In Brightest Day: A Brief Introduction on Disability Studies


Before I dive head-first into the world that is fandom, I need to lay down a couple ground rules.

For starters, everything I write is up for interpretation, and I would love to have a good back-and-forth going with the readers and fellow writers.

The other thing I need to disclose is this: I am Aspergers. While I function normally in the day-to-day, this is something that I have worked hard to overcome. As such, things in my life have shaped my opinion. This is really just one small opinion of one small writer with a small Green Lantern plush as his avatar. I love feedback.

The concept of Disability Studies comes from lengthy debates about how “disability” should be defined. The theoretical roots for these debates reside in the medical, structural, and minority models. The medical model views disability as equivalent to a functional impairment; the minority model sees a lack of equal rights as a primary impediment to equality between able and disabled populations; and the structural model looks to environmental factors as the cause of disability.

This is all extremely new, mind you. Disability Studies took serious form in the early to mid-90s. Sabrina was still Clarissa, Ghostwriter was still on PBS, and Benjamin Sisko was still working on hitting every member of the Alpha Quadrant in the mouth. I’m barely older than the theory, and I’m twenty-two. Compared to Marxism, Disability Theory is a baby.

However, I believe that Disability Studies holds extreme weight for the superhero, science fiction, and fantasy genre, especially concerning supernatural abilities. It’s important to break down the abilities as a disorder to understand the deeper meaning of characters. A brief example of this, of which I will jump head first in eventually, is Clark Kent. While he is “Superman” on Earth, on Krypton, he would be an Average Joe. Superman’s powers are, by definition, a structural disability.

There are tons of examples like this, but the first one I’m going to tackle is the paralysis of Barbara Gordon, and how her reboot into Batgirl is viewed by the lens of Disability Studies. I’m aiming to finish up that by the beginning of February, so stay tuned into In Brightest Day for more info.

Until next time, please keep in touch with thoughts.