BHSU instructor applauds representation of disability in South Park sitcom

Author: BHSU Communications/Tuesday, January 27, 2015/Categories: 2015

, the animated sitcom known for adult humor and satirical content, uses the most progressive depiction of individuals with disabilities on television, according to Dr. Rickie-Ann Legleitner, instructor of English at Black Hills State University.

Legleitner, also director of the BHSU Writing Center, will present an open lecture as part of the Geek Speak lecture series titled "Disruptive Depictions of Disability in South Park" Thursday, Jan. 29 at 4 p.m. in Jonas Hall 107.

"South Park is known for throwing political correctness out the window and its content can be fairly insulting," said Legleitner.  "But according to the field of disability studies, the show treats individuals with disabilities as fully-rounded characters rather than promoting images that create pity or sympathy."

According to Legleitner, examples of South Park&rsquos positive depictions of disabilities include Timmy, a boy with limited vocabulary who uses a wheelchair and Jimmy, a "handi-capable" South Park classmate with an optimistic outlook who uses his forearm crutches to his advantage.    

"Initially you might think characters like Timmy are vulgar, but South Park breaks down stereotypes and just lets these kids be kids," said Legleitner.

Legleitner&rsquos interest in disability studies originated from her doctoral research in American literature.  She began noticing recurring text in the American literature representing disabilities.

"I started recognizing how embedded it is in our culture to have stereotypes or metaphors that involve disability.  I recognized a deficiency in my own education because I hadn&rsquot noticed it before.  I want to fix that for other individuals," said Legleitner.

The Geek Speak lecture series, sponsored by the BHSU University Honors program, features academic discussion and topics not normally

discussed in the traditional classroom.  The goal of the weekly lectures is to expose students to diversity within the disciplines.

All Geek Speak lectures are free and open to the public.

For more information on Geek Speak, contact Dr. Courtney Huse-Wika, director of University Honors and assistant professor of English at BHSU, at or 605-642-6918.

Upcoming Geek Speak topics include:

Feb. 5: Dr. Adam Gaffey: "The Rhetoric of Equality:  Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and Arguments on Civil Rights"

Feb. 12: Dr. Nikki Dragone: "On Sherlock Holmes"

Feb. 19: Dr. Nick Wallerstein: "The Sound (and a Bit of Sense) of Poetry from Ancient Times to the Present"

Feb. 26: Dr. Tom Arnold: "Butchers, Buffoons, and 'Basterds': Nazis in Popular Culture"

March 5: Dr. David Cremean: "Breaking Bad and the Inexhaustibility of Extreme Methaphor"

March 19: Dr. William Cockrell: "On Gender and Gaming"

March 26: Dr. Chris Hahn and Professor Kelly Kirk: "On Black Politic Music of the 1970s"

April 9: Dr. Dan May: "&ltInsert Relevant Song Title Here&gt:  The Rise and Fall of American Alternative Rock"

April 16: Dr. Aris Karagiorgakis: "The Truth is in Here: Why 12 Million Americans Believe Lizard People Run the Country (and other "crazy" conspiracies)"

April 23: John Ginther: "On Game of Thrones"

April 30: Dr. Dave Berberick: "On the History of Heavy Metal"

May 5 and May 7: The Defense (Capstone defense for University Honors seniors)








           Dr. Rickie-Ann Legleitner, instructor of English and director of the Writing Center at Black Hills State University, will present a lecture on depictions of disability in the South Park animated sitcom as part of the Geek Speak lecture series.  The lecture will be held Jan. 29 at 4 p.m. in Jonas Hall 107 on the BHSU campus.    



South Park

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