University of Washington

Contact information

Joanne Woiak
Lecturer, Disability Studies Program; Bioethics & Humanities

Office: None

Box 354300
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195

I maintain the website: Eugenics and Disability: History and Legacy in Washington

Courses in UW Disability Studies, 2006-present


LSJ/CHID 332 Introduction to Disability Studies
Website for Fall 2011
Lectures Mon, Wed, Fri 10:30-11:20 in Savery 260. Quiz sections Tues and Thurs.

LSJ/CHID 332 Disability and Society: Introduction to Disability Studies
Syllabus (download in Word) for Winter 2010

Course description:This is a survey of Disability Studies, an interdisciplinary field that investigates, critiques, and enhances Western society’s understandings of disability and the social justice consequences. The course will introduce you to a critical framework for recognizing entrenched attitudes, barriers, and representations that stigmatize and discriminate against people with disabilities. We will interrogate how society generates and reinforces perceptions of disability as personal deficit and misfortune, and learn how the disability experience has been reinterpreted as a form of human variation and minority group status by the disability rights movement and by scholars in a range of disciplines. The readings, lectures, and assignments focus on analyzing the social, political, economic, architectural, cultural, and historical factors that shape the meanings of “disability.” We will explore the history of disability; disability rights activism; disability culture; disability public policy; arguments regarding quality of life, inclusion, and independence; perspectives on the roles of medicine and technology; theories of stigma and identity; analogies and differences between experiences of disability, race, and gender oppression; and portrayals of disability in the media. Credits for this course count towards the Disability Studies Minor and the Diversity Minor.

Courses in UW Comparative History of Ideas, 2008-present

CHID 270B Special Topics: History of Eugenics
Mon and Wed, 3:30-5:20, Savery Hall 137
Website for Autumn 2010

Course description: The eugenics movement of the early 20th century proposed and implemented a variety of policies for "improving the hereditary quality of the race." These ranged from educational efforts such as "fitter family contests" to oppressive measures such as immigration restriction and compulsory sterilization. The history of eugenics serves as an important case study in the interactions between social values and scientific research, as well as the social construction of human differences such as disability, class, race, gender, and sexuality. We will examine the science behind eugenics, legislation and other policies, sources of public support and opposition, transnational connections, and intersections between categories of people deemed "socially undesirable." We will address the persistence of some eugenics ideas and practices beyond WWII. This course has no prerequisites and is suitable for students in the humanities and the sciences.

CHID 270 Special Topics: History of Eugenics
Website for Autumn 2009

Courses in UW Department of History, 2001-2008

HIST 290 Special Topics: History of Eugenics (cross-listed with CHID 270)

HIST 490 Topics in History: Biology, Society, and Human Diversity
Website for Winter 2007

HIST 311 Science in Civilization: Antiquity to the 1600s
Website for Autumn 2005

HIST 310 Science and Religion in Historical Perspective
Syllabus (download in Word) for Winter 2004

HIST 498 Colloquium in History: History of Eugenics in American Society
Syllabus (download in Word) for Winter 2003

HSTEU 475 England in the Twentieth Century
Syllabus (download in Word) for Winter 2002

Courses in UW Bothell Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, 2003-2007

BIS 384 Literary and Popular Genres: The Social Functions of Science Fiction
Website for Autumn 2007

BIS 393 Scientific Revolutions
Syllabus (download in Word) for Summer 2006

BIS 393 Redesigning Humanity: Science Fiction and the Future of the Body
Website for Winter 2006

BIS 393 Socio-Politics of Science
Syllabus (download in Word) for Spring 2005

BIS 393 Biology and Society
Website for Winter 2005

BIS 484 Problems in Interdisciplinary Science: Sexual Science: Historical and Critical Perspectives
Website for Autumn 2004


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Send questions about this workspace to Joanne Woiak.