Guest lecturer to discuss race, disability and gender in U.S. history

The Fourth Annual Guest Lecture for the Postdoctoral Fellowship in African American Studies will be held April 6 from 12:30 to 2 p.m. in Mather House 100. Susan Burch, associate professor of American Studies and director of the Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity at Middlebury College, will give a brown-bag lunch talk “Rememoring the Past: Race, Disability, and Gender in U.S. History.”

In this free, public talk, Burch will draw on the life story of Junius Wilson (1908-2001), an African American deaf man who grew up in the Jim Crow South and attended a segregated deaf school. At age 16, he was falsely accused of a crime, and when his
deafness was misjudged as “lunacy,” he was incarcerated in an institution for the insane, where he was surgically castrated and held for 76 years, including six in the criminal insane ward. Wilson was never declared insane by a medical professional or found guilty of any criminal charges.

Through this work, Burch explores entangled issues of race, gender, deaf identity, institutionalization, eugenics and civil rights.

Contact Kalli Vimr at or 368.2625 for additional information.