Brilliant Imperfection

brilliant imperfections text overlaying books


Academic Team:
Elizabeth Wheeler (
First-Year Experience Seminar Instructor
Ava Moe (
FIG Assistant

9 credits
UGST 109 First Year Experience Seminar- 1 Credit 
CRN: 16237: M: 2:00PM-2:50PM, PLC 072  
ENG 386 Bodies in Comics- 4 Credits 
CRN: 16386: TR: 2:00PM-3:20PM, FEN 117  
WGS 221 Bodies and Power- 4 Credits 
CRN: 16389: TR: 12:00PM- 1:20PM, ESL 105 

About the FIG:

Disability Studies is an important and growing interdisciplinary academic field. If you have or think you may have an interest in disability issues, professions that serve disabled people, and/or the Disability Studies Minor at UO, this is the FIG for you. Both courses within the FIG, ENG 386 Bodies in Comics and WGS 221 Bodies and Power, take disability as a major theme (among others) and both count toward the minor and toward Core Education requirements in Areas of Inquiry and Cultural Literacy. Even if you are not interested in the minor, however, the two classes will connect in vital ways that will make your first term at UO a memorable intellectual journey.  

The FIG will also feature artmaking, sports and recreation, and social outings with members of UO and local disability communities, as well as guest speakers and discussions that encourage reflection on the lived experiences and institutional realities of students with disabilities on the UO campus.  

Deep-Dive FIG: Please note this FIG contains an intermediate course at the 300-level. This course has been vetted by First Year Programs to ensure first-term students can achieve success. The instructor will be available to assist students along the way.

ENG 386 Bodies in Comics- CoreEd or major satisfying course

This course satisfies the Arts and Letters Group Requirement and the Identity, Pluralism, and Tolerance (IP) category of the Multicultural Requirement. It also serves as a Social Models option for the Disability Studies Minor. One could say that most comics are about the human body, in all its variations, exaggerations, erotics, poses, powers, and vulnerabilities. This course examines the human body in contemporary comics with particular attention to disability and gender. We’ll look at three important comics genres: memoir, fantasy, and superheroes. With each text we’ll also read about bodymind matters like body image, violence, trauma, depression, Deaf culture, ADHD, and spinal cord injury—and we’ll see how comics renders such profound matters through fantasy, visual metaphors, and good storytelling. Popular texts like Hyperbole and a Half, Axe Cop, and Marvel superhero comics offer a portal into the deepest questions of self and diversity. How can anyone communicate the experience of isolation or despair to other people? How does the multigenerational trauma of racism alter our definitions of disability? Is it possible to make disability cool without falling back into gender stereotypes? Do visual representations of men and women open up or hinder readers’ self-images?

WGS 221 Bodies and Power - CoreEd or major satisfying course

Designed to satisfy general education requirements (Social Science group and Identity, Pluralism and Tolerance multicultural category) WGS 221 focuses on gender, the body, and dis/ability as a particular nexus of experience and social meaning, influenced as well by race, sexuality, age and class. This course places bodies and how we understand them within contexts shaped by social relations and systems of power. We will examine the ways critical disability studies both enriches feminist theory and benefits from feminist and queer perspectives. We will explore how our society thinks about and represents bodies, ability, disability and illness and how those naturalized beliefs affect all of our lives, whether we are disabled or not.  The readings for this course have been chosen to offer theoretical tools for thinking about a range of disabilities and our beliefs about them (including those involving mobility, senses, cognition, and psychological states and disabilities that result from illnesses, both apparent and invisible). Our focus will be on social, as opposed to medical, models of understanding disability and difference and will highlight activism and political interventions led by people with disabilities. The readings for this class offer a range of opinions by people with disabilities that I hope will inspire discussion and debate in class.

Meet Your FIG Assistant and Instructor!