Disability Plots: Curriculum, Allegory, & History


  • Mark Helmsing George Mason University


Dis/Ability, Curriculum, enplotment, history


This article discusses theoretical approaches from disability studies and curriculum studies to help educators see how we position the experiences of, and discourses about, people with disabilities in the various narratives we recreate about “America” and U.S. national history. It uses Pinar’s curriculum theory of allegory (2015) to explain how historical narratives of disability can be read in diverse ways. The specific stories of disability that appear in the curriculum of history education performatively do different things. The article shares examples of disability histories taught in classrooms to argue that these are historical allegories of our present thoughts on disability with each narrative following a specific curricular mode of emplotment, ranging from romance to epic, horror, and more.