2019 Recipients

First place

Name: Patricia Hoi Ling Ki

Institution: York University

Email: ki.patricia@gmail.com


Patricia Ki is a doctoral student in the Critical Disability Studies program at York University in Toronto, ON. She also has training in social work and art therapy, and facilitates expressive arts programs in various community-based agencies. Her research interest stems from lived experiences as a former psychiatric patient and mental health worker, and focuses on the theorizations of trauma and emotions, feminist ethics of care, and collective arts practices.

Paper Title

Defiant Bodies and Subversive Rage: A Gendered History of Borderline Personality Disorder


Borderline personality disorder (BPD) first appeared in the Diagnostic Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) in 1980 (Becker, 1997). Despite the supposed gender neutrality of the DSM, the over-representation of women diagnosed with BPD and the clear connections between its diagnostic criteria and existing gender norms have not been overlooked (Appignanesi, 2008; Becker, 1997; Ussher, 2011; Wirth-Cauchon, 2001). This presentation seeks to extend a critical feminist analysis of how the diagnostic category of BPD is historically produced through discourses of gender and psychiatry, and how these historical and discursive contexts shape contemporary theories, clinical practices, and individuals’ experiences of BPD. It will review literature that traces a genealogy of BPD from the 16th century witch hunts, through the conceptualizations of hysteria and moral insanity, to psychoanalytic models of borderline in the DSM’s historical development. Grounded in critical disability studies, it will examine the gender norms and relations of power that enable the social control and exploitation of those who are deemed disabled, mad, and unproductive in a capitalist economy through psychiatric labelling and interventions. This presentation aims to illustrate how the psychiatric category of BPD functions as an apparatus of disciplinary power that is constructed and continually modified to advance a hetero-patriarchal and capitalist social order. Specifically, it exposes the processes through which such dominance is maintained through the pathologization of women’s bodies and emotions, with the hope that it may help in opening up different theories and more liberating trajectories in the ongoing story of women and madness. 


Borderline Personality Disorder, mad studies, gender, critical feminist theories, psychiatry

Second place

Name: Nancy Marshall

Institution: York University

Email: nancymar@edu.yorku.ca


I am a Child and Youth Care (CYC) Practitioner with both a BA and MA in CYC from Ryerson University, Toronto. After ten years’ experience supporting students of all ages in special education programs, I have developed a passion for disability rights in Education. I am currently completing my doctoral studies in Education at York University with a focus on autism inclusion in public education. I love cats and Marvel comics.

Paper title

Gifted, Strange, and Insane:  A Critical Analysis of Institutional Representations of Disability in Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters and Arkham Asylum


Comic books have become a rich source of reflexive analysis in disability studies worldwide. As such, this paper explores themes of oppression, activism, inclusion, and the evolving representations (or misrepresentations) of disability through the lenses of medical and social models of disability within two comic book powerhouses, Marvel and DC. More specifically, this paper examines the purposes of two famous institutions, Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters and Arkham Asylum. Institutional representations of disability in comics are scarcely discussed in disability scholarship. This paper aims to fill that gap with critical reflection on the values of empowerment and humanity within institutions that aim to treat, control and educate people with disabilities. The impact on audiences and disability scholars, along with the responsibility of media producers, are discussed.


disability, comic book media, institutional representations, medical model, social model

Third place

Name: Tamsyn Riddle

Institution: University of Toronto

Paper title

The Responsible Rape Victim: Institutionalized Ableism and University Sexual Violence Policy