Editor of KU Common Book to discuss disability studies; series of public events to follow

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Attendees at a virtual talk will have the chance to meet and hear from disability rights activist Alice Wong, who edited this year’s KU Common Book.

Wong is the founder and director of the Disability Visibility Project, an online community purposed with creating and uplifting disability media and culture, according to the project’s website. She is also the editor of “Disability Visibility: First-person Stories from the Twenty-First Century,” chosen as KU’s 2022-23 Common Book. 

Each year, KU chooses one literary work as part of its Common Book program, which is meant to engage students, staff and faculty in reading and discussing pressing topics. “Disability Visibility” commentates on the vast lived experience of people with both visible and invisible disabilities, according to a news release from KU.

Wong will respond to questions previously submitted online in a virtual presentation at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 22. The public is invited to attend and can register to receive the Zoom information at this link. ASL interpretation and captioning will be provided, according to the release, and questions or accommodations can be directed via email to erika.adair@ku.edu. 

KU students are also encouraged to participate in an informal discussion with Wong on Thursday, Feb. 23. Students can register for that virtual talk at this link.

In addition to Wong’s talks, there are several “Disability Visibility” events lined up for this spring.

More upcoming events

KU’s New Music Guild performance

KU’s New Music Guild will perform an interactive concert that shows how disability is treated through sound and how to make the music art form more accessible, according to the news release. 

The free concert is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 10 at the Lied Center of Kansas, 1600 Stewart Drive. Audience members will be able to interact with the performers, ask questions, discuss themes and interact with the performers during an informal reception following the performance. Visit this link to learn more.

Radio talk with Rebekah Taussig and Megan Kaminski

Kansas Public Radio (KPR) host Kaye McIntire will have a conversation with Rebekah Taussig and Megan Kaminski on her show “KPR Presents Book Club,” according to the news release. Taussig is the author of “Sitting Pretty: The View from my Ordinary Resilient Disabled Body” and a KU graduate with a doctorate in creative nonfiction and disability studies, and Kaminski is an associate professor of English at KU. 

“The group will discuss Taussig’s memoir and share collections of solicited essays, poems and short stories about listeners’ personal experience living with disability,” the news release said.

The radio talk is scheduled for 6 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 12. Visit kansaspublicradio.org for more information. 

Public policy panel

KU’s Educate & Act series will host a panel on civic action and engagement, “Disability Justice and Public Policy,” according to the news release. Speakers from KU’s campus as well as specialists from outside the university will present.

The virtual panel is scheduled for noon Thursday, March 2. Visit this link to learn more about the event and get the Zoom conference link. 

Presentation of collaborative zine project

The Emily Taylor Center for Women & Gender Equity and campus partners will release a collaborative zine project called “Disability Justice is a Feminist Issue” to pay homage to this year’s Common Book, according to the release. A zine is a small booklet with a series of original work.

Anyone is welcome to submit an 8.5-by-11-inch page that illustrates themes of disability justice, ableism, gender and feminism by Saturday, April 1, according to the release. Then during the presentation, those whose work were selected for the project will reflect on their submissions and answer questions from audience members.

The presentation is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday, April 13 at Spencer Museum of Art, 1301 Mississippi Street in Lawrence. Visit this link to send in submissions or learn more about the event.

The Dancing Wheels Company and School performance

Dancers with the Dancing Wheels Company and School — a professional dance company featuring dancers with and without disabilities — are set to perform in Lawrence. 

“Performing since 1980, Dancing Wheels offer performers with disabilities full and equal access to the world of dance,” according to the release. “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.”

The dance performance is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 14 at the Lied Center of Kansas, 1600 Stewart Drive. Ticket costs range from $11-$16 for students and youth and $20-$30 for adults. Visit this link to order tickets online or to learn more about the Dancing Wheels Company and School.

Talk with professor and journalist Chloé Cooper Jones

Chloé Cooper Jones, KU graduate, philosophy professor and freelance journalist, will share at KU about her memoir, “Easy Beauty,” according to the news release. She’ll delve into her “thoughts about disability, motherhood and the search for a new way of seeing and being seen,” the news release said.

Cooper Jones, who’s from Tonganoxie, Kansas, was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in feature writing for her article, “Fearing for His Life,” about Ramsey Orta, the man who filmed the police murder of Eric Garner, according to the release.

Cooper Jones’ talk is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 25 in the Hall Center Conference Hall on KU’s campus. It will also be available virtually via a Hall Center Crowdcast, a video platform for online conferences and webinars, according to the news release. Visit this link to learn more about the event.

All events are open to the public. Visit commonbook.ku.edu for more information and updates about “Disability Visibility.”

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Maya Hodison (she/her), equity reporter, can be reached at mhodison (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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