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Rewriting the Story: Bodies, Illness and Disability

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This module invites you to consider the way bodies, illness and disability can be explored and constructed in creative writing.

The narratives we read in the media about disability are often centred on ‘suffering’, or bravery in the face of adversity, ‘surviving’ rather than simply living. What if we rewrote that story?

Drawing on aspects of medical humanities, theories of wellbeing and the therapeutic potential of creativity, this module will offer a safe and supportive space in which to explore, express and challenge ideas surrounding disability.

No previous writing experience is required.

Learning and teaching

The module will be delivered through 10 two-hour sessions, made up of lectures, class discussions, small group work and debates. Class sessions will be supplemented by resources available to students via Learning Central.

Workshops are likely to cover some of the following topics:

  • How are bodies constructed in literature?
  • How important is the media in understanding constructions of illness and disability?
  • That’s ableist: why is language important?
  • How can storytelling change the way we understand bodies?
  • How can medical humanities change the way illness and disability is perceived?
  • Why is disability activism important?
  • How can creativity be therapeutic?

Coursework and assessment

To award credits we need to have evidence of the knowledge and skills you have gained or improved. Some of this has to be in a form that can be shown to external examiners so that we can be absolutely sure that standards are met across all courses and subjects.

The most important element of assessment is that it should enhance your learning.

Our methods are designed to increase your confidence and we try very hard to devise ways of assessing you that are enjoyable and suitable for adults with busy lives.

The basis of assessment will be a portfolio of writing (up to 1,500 words).

Emphasis will be on meaningful reflective writing, as well as possibilities for rewriting, imaginative writing, and critical writing.

The writing will be particularly assessed on its engagement with the topics of the module and a developing understanding of writing for wellbeing.

Reading suggestions

The course tutor will provide extracts from relevant primary and secondary material that are relevant to the course and the particular interests of the group.

Library and computing facilities

As a student on this course you are entitled to join and use the University’s library and computing facilities. Find out more about using these facilities.


Our aim is access for all. We aim to provide a confidential advice and support service for any student with a long term medical condition, disability or specific learning difficulty. We are able to offer one-to-one advice about disability, pre-enrolment visits, liaison with tutors and co-ordinating lecturers, material in alternative formats, arrangements for accessible courses, assessment arrangements, loan equipment and dyslexia screening.