Nonfiction Writing

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  • Lyn Wilder-Dean’s Master’s Thesis,
    Approved by the Graduate College of the University of Illinois at Chicago

    Mike Ervin, the self-pronounced "Smart Ass Cripple"
    Mike Ervin, self-pronounced “Smart Ass Cripple”

    This thesis, approximately 80 pages long, uses critical discourse analysis techniques to examine the themes present in 21 short pieces of writing that were published between 1981 and 2000 by Mike Ervin, a journalist, playwright and disability rights activist from Chicago. The thesis proposes that a naturalized belief undergirded each of seven values present in the pieces (the seven values are personal connection, interdependence, acceptance of human difference, human community, tolerance for lack of resolution, self-determination, and disability humor), and that these unspoken assumptions supported not only those values, but the interests of those within the movement that wielded power. The thesis also proposes that systemic inconsistencies between the values presented ideological complications for those who held the beliefs, but that these inconsistencies grew out of the system’s need to face variegated social challenges.

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