The rise of Mad Studies
At the end of term last spring, Jijian Voronka stood before 120 people at Ryerson University and clicked the play button for a short video made by a former student in her History of Madness course. Ms. Voronka watched the audience of mainly Ryerson staff and faculty as the student’s over-sized words scrolled across a video screen: “I only got four hours of sleep again” and “I’m not depressed.” The student had made the film about herself and titled it “A little slice-of-life video about madness and why a girl isn’t looking for the light at the end of the tunnel,” tracking herself on camera as she spiralled into exhaustion. When Ms. Voronka clicked the stop button at the end of the video, no one said a word.
Ms. Voronka, a sessional instructor in Ryerson’s school of disability studies and a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, had faced challenging audiences during events like this one; she was hoping this audience wouldn’t “pathologize” the student. The talk, offered with two colleagues, was called “Making Mad Studies,” and it was part of a series on diversity at Ryerson.