January Featured Faculty: Robert McRuer

Professor Robert McRuer recently won the Alan Bray Memorial Book Award for his book Crip Theory: Cultural Signs of Queerness and Disability. Since Prof. McRuer began to further his unique research in the combined fields of queer and disabilities studies, he has also edited an anthology, taught at GW, and continued to develop his ideas. Although the book is written for a scholarly audience, Prof. McRuer expressed his delight that people outside the academic world are finding the book accessible and meaningful.

In an informal interview, Prof. McRuer explained the emerging scholarship for the intersection of Queer and Disability Studies. Historically, Queer Studies has not been inclusive of Disability Studies, which can marginalize certain people. For example, AIDS is a very prominent topic relating to people in Queer as well as Disability Studies, so the interdisciplinary discourse pushes a more complete view of AIDS in our culture. Prof. McRuer also spoke about the importance of reclaiming the word “crip” for discussing disabled identity.

Prof. McRuer has been with GW since 1997 and regularly teaches two courses: 175 LBGT (Lesbian Bi Gay Transgender) Literature and 172 Disability Literature. Prof. McRuer says that although the courses are separate, it is rare that his syllabi do not incorporate topics from both disciplines. Prof. McRuer enjoys teaching the classses and participating in his students’ experience of learning that the course is not simply about overcoming discrimination. Rather, the courses are an enlightening opportunity to read about identity issues, institutional power and containment, and cultural hierarchies.

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