Writing Program Administration and Disability – Part the II: Summary and Thoughts on Amy Vidali’s “Disabling Writing Program Administration”

I really need to start making shorter titles.  I had a poresentation that I did in December that was called, “Autoethnographies: Confronting and Subverting the Neurotypical Bias in First Year Composition Classrooms.”  Yeah, I think they ended up cutting off the words after Neurotypical bias.  But, alas, that doesn’t really matter.

So, this type of post will be a summary, thoughts, and how I might use it in my paper.


Vidali, Amy. “Disabling Writing Program Administration.” Writing Program Administration, vol. 38, no. 2, 2015, pp. 32-55.


There is a narrative trope (commonly used thing) when narrating one’s experience as a writing program administrator (WPA) to state how all of the problems that one faces lead to depression and anxiety and how one overcomes it.

I’m gonna put how I read this article in narrative form:

Once upon a time, a situation threatened our hero, the WPA.  The situation became so great and terrible that the monsters depression and anxiety began to threaten the WPA.  Sleepless nights of anxiety and sleepy days of depression plagued our hero endlessly.  But, in the end, she began practicing techniques to fight the monsters and overcame the horrible monsters and became healthy once more.

NOTE: I really want to mention here that Vidali never gives this specific example.

So, Vidali concludes that Writing Program Administrators must be very careful when they narrate their experiences that they don’t fall into this ultimately ableist narrative trope of the overcoming narrative.

So, something that I want to find now is an article or blog post on the overcoming narrative and how it is biased. (Stuff I want to research will be in purple).  If this messes with your eyes, let me know and I can make these italics or bold or something like that.

Overcoming Narrative

Before I leave, I want to quick give a summary of my basic understanding of the overcoming narrative.  “I had something that made it so I couldn’t do this, but I overcame it.”  That’s pretty much an overcoming narrative wrapped up into one little sentence.

This narrative is messed up and ableist because the “overcoming” is simply acting not disabled.  For example, I’m autistic and “overcoming” autism would be trying to–and failing, I might add–pass as not autistic.

Possible Use

I think there are several ways that I can use this article.  One use would be to provide evidence that a disability studies perspective to writing program administration is possible.


Concluding thoughts

So, you may read at several times some things that you have already read before.  So, some of what I have written here will most likely be going into my paper.  I like to do this because when it comes time to actually write the paper, I’ve got all this stuff that I have written.  And I don’t have to use all of it.  I create a cutting room floor document for all of the things that don’t really seem like they fit.

I did this for my thesis and actually found that much of what I had cut out in a previous draft could actually be used in the final draft if placed in a different place.  So, something to think about when writing a big paper.  Write a crapton and keep it all because it might come in handy at some point.  If not for this paper, then maybe for a paper in the future.


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