How I Spent My Sabbatical

Last December, I finished teaching and went on sabbatical. Tomorrow, I go back in the classroom again. I worked very hard, and these last nine months mark a major career transition for me. I suspect I produced well over 100,000 words, and it could be a LOT more if you count each blog post, talk, the book proposal, and more. I woke, I addressed the needs of my kids, then I wrote.

Today, I’m back in the classroom, and thrilled to be there. I’ll be running undergraduate research at Dominican University, teaching a class on the Silk Road, and teaching the senior history seminar.

Here’s what I produced:

BOOK:. I worked very hard developing a book proposal. I sold it to Beacon Press and am thrilled to be working with them on Disability Is Not A Crime. I hope to deliver the manuscript in a little less than a year. Had I sold it faster, then that’s all I would have done during my sabbatical. As it was …

MEDIEVAL/ACADEMIC:  I wrote and gave a medieval conference presentation based on my book, Sacred Plunder. I also gave a talk on shifting registers as a public medievalist, a version of which was published by postmedieval. I did some work on the Fourth Lateran Council, celebrating its 800th anniversary in November. I have a final thing to say about the Fourth Crusade and Fourth Lateran, which I shall deliver at a conference in Rome just after Thanksgiving. I’m also just finishing edits on a 5000ish-word book review on a sampling of recent higher education books.

BLOG: I wrote a couple hundred blog posts. Some of them were read by thousands of people. Some of them weren’t. Some were mostly just links and others rambling, disorganized, essays 2000-3000 words long. Thank you for reading all the thoughts and links and everything I share here.

GOOGLE: I was hired by Google to write and help edit their awesome site commemorating the 25th Anniversary of the ADA. Really proud of the biographies here. Also this project ate much of June and July. I traveled a bunch, met some outstanding people, read books about the disability rights movement I’ve been meaning to read for years, and learned a ton. The best projects are those where you both learn and teach.

ARTICLES: Mostly what I did, though, was chase my journalism. More interviews, more in-depth pieces, new venues, longer pieces. Disability writing on all sorts of topics, lots on state violence, TV criticism, and of course higher education. I’ve published 40 pieces or so since the beginning of the year. I wrote some hot takes, some TV criticism, but also many pieces that took me weeks of research and hours of interviews.  Those latter are harder to accomplish during the semester.

There’s going to be fewer articles in the next 12 months or so as I work on my book and go back into the classroom. Some though. Upcoming topics include: Disability and politics, Westworld and other sci-fi/fantasy shows for Vice, and some pieces on academics turned journalists.

In the meantime, here’s all the pieces from 2015 so far.

  1. A “Bechdel-Wallace” Test for the Disability Community (Al Jazeera America, 8/30/15)
  2. Westworld: The Robots Are Coming! (, 8/25/15)
  3. Stop Politicizing Down Syndrome and Abortion (, 8/24/15)
  4. The Surprisingly Simple Future of Assistive Technology (Al Jazeera America, 8/17/15)
  5. The Outrage of Handcuffing Children in Schools (, 8/5/15)
  6. I am a Working Dad (Father’s Day 2015) (Al Jazeera America, 6/21/15)
  7. US schools must stop excluding children with disabilities (Al Jazeera America, 6/16/15)
  8. The Controversies and Success of Season 5 of Game of Thrones (, 6/12/15)
  9. What Kids Learn When Adults Aren’t Inclusive (Washington Post, 6/11/15)
  10. Where Have All the Good Bad Guys Gone? (, 6/10/15)
  11. Speaking Out Against Autism Speaks (, 6/4/15)
  12. Inspiration Porn Disables the Disabled (Al Jazeera America, 6/3/15)
  13. Jon Snow: The Only Hero of Game of Thrones? (, 6/1/15)
  14. The World’s Reserves of Game of Thrones are Running Dangerously Low (, 5/28/15)
  15. Low Cost College Isn’t Enough (, 5/20/15)
  16. Mad Max: Fury Road’ Is the Feminist Action Flick You’ve Been Waiting For (, 5/13/15)
  17. Zoo Camp for All (Belt Magazine, 5/12/15)
  18. A Medievalist on Savage Love (Chronicle of Higher Education, 5/12/15)
  19. Save Academic Conferences! (, 5/6/2015)
  20. DC Super Hero Girls – My Daughter Wants Heroes That Look Like Her (, 5/1/2015)
  21. The Corrosive Cult of Compliance in Our Schools (Al Jazeera America, 4/22/15)
  22. Daredevil and Scenes of Ordinary Disability (, 4/20/15)
  23. “The Net is the Meat:” Bruce Holsinger’s Medieval Fiction (, 4/20/15)
  24. RFK Jr. owes a lot of people an apology for his comments on autism (, 4/16/15)
  25. The Telescoping History of Game of Thrones (, 4/14/15)
  26. Sheehan vs SF: A Chance to Reduce Police Killings of People with Disabilities (Al Jazeera America, 3/22/15)
  27. Bruce Rauner: Picking on Society’s Most Vulnerable (, 3/18/15)
  28. “Daddy, What’s Down Syndrome?” (Yahoo! Parenting, 3/17/15)
  29. Dear Student? How about Dear Provost? (Chronicle Vitae, 3/11/15)
  30. Why Write a Book? (Chronicle Vitae, 3/3/15)
  31. To assess LAPD shooting, look past the moment of gunfire. (, 3/2/15)
  32. Information, Not Inspiration: How to work against the fear of Down syndrome (, 2/18/15)
  33. From Grad School to the Atlantic (, 2/11/15)
  34. Conservatives want to rewrite the history of the Crusades (The Guardian, 2/7/15)
  35. Kristiana Coignard Did Not Have to Die (, 2/2/15)
  36. Airlines Break Too Many Wheelchairs – But We can Fix It (Al Jazeera America, 1/31/15)
  37. Associate Dean of What? (, 1/26/15)
  38. Anti-Choice Legislators Try to Force Wedge Between Reproductive, Disability Rights Activists(Reproductive Health Reality Check, 1/16/15)
  39. Who Will Teach All the Free Community College Students? (, 1/15/15)
  40. Harsh Critics in Public Spaces, Judging Only What They See (, 1/12/15)

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