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Dr. Audra Jennings

Dr. Audra Jennings
- Director, Office of Scholar Development; Associate Professor, Honors Academy


Honors 300: Medicine and Society in Modern America 

Honors 300: Disability in America 

Honors 402: Capstone Experience/Thesis Proposal Writing


Dr. Audra Jennings directs the Office of Scholar Development and is an associate professor in the Honors Academy. Her 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.

Dr. Jennings is on sabbatical in 2019-20 with support from a National Science Foundation (NSF) Science, Technology, and Society Scholars Award. She is currently working on two book projects. The first, Rethinking the Disability Rights Movement, which she is 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, Dr. Jennings demonstrates 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.

Her 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). She is 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.

She received her Ph.D. in modern U.S. history from The Ohio State University (OSU) in 2008. Dr. Jennings has received grants and fellowships from the Harry S. Truman Library, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, University College at WKU, the Department of History at OSU, the Department of Economics at OSU, the Graduate School at OSU, and the Council of Graduate Students at OSU.

About Dr. Jennings

Dr. Jennings is a native of Sacramento, Kentucky. She began her career at Ohio State University, Newark, where she taught U.S. history and historical methods. In 2009, she joined the WKU Honors College. At WKU, she helps students develop strong national scholarship applications and teaches honors seminars on the history of disability, medicine, and modern U.S. history in the Honors Academy. Dr. Jennings has served on several committees for the DHA and as secretary for the organization for three terms. Additionally, she is a mentor for the American Historical Association Disability History Mentorship Program. Dr. Jennings received the 2013 Citizens Award from the Student Government Association at WKU for service to the university.

In her free time, she enjoys running, baking, and spending time with her dog Scout.

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 Last Modified 7/21/20