Join writers and producers Carrie Sandahl and Alyson Patsavas as they screen sections of their documentary film Code of the Freaks and offer an in-depth analysis of cinematic portrayals of disability and sexuality. From Coming Home (1978) to Children of a Lesser God (1986) to The Sessions (2012), disabled people’s sexuality both fascinates and frightens both filmmakers and movie-goers. Sandahl and Patsavas bring their unflinching crip critique to expose and dismantle the work that these representations do.
From tales of tragic loss to inspirational feel-good flicks, disability serves as little more than storytelling convention—used to teach non-disabled characters and audiences alike important lessons about life and love. The trouble, the cast of Code of the Freaks argues, is that that these stories are often where viewers get most of their information about a disability. Code of the Freaks aims to change that. Using a conversation and critique of Hollywood cinema as its vehicle, the film explores the rich lives of disabled people living at the intersections of race, class, gender, and sexuality. In doing so, Code of the Freaks exposes common myths about disability: from the idea that heterosexual romance has curative powers to the belief that disability is a fate worse than death.
Information about Presenters
Dr. Carrie Sandahl is an Associate Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she founded and directs the Program on Disability Art, Culture, and Humanities. She also directs Chicago’s Bodies of Work, an arts consortium that supports disability culture. Her research focuses on disability identity in live performance. Sandahl’s anthology co-edited with Philip Auslander, Bodies in Commotion: Disability and Performance (University of Michigan), garnered the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE)’s award for Outstanding Book in Theatre Practice and Pedagogy in 2006. She is currently collaborating on a documentary film about Hollywood representations of disability, Code of the Freaks. Before working in Chicago, Sandahl was faculty in the School of Theatre at the Florida State University for 11 years.
Dr. Alyson Patsavas is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Disability and Human Development at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) where she also serves as the Associate Director of Undergraduate Studies. Her scholarship sits at the intersection of queer theory, cultural studies, and disability studies, and focuses on the cultural politics of pain. Her dissertation, The Logic of Accounting: Pain, Promises and Prescription, traces the logic binding seemingly disparate cultural discourses of pain and outlines crip queer interventions into this logic. She has articles in Different Bodies: Essays on Disability in Film and Television, The Feminist Wire, Disability Studies Quarterly, Crip Magazine, Somatechnics and the Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies. Patsavas is also a writer and producer on the forthcoming documentary film Code of the Freaks that examines crip culture’s response to Hollywood representations of disability.
This venue is wheels-accessible and can be lit by natural or fluorescent light. Attendees are asked not to wear fragranced products. For other access needs or questions, please contact Margaret Price at firstname.lastname@example.org. This event is free and open to the public.
Disability Studies Program; Disability Studies Graduate Student Association