Start: March 15, 2023 6 p.m.
End: March 15, 2023 7 p.m.
Contact Details
kjharrelson@bsu.edu

Big Questions Big Ideas

Joyce Huff (English):
The Trouble with Normal: Rethinking Disability
March 15, 6pm-7pm
Muncie Public Library, Kennedy Branch

What is normal for one person may not be so for another. In Darin Strauss’s award-winning novel Chang & Eng, the conjoined twins made famous by P.T. Barnum are depicted as haunted by their longing to be separated. But, according to historian Alice Dreger, the real Chang and Eng only ever considered separation once, and it was their wives’ wishes rather than their own that caused them to do so. Dreger’s research asks us to consider the idea that human beings who have been conjoined all their lives might be accustomed to it—that what is normal for them might be different from the norms of unconjoined people. Norms inform the way we structure our lived environments. We create our public spaces, consumer products, fictional representations, and cultural codes of behavior based on our assumptions about what is normal. This creates barriers to participation for those whose minds and bodies work differently from what our society imagines as normal. Disability rights challenges us to rethink “normal” and restructure our world for greater inclusion.