Part of our Fall 2023 Humanities Forum
Date & Time
October 25, 2023, 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm
Freedom and a Friend: Cultural Histories of the Guide Dog in the 20th Century
Aparna Nair, Assistant Professor, Health and Society; and the Centre for Global Disability Studies
Today, the figure of the guide dog has become a ubiquitous cultural symbol signifying blindness perhaps best shown by the fact that guide dog emojis commonly appear alongside those for wheelchairs and prosthetics. This talk will explore the role of popular culture, including books, films, and comic books, as well as African American newspapers and magazines, in reshaping public responses to the figure of the guide dog and the human handler.
Biography: Aparna Nair is a historian of disability, public health, and medicine. Her forthcoming book Fungible Bodies explores the relationships between disability, race, and colonialism in British India. She also has lived with epilepsy for more than thirty years and part of her work explores what it means to live with epilepsy in South Asia, and issues around passing, gender, identity and belonging. Recent work has also examined the relationship between animals and disability through the lens of the service animal. She teaches at the University of Toronto Scarborough’s Department of Health and Society.
Co-sponsored by the Office of Accessibliity and Disability Services; the Department of History; and the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Public Health.