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Diversity & Inclusion Reading List: Ability (Physical, Mental, Emotional)

A guide to readings and resources on the topics of ability, activism, ethnicity, race, higher education, gender, nationality, religion, sexuality, and class.

DisCrit book cover  Waist High book cover  Disability as Diversity book cover


Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We're Not Hurting : Real Talk for When There's Nowhere to Go but Up

This book identifies emotional pain--uniquely and profoundly affecting the Black experience--as the root of lashing out through desperate acts.

The Body Is Not an Apology: the Power of Radical Self-Love

As we awaken to our own indoctrinated body shame, we feel inspired to awaken others and to interrupt the systems that perpetuate body shame and oppression against all bodies. When we act from this truth on a global scale, we usher in the transformative opportunity of radical self-love, which is the opportunity for a more just, equitable, and compassionate world--for us all.

College of the Overwhelmed: the Campus Mental Health Crisis and What to Do About It

College of the Overwhelmed is a landmark book that explores the stressors that cause so many college students to suffer psychological problems. The book is filled with insights and stories about the current mental health crisis on our nation's campuses and offers a hands-on guide for helping students overcome stress and succeed in a college environment.

Crip Theory: Cultural Signs of Queerness and Disability

Crip Theory attends to the contemporary cultures of disability and queerness that are coming out all over. Both disability studies and queer theory are centrally concerned with how bodies, pleasures, and identities are represented as “normal” or as abject, but Crip Theory is the first book to analyze thoroughly the ways in which these interdisciplinary fields inform each other.

Disability As Diversity in Higher Education

Addressing disability not as a form of student impairment - as it is typically perceived at the postsecondary level - but rather as an important dimension of student diversity and identity, this book explores how disability can be more effectively incorporated into college environments. Chapters propose new perspectives, empirical research, and case studies to provide the necessary foundation for understanding the role of disability within campus climate and integrating students with disabilities into academic and social settings.

A Disability History of the United States

Covers the entirety of U.S. disability history, from pre-1492 to the present. Disability is not just the story of someone we love or the story of whom we may become; rather it is undoubtedly the story of our nation. It places the experiences of people with disabilities at the center of the American narrative.

Disability in Higher Education

Most books on disability in institutional settings approach the subject from a highly theoretical perspective, or they focus narrowly on legal issues. Drawing upon multiple theoretical frameworks, scholarly research and direct experience, the authors develop a unique, social-justice-based framework that takes into consideration the lived experiences of students, faculty, and staff with disabilities. They offer proven strategies for addressing ableism within a variety of settings, including classrooms, residence halls, admissions and orientation, student organizations, career development, and counseling

The Disability Rights Movement

Tells a complex and compelling story of an ongoing movement that seeks to create an equitable and diverse society, inclusive of people with disabilities.

Disability Studies and the Environmental Humanities

Designed as a reader for undergraduate and graduate courses, Disability Studies and the Environmental Humanities employs interdisciplinary perspectives to examine such issues as slow violence, imperialism, race, toxicity, eco-sickness, the body in environmental justice, ableism, and other topics. With a historical scope spanning the seventeenth century to the present, this collection not only presents the foundational documents informing this intersection of fields but also showcases the most current work.


This groundbreaking volume brings together major figures in Disability Studies in Education (DSE) and Critical Race Theory (CRT) to explore some of today's most important issues in education.

The Fat Pedagogy Reader

We live in a culture that privileges thinness and enables weight-based oppression, often expressed as fat phobia and fat bullying. New interdisciplinary fields that problematize obesity have emerged, including critical obesity studies, critical weight studies, and fat studies. There also is a small but growing literature examining weight-based oppression in educational settings in what has come to be called fat pedagogy.

Fat Shame: Stigma and the Fat Body in American Culture

Locating the origins of the cultural denigration of fatness in the mid 19th century, Amy Erdman Farrell argues that the stigma associated with a fat body preceded any health concerns about a large body size. Farrell draws on a wide array of sources, including political cartoons, popular literature, postcards, advertisements, and physician's manuals to explore the link between our historic denigration of fatness and our contemporary concern over obesity.

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body

Roxane Gay addresses the experience of living in a body that she calls 'wildly undisciplined.' She casts an insightful and critical eye over her childhood, teens, and twenties -- including the devastating act of violence that was a turning point at age 12 -- and brings readers into the present and the realities, pains, and joys of her daily life.

The Minority Body

Elizabeth Barnes argues compellingly that disability is primarily a social phenomenon- a way of being a minority, a way of facing social oppression, but not a way of being inherently or intrinsically worse off. The goal of this book is to articulate and defend a version of the view of disability that is common in the Disability Rights movement.

Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture

Roxane Gay collects original and previously published pieces that address what it means to live in a world where women have to measure the harassment, violence, and aggression they face, and where they are "routinely second-guessed, blown off, discredited, denigrated, besmirched, belittled, patronized, mocked, shamed, gaslit, insulted, bullied" for speaking out.

Readings for Diversity and Social Justice

Readings for Diversity and Social Justice an anthology to covering social oppression from a social justice standpoint. With sections dedicated to racism, sexism, classism, heterosexism, and ableism, as well as transgenderism, ethno-religious oppression, and adult and ageism. Selections in each section have been chosen to keep topic coverage timely and readings accessible and engaging for students.

Sisters of the Yam: Black Women and Self-Recovery

In Sisters of the Yam, bell hooks reflects on the ways in which the emotional health of black women has been and continues to be impacted by sexism and racism. Desiring to create a context where black females could both work on their individual efforts for self-actualization while remaining connected to a larger world of collective struggle, hooks articulates the link between self-recovery and political resistance.

Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice

A sourcebook of theoretical foundations, pedagogical and design frameworks, and curricular models for social justice teaching practice. Covers the most relevant issues and controversies in social justice education in a practical, hands-on format. Includes activities and discussion questions, providing an accessible pedagogical approach to issues of oppression in classrooms. Also focuses on providing students the tools needed to apply their learning about these issues.

Waist-High in the World

In Waist-High in the World, Mairs explores in her inimitable voice the subject that has always been in the background of her writing, but which she takes on here for the first time at book-length - disability and the way it shapes a life. It begins with a disavowal ("I cannot begin to write this book ... I don't want to think about my crippled life") and ends with a declaration of hope ("I choose joy"). In between, Mairs gives us a brilliant portrait of an issue and experience too rarely portrayed and talked about.