Orange Alert

Syracuse Hosts Lecture by Renowned Disability Scholar, Author Lennard J. Davis

Event coincides with 25th anniversary of Americans with Disabilities Act

Sept. 29, 2015, by Sarah Scalese

Lennard J. Davis
Lennard J. Davis

The most sweeping civil rights legislation in U.S. history and a model for disability-based laws around the globe is the subject of a special lecture, hosted by The Renée Crown University Honors Program in Syracuse University’s College of Arts and Sciences.

Lennard J. Davis, an internationally renowned disability scholar at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), will discuss the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) on Monday, Oct. 5, at 5 p.m. in Room 004 in Bird Library. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Stephen Kuusisto, director of the Honors Program and a professor of disability studies in the Center on Human Policy, Law, and Disability Studies in the School of Education at

Davis’ presentation coincides with the 25th anniversary of the ADA, a wide-ranging civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disability. His lecture is co-sponsored by the Consortium for Culture and Medicine, a cooperative program involving Syracuse, Le Moyne College, and SUNY Upstate Medical University.

“We are thrilled to host Lennard Davis, a pioneer in the field of disability studies who is intrigued by the notion of normalcy and how it has evolved in our culture,” says Kuusisto. “Davis has been a pioneer advancing the cultural study of disability. He also is an ardent champion for disability rights, raising awareness of the history, contributions, and issues still facing people with disabilities, in hopes of developing our next generation of advocates.”

Davis holds multiple titles at UIC, where he serves as a Distinguished Professor in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, as well as a professor in both the colleges of Medicine and Applied Health Sciences. He also is a visiting professor at the University of Westminster in London (U.K.), with ties to the Institute for Modern and Contemporary Culture and to the Department of English, Linguistics, and Cultural Studies.

A prolific teacher-scholar, Davis is the author or editor of more than 15 books, including the newly published Enabling Acts:  The Hidden Story of How the Americans with Disability Act Gave the Largest US Minority Its Rights (Beacon Press, 2015). He has co-edited several scholarly journals, in addition to publishing hundreds of book chapters, essays, articles, and reviews. Davis is also a highly sought-after speaker, having given invited, keynote, and plenary addresses all over the world.

Kuusisto says much of the program will draw from Davis’ new book—a little-known account of how leftist hippies from the University of California, Berkeley, formed an uneasy alliance with conservative Republicans to bring about the ADA in 1990. “It is truly a bipartisan bill, and has become a model for most civil rights laws everywhere,” Kuusisto adds. “Davis’ lecture will examine how the ADA has affected civil rights in the United States and the world, and where society must go next to next to fully embrace and empower people with disabilities.”

A scholar of English and comparative literature, Davis earned a Ph.D. from Columbia University. But growing up in a deaf family kindled his interest in disability studies. Davis has since thrown himself into disability education, advocacy, and litigation, using his role as a teacher-scholar to impact change. He serves on numerous advisory boards, and, since 2003, has directed UIC’s Project Biocultures. 

ASL interpretation and CART will be provided. For questions about accessible parking or additional accommodations, please contact Kate Hanson at or 315.443.2759.

Media Contact

Sarah Scalese