Susan Burch is an associate professor of American Studies. Before joining the Middlebury faculty in 2009, she taught at Gallaudet University, King’s College (University of Aberdeen, Scotland), and the Ohio State University. Professor Burch also has worked as a research associate at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.
Professor Burch earned her BA degree in history and Soviet Studies from Colorado College and her MA and PhD in American and Soviet history from Georgetown University.
Research and teaching subjects “at the margins” draws Burch’s attention, and particularly the historical impact of race, ethnicity, disability, gender, and material culture on lived experiences in America, Russia, and beyond. For more details about her work see her cv and a sample of her publications.
Courses offered in the past four years.
▲ indicates offered in the current term
▹ indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]
AMST 0260 - American Disability Studies ▹
American Disability Studies: History, Meanings, and Cultures
In this course we will examine the history, meanings, and realities of disability in the United States. We will analyze the social, political, economic, environmental, and material factors that shape the meanings of "disability," examining changes and continuities over time. Students will draw critical attention to the connections between disability, race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, socioeconomic status, and age in American and transnational contexts. Diverse sources, including films and television shows, music, advertising, fiction, memoirs, and material objects, encourage inter and multi-disciplinary approaches to disability. Central themes we consider include language, privilege, community, citizenship, education, medicine and technology, and representation. HIS NOR SOC
Fall 2012, Fall 2014, Fall 2015
AMST 0301 - Madness in America ▲
Madness in America
It's a mad, mad course. In this course we will focus on representations of madness from colonial to late 20th century America, emphasizing the links between popular and material culture, science, medicine, and institutions. We will consider how ideas about madness (and normalcy) reflect broader (and shifting) notions of identity. Thus, issues of race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation, community, class, and region will play significant roles in our discussions and critiques. To complement foundational readings, this course will draw on American literature, documentary and entertainment films, music, and materials from the college's special collections. NOR SOC
Spring 2011, Spring 2015
AMST 0302 - Love, Sex, Race & Disability
Love, Sex, Race, and Disability
In this course we will explore the connections between gender and sexuality, race, and disability. Culture and representation, understandings of diversity and difference, and contexts (political, social, and historical) will provide central areas of study. Comparing and integrating topics and perspectives, we will critically analyze the constructions and politics of identity (and multiple identities) and historical perspectives on gender and sexuality, race, and disability. We also will consider the impact of education and activism, as well as the meanings of intimate relationships across and between genders and sexualities, races, and disabilities. Our work will foster a fundamental reexamination of American life and history through its study of bodies and minds, identities, languages, cultures, citizenship and rights, power and authority, what is a "natural" and "unnatural." This course will draw on diverse sources, including documentary and Hollywood films, poetry and short fiction, academic texts, such as Freakery, Gendering Disability and Disability and the Teaching of Writing, and memoirs, such as Eli Clare's Exile and Pride. NOR SOC
AMST 0307 - Disability Issues/U.S. & World ▹
Issues in Critical Disability Studies: U.S. and the World
Disability as a category and as lived experience plays an important but often overlooked role in national, transnational, and global contexts. In this course we will explore disability’s changing meanings in the United States and around the World. Comparative and transnational approaches will draw our attention to disability’s many meanings across wide-ranging historical, cultural, and geographical settings. Foundational concepts and principles, including ableism and Universal Design, shape our critical inquiry. Key themes frame the course: access, language, power, violence, normalcy, identity, community, institutions, and rights and justice. We will engage with diverse primary sources, from memoirs and documentary films to advertisements, material objects, and oral histories. CMP HIS NOR SOC
AMST 0500 - Independent Study ▲ ▹
Select project advisor prior to registration.
Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Winter 2012, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Winter 2014, Fall 2014, Winter 2015, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016
AMST 0700 - Senior Essay
For students who have completed AMST 0400 and are not pursuing an honors thesis. Under the guidance of one or more faculty members, each student will complete research leading toward a one-term, one-credit interdisciplinary senior essay on some aspect of American culture. The essay is to be submitted no later than the last Thursday of the fall semester. (Select project advisor prior to registration)
AMST 0710 - Honors Thesis ▲ ▹
For students who have completed AMST 0705, and qualify to write two-credit interdisciplinary honors thesis. on some aspect of American culture. The thesis may be completed on a fall/winter schedule or a fall/spring schedule. (Select a thesis advisor prior to registration)
Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Winter 2012, Spring 2012, Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Winter 2014, Winter 2015, Spring 2015, Spring 2016
ENAM 0700 - Senior Essay: Critical Writing
Senior Thesis: Critical Writing
Individual guidance and seminar (discussions, workshops, tutorials) for those undertaking one-term projects in literary criticism or analysis. All critical thesis writers also take the Senior Thesis Workshop (ENAM 700Z) in either Fall or Spring Term.
FYSE 1356 - Disability/Difference/Society
Disability, Difference, and Society
In this seminar we explore the varied and evolving meanings of disability—as condition, lived experience, and analytical framework—and the contexts that shape these meanings. Dominant issues, including representation, education, employment, bioethics, institutions, community, and policies and rights, will serve as our touchstones for research, analysis, and learning. We will pay rigorous attention to the links between disability and other significant social categories, such as race, ethnicity, socioeconomic class, gender, sexual orientation and identification, and age. While the United States is highlighted in this class, transnational and global components will figure significantly as well. Course materials and assignments offer different disciplinary approaches and writing styles, fostering both individual and collective work. Films, on line exhibits, music, advertising, popular media, and the material world reflect the wide range of sources on which this course draws. CW NOR SOC
Spring 2012, Fall 2014
IGST 0450 / HIST 0450 - U.S./Soviet Popular Culture
Twentieth-Century U.S. and Soviet Popular Culture
In this comparative history seminar we will examine the United States and Russia from the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 through the Cold War. Popular culture provides rich material and suggests analytical frameworks for examining American and Soviet perceptions of each other. It also invites critical analysis of each society's "way of being": their cultural values, political priorities, assumptions, and their personal and national identities. Students will examine the ways popular culture informed social movements and international relations, paying close attention to changes and continuities across the 20th century. Of particular interest is the way that popular culture, which initially was used to drive a wedge between American and Soviet peoples, eventually became an unexpected force of rapprochement in the 1970s and 1980s. Throughout the seminar students will consider how race, class, and gender shape cultural understandings of identity. This course is equivalent to HIST 0450. 3 hrs. sem. CMP HIS SOC
IGST 0476 - Disability in a Global Context ▲
Disability in a Global Context
Approximately 650 million people currently live with a disability, making this population the largest minority in the world. In this seminar we will explore the meaning of disability (as a condition) as well as the lived experience of people with disabilities in global, continental, and national contexts. Using an integrated perspective that applies knowledge about disability from diverse disciplines and methodologies, we will assess core models of disability: social, medical, linguistic, historical, political, institutional, educational, technological, attitudinal, and economic. Using the term disability within an analytical framework, we will examine the meaning of such fundamental concepts as identity, community, citizenship, and "normalcy." (Approval required) 3 hrs. sem. CMP
Signs of Resistance: American Deaf Cultural History, 1900–World War II http://www.nyupress.org
Women and Deafness: Double Visions (co-edited with Brenda Jo Brueggemann) http://gupress.gallaudet.edu
Unspeakable: The Story of Junius Wilson (co-authored with Hannah Joyner) http://uncpress.unc.edu
Editor-in-chief of The Encyclopedia of American Disability History http://factsonfile.infobasepublishing.com
Co-edited the anthology At the Intersections: Deaf and Disability Studies: Interdisciplinary Perspectives (with Alison Kafer)