M1.1 Handout

Session M1.1

The Disability History of an Interview

Workshop Leaders:

Kevin Gotkin, Anne Dalke, Stephanie Kerschbaum, and Clare Mullaney


Chosen Film: Wrestling with My Father (2010)

            (URL: https://vimeo.com/7237165)


The Natural History of an Interview — a lesson in 3 steps:

  1. soaking (multiple viewing-listenings)
  2. scene selection
  3. intensive study through practices of description

Guidelines for Description:

Are you describing?

Or are you interpreting?

                        Are you showing?

Or are you telling?

 1. What gestures are in the film? Do you need them described? Or how would you describe them?

2. What are the sounds in the film? Do you need them described? Or how would you describe them?

3. What other visual or aural cues are important in this film?

4. More important to our exercise is behavior than media, so focus on what is happening rather than on the camera.

5. Account for different levels of scale. Description has often been talked about as flattening behavior so that one one action or gesture is privileged over another.

6. What can we know about the meaning of behavior by describing it?

Post-Describing: The Big Questions

1. What were your experience describing the film? What new insights and limitations emerged for you?

2. How do practices of description inform the field of disability studies? For a field foregrounded in theory, does disability seem to exist in tension with description? Or might description and disability go hand in hand?

3. What felt “natural” or “unnatural” about this synthetic process?

4. How does “Wrestling With My Father” make meaning? Or how do we make the film make meaning?