the event and use this form by Feb. 2 to submit questions for the presenter. Students can also register here to join Wong for a student conversation at 3 p.m. Feb. 23 as well as submit questions for consideration using this form.
- KU’s Educate & Act series turns its focus to “Disability Justice and Public Policy” in its March 2 panel on civic action and engagement. Presenters from across campus, along with specialists from outside the university, will take part in a session beginning at noon. Access the event through this link to the Zoom conference.
- Join the Emily Taylor Center for Women & Gender Equity and campus partners at 6 p.m. April 13 for the release of "Disability Justice is a Feminist Issue," a collaborative zine project complementing “Disability Visibility.” After select contributors reflect on their submissions, there will be opportunity for Q&A. All are invited to submit an 8.5-by-11-inch page exploring the themes of disability justice, ableism, gender and feminism by April 1.
- The Dancing Wheels Company and School, a professional dance organization bringing together dancers with and without disabilities, will perform at 7:30 p.m. April 14 at the Lied Center. Performing since 1980, Dancing Wheels offer performers with disabilities full and equal access to the world of dance. The performance is funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which awarded a grant aimed at “Utilizing the Performing Arts to Enhance Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Initiatives.” A team from KU worked with the dance company and school to integrate curriculum into KU classes.
- Chloé Cooper Jones, KU graduate, philosophy professor and freelance journalist, will speak about her memoir, “Easy Beauty,” thoughts about disability, motherhood and the search for a new way of seeing and being seen at 7:30 p.m. April 25 in the Hall Center Conference Hall and online via a Hall Center Crowdcast, a video platform for online conferences and webinars. Cooper Jones, a Tonganoxie native, was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in feature writing for “Fearing for His Life,” a profile of Ramsey Orta, the man who filmed the killing of Eric Garner.
Please visit the Common Book website for updates and more information on these events.
— Story by Abdullah Al-Awhad