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Dr. Jennifer Scuro: A Most Productive Year

February 12, 2018
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Informed by her identity as a feminist and philosopher, Dr. Jennifer Scuro, Associate Professor of Philosophy in the School of Arts and Sciences, has published numerous articles on subjects including gender and immigrant identity, globalization and the environment, feminist epistemology, and disability studies. But in 2017, Dr. Scuro published two books inspired by particularly personal life events: The Pregnancy ≠ Childbearing Project: A Phenomenology of Miscarriage and Addressing Ableism: Philosophical Questions via Disability Studies

In her first book, The Pregnancy [does not equal] Childbearing Project, which is part graphic novel and part philosophical analysis, Dr. Scuro narrates her philosophical and emotional responses to the phenomenon of pregnancy loss and the ways in which it differs from the phenomenon of childbearing – both of which she had experienced.

"After the birth of my first daughter, I went through a difficult pregnancy loss, having to terminate a wanted pregnancy because of life-threatening medical complications," she said. "I immediately began to philosophize about it."

Just months after that loss, she went to a conference to present on the topic of miscarriage. 

"I spoke so abstractly about it. I had tucked it away. Afterward, when I tried to publish the paper, there was no place for it. Each time I sent it out for review, I got back comments asking to revise and resubmit, because it was too personal. And it was, so I had to put it away."

When she later observed two SAS students working on a graphic novel, Dr. Scuro, who has a BFA degree, decided to try her hand at a different approach.

"I went home and all memory that I had of the experiences – basically mental snapshots – began to unload one-by-one. I captured a lot of emotive, affective content and suddenly realized not only how wounded I was, but how hard it was to get myself back into the world. It was a difficult story to navigate, but through the graphic novel narrative, I took ownership of it, and that was very healing."

Tracework from Dr. Scuro’s original sketchbook, created as she prepared them for publication, are now part of a group traveling exhibit, Cradling Creativity: The ART of Infertility. First shown at the Old City Jewish Center in Philadelphia, the exhibit will next travel to Salt Lake City, Utah.  Two of her pieces currently are on exhibit at the University of Wisconsin OshKosh.

In part inspired by the personal experience of being the parent of an autistic child, later that year, Dr. Scuro published her second book Addressing Ableism: Philosophical Questions via Disability Studies, an academic piece addressing the scale and scope of ableism – the institutional and intergenerational discrimination or prejudice against individuals with disabilities, including the fears and anxieties able-bodied people have about disability.

In each chapter, Dr. Scuro poses questions that provide "tools of navigation to point out how effectively ableism, instead of being challenged as a harmful bias, has been deflected or trivialized as if permissible.  Ableism continues to be an acceptable harm even when we say someone is 'crazy' or 'stupid.'"

"Several years ago, we did a