Dr. Audra Jennings
Director of the Office of Scholar Development and Associate Professor in the Honors Academy
My Role in the Honors College
As Director of the Office of Scholar Development, I work with students who are applying for national and international scholarships, graduate and professional school, and national internships and research opportunities. I also teach colloquia that examine U.S. social development through the lenses of disability and medicine, politics and activism, labor and industry, and citizenship and the welfare state.
I earned a Ph.D. in modern U.S. history, with emphases in disability, labor, and women’s history, from Ohio State University in 2008.
Professionally Published Work
My first book, Out of the Horrors of War: Disability Politics in World War II America (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016), analyzes the ways in which the U.S. state at mid-century defined citizenship around notions of ablebodiedness by examining the American Federation of the Physically Handicapped, a national, cross-disability social movement organization that emerged during the war.
I am currently working on two book projects. The first, Rethinking the Disability Rights Movement, which I am writing with historian Felicia Kornbluh, is under contract with Routledge. It extends the temporal and substantive boundaries of the movement and contextualizes it as part of a larger matrix of movements for social change. The second book project, To Find, Count, and Cure: Disabled Children and the New Deal State, examines services for disabled children, funded by the Social Security Act of 1935 and administered by the U.S. Children’s Bureau. The program served more than one out of every 300 American children by 1948, providing a wide range of medical services. In this project, I demonstrate how the state’s efforts to “discover,” “enumerate,” and treat disabled children reflected a vision of the citizen as able-bodied and how disability—informed by gender, race, class, and sexuality—shaped the New Deal state more broadly, defining who belonged and who should be excluded.
My articles appear in Disability Histories, eds. Susan Burch and Michael Rembis (Urbana-Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2014), The Politics of Veterans Policy: Federal Policies and Veterans in the Modern US, ed. Stephen R. Ortiz (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2012), and Labor: Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas (November 2007). I am the recipient of the 2013 Disability History Association (DHA) Outstanding Article Award and the James Madison Prize from the Society for History in the Federal Government for her article "‘An Emblem of Distinction': The Politics of Disability Entitlement, 1940-1950," which appeared in The Politics of Veterans Policy.
Hobbies and Interests
When not teaching, editing, advising, or writing, I enjoy running and spending time with my dog Scout.
What Brought Me to the HC
I grew up in western Kentucky, and I remember how profoundly college changed my life. In a sense, it made my world much bigger and richer. I was drawn to the Honors College at WKU and the Office of Scholar Development because of the opportunity to help make that experience a reality for many others.
A Little About Myself
I love to try new recipes and bake cupcakes. My dog Scout and I are always working on expanding his range of tricks.
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