City Research Online

Unlearning through Mad Studies: Disruptive pedagogical praxis

Snyder, S. N., Pitt, K. A., Shanouda, F. , Voronka, J., Reid, J. & Landry, D. (2019). Unlearning through Mad Studies: Disruptive pedagogical praxis. Curriculum Inquiry, 49(4), pp. 485-502. doi: 10.1080/03626784.2019.1664254


Medical discourse currently dominates as the defining framework for madness in educational praxis. Consequently, ideas rooted in a mental health/illness binary abound in higher learning, as both curriculum content and through institutional procedures that reinforce structures of normalcy. While madness, then, is included in university spaces, this inclusion proceeds in ways that continue to pathologize madness and disenfranchise mad people. This paper offers Mad Studies as an alternative entry point for engaging with madness in higher education, arguing that centring madness in pedagogical praxis has the potential to interrupt hegemonic ways of knowing, being, and learning. We illustrate how this disruption is facilitated by examining particular aspects of pedagogical praxis mobilized in Mad Studies, including building curriculum alongside mad community, centring madness in course design and student assessment, and the practice of mad positivity. Ultimately, this approach provides a metacurriculum of unlearning, challenging students to consider how their engagement with madness in the classroom, and beyond, has the potential to disrupt sanist systems of oppression and the normalcy they reconstitute.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Curriculum Inquiry on 09 October 2019, available online:
Publisher Keywords: Mad Studies, critical pedagogy, mental health, Disability Studies, higher education, metacurriculum
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences
SWORD Depositor:
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