My Favorite Classes: Emerson

July 21, 2015

Colleges offer very high quality classes with enthusiastic and great professors. No matter what the subject is, your favorite classes from college will stick with you for the rest of your life. erin_kayata, Emerson ‘16, shares her favorite class and her experiences through her time at college so far. 

At Emerson, every student is required to at some point take a course on diversity in the United States. Many of the classes that fulfill this requirement center around racial diversity, but the one that really caught my attention focused solely on disability. A large part of  the course was dedicated to challenging the way disability is portrayed in the media. I took the class last year as a junior, and it was the most eye-opening experience I’ve had so far during my time at Emerson. The course is taught by Professor David Kociemba, who is a passionate and engaging instructor.

He discussed both physical and mental disabilities, emphasizing the representation of disabled people in film and television. We participated in numerous screenings both in and out of class. The first movie we watched in the class was the classic “Freaks,” which sparked a class discussion on whether the film’s treatment of its disabled characters was empowering or marginalizing for disabled people. Other viewing materials include movies such as “Children of a Lesser God” and “Wit” or television shows like “South Park” and “Parenthood.” Most of the grades from the class came from class participation or homework assignments that were based off of the assigned readings. Doing the weekly readings was time-consuming, but the material was always relevant and beneficial for class discussions, which were lively. Pretty much everyone in the class was very open-minded, which was good for the kind of issues we were dealing with. We had to write two major papers over the course of the semester. The professor was very flexible about the subject matter—students could either choose from a list of prompts or propose their own topic. He also graded rough drafts and annotated bibliographies to make sure we were headed in the right direction.

I strongly recommend this class for anyone who has the opportunity to take it. It will seriously change your way of thinking. There are so many ways that we as a society hurt people with disabilities, whether by the language we use every day when talking about them or the way disabled people are marginalized on a systemic level. This class completely changed personal view of all disabilities and the people who have them. I learned to stop viewing them as a problem or something to be fixed, and instead realized that they are something unique about a person that they may not want to change. This class taught me that many people embrace their disability. In fact, there are whole cultures surrounding it. This class is for someone who is ready to have their worldview fundamentally changed.  You learn so much about a culture that society as a whole completely ignores. Without a doubt, it is the class at Emerson that has changed me the most.

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