School of Education Lecture Series: Professor Katherine Runswick-Cole (University of Sheffield)

A School of Education seminar
Date14 March 2023
Time13:00 to 14:30
PlaceSt Luke's Campus & ZOOM

"She's very difficult, you know": making (m)others mad in (special) education systems

The broad aim in this paper is to explore the ways in which (special) education systems across the global North construct (m)others of disabled children as ‘mad’. We use the term (m)others to pay attention to the continued impact of the gendered nature of care for (disabled) children at the level of the individual, but also to recognise gender as a social construct, and the many ways of being a (m)other. Drawing on our discussions with (m)others, based in Toronto, Canada, and in Rotherham, UK, we explore ‘madness’ as a mechanism of social control produced in special education systems. We pay close attention to what we describe as ‘intimate encounters’ between (m)others and practitioners that occur day-to-day in (special) education settings. The developing analysis is shaped by a sociology of gaslighting which, we argue, offers a useful framework for exposing the operations of power. We conclude by reflecting on what understandings of (m)others’ madness have been revealed and how they have the potential to (re)shape practice.


About the Speaker

Katherine Runswick-Cole is Professor of Education and Director of Research and Innovation in The School of Education at The University of Sheffield.  She is known for her work in critical disability studies and disabled children's childhood studies, as well as in inclusive education.  She is the mother of two grown up children, one of whom was labelled as having 'special educational needs' in school.


The speaker will present in person at the St Luke’s Campus (Lecture Theatre Baring Court BC114) and the lecture will be streamed live online.

Please register via Eventbrite to reserve a place.



Intended audienceUniversity Staff & Associates, PGCE, Masters, and Doctoral Students
Registration informationRegistration via Eventbrite (Link above)
OrganizerSchool of Education Events

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