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Academic Ableism
Disability and Higher Education
Jay Timothy Dolmage
University of Michigan Press, 2017
Academic Ableism brings together disability studies and institutional critique to recognize the ways that disability is composed in and by higher education, and rewrites the spaces, times, and economies of disability in higher education to place disability front and center. For too long, argues Jay Timothy Dolmage, disability has been constructed as the antithesis of higher education, often positioned as a distraction, a drain, a problem to be solved. The ethic of higher education encourages students and teachers alike to accentuate ability, valorize perfection, and stigmatize anything that hints at intellectual, mental, or physical weakness, even as we gesture toward the value of diversity and innovation. Examining everything from campus accommodation processes, to architecture, to popular films about college life, Dolmage argues that disability is central to higher education, and that building more inclusive schools allows better education for all.
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Academic Ableism
Disability and Higher Education
Jay Timothy Dolmage
University of Michigan Press, 2017
Academic Ableism brings together disability studies and institutional critique to recognize the ways that disability is composed in and by higher education, and rewrites the spaces, times, and economies of disability in higher education to place disability front and center. For too long, argues Jay Timothy Dolmage, disability has been constructed as the antithesis of higher education, often positioned as a distraction, a drain, a problem to be solved. The ethic of higher education encourages students and teachers alike to accentuate ability, valorize perfection, and stigmatize anything that hints at intellectual, mental, or physical weakness, even as we gesture toward the value of diversity and innovation. Examining everything from campus accommodation processes, to architecture, to popular films about college life, Dolmage argues that disability is central to higher education, and that building more inclusive schools allows better education for all.
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Accessible Citizenships
Disability, Nation, and the Cultural Politics of Greater Mexico
Julie Avril Minich
Temple University Press, 2013
Accessible Citizenships examines Chicana/o cultural representations that conceptualize political community through images of disability. Working against the assumption that disability is a metaphor for social decay or political crisis, Julie Avril Minich analyzes literature, film, and visual art post-1980 in which representations of non-normative bodies work to expand our understanding of what it means to belong to a political community.
 
Minich shows how queer writers like Arturo Islas and Cherríe Moraga have reconceptualized Chicano nationalism through disability images. She further addresses how the U.S.-Mexico border and disabled bodies restrict freedom and movement. Finally, she confronts the changing role of the nation-state in the face of neoliberalism as depicted in novels by Ana Castillo and Cecile Pineda. 
 
Accessible Citizenships illustrates how these works gesture towards less exclusionary forms of citizenship and nationalism. Minich boldly argues that the corporeal images used to depict national belonging have important consequences for how the rights and benefits of citizenship are understood and distributed.

A volume in the American Literatures Initiative
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Allies and Obstacles
Disability Activism and Parents of Children with Disabilities
Allison C. Carey, Pamela Block, and Richard K. Scotch
Temple University Press, 2020

Parents of children with disabilities often situate their activism as a means of improving the world for their child. However, some disabled activists perceive parental activism as working against the independence and dignity of people with disabilities. This thorny relationship is at the heart of the groundbreaking Allies and Obstacles.

The authors chronicle parents’ path-breaking advocacy in arenas such as the right to education and to liberty via deinstitutionalization as well as how they engaged in legal and political advocacy. Allies and Obstacles provides a macro analysis of parent activism using a social movement perspective to reveal and analyze the complex—and often tense—relationship of parents to disability rights organizations and activism. 

The authors look at organizational and individual narratives using four case studies that focus on intellectual disability, psychiatric diagnoses, autism, and a broad range of physical disabilities including cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy. These cases explore the specific ways in which activism developed among parents and people with disabilities, as well as the points of alliance and the key points of contestation. Ultimately, Allies and Obstacles develops new insights into disability activism, policy, and the family.

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The Architecture of Disability
Buildings, Cities, and Landscapes beyond Access
David Gissen
University of Minnesota Press, 2022

A radical critique of architecture that places disability at the heart of the built environment

Disability critiques of architecture usually emphasize the need for modification and increased access, but The Architecture of Disability calls for a radical reorientation of this perspective by situating experiences of impairment as a new foundation for the built environment. With its provocative proposal for “the construction of disability,” this book fundamentally reconsiders how we conceive of and experience disability in our world.

Stressing the connection between architectural form and the capacities of the human body, David Gissen demonstrates how disability haunts the history and practice of architecture. Examining various historic sites, landscape designs, and urban spaces, he deconstructs the prevailing functionalist approach to accommodating disabled people in architecture and instead asserts that physical capacity is essential to the conception of all designed space.

By recontextualizing the history of architecture through the discourse of disability, The Architecture of Disability presents a unique challenge to current modes of architectural practice, theory, and education. Envisioning an architectural design that fully integrates disabled persons into its production, it advocates for looking beyond traditional notions of accessibility and shows how certain incapacities can offer us the means to positively reimagine the roots of architecture.

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Barriers and Belonging
Personal Narratives of Disability
Michelle Jarman
Temple University Press, 2017

What is the direct impact that disability studies has on the lives of disabled people today? The editors and contributors to this essential anthology, Barriers and Belonging, provide thirty-seven personal narratives thatexplore what it means to be disabled and why the field of disability studies matters. 

The editors frame the volume by introducing foundational themes of disability studies. They provide a context of how institutions—including the family, schools, government, and disability peer organizations—shape and transform ideas about disability. They explore how disability informs personal identity, interpersonal and community relationships, and political commitments. In addition, there are heartfelt reflections on living with mobility disabilities, blindness, deafness, pain, autism, psychological disabilities, and other issues. Other essays articulate activist and pride orientations toward disability, demonstrating the importance of reframing traditional narratives of sorrow and medicalization. 

The critical, self-reflective essays in Barriers and Belonging provide unique insights into the range and complexity of disability experience.

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The Biopolitics of Disability
Neoliberalism, Ablenationalism, and Peripheral Embodiment
David T. Mitchell with Sharon L. Snyder
University of Michigan Press, 2015
In the neoliberal era, when human worth is measured by its relative utility within global consumer culture, selected disabled people have been able to gain entrance into late capitalist culture. The Biopolitics of Disability terms this phenomenon “ablenationalism” and asserts that “inclusion” becomes meaningful only if disability is recognized as providing modes of living that are alternatives to governing norms of productivity and independence. Thus, the book pushes beyond questions of impairment to explore how disability subjectivities create new forms of embodied knowledge and collective consciousness. The focus is on the emergence of new crip/queer subjectivities at work in disability arts, disability studies pedagogy, independent and mainstream disability cinema (e.g., Midnight Cowboy), internet-based medical user groups, anti-normative novels of embodiment (e.g., Richard Powers’s The Echo-Maker) and, finally, the labor of living in “non-productive” bodies within late capitalism.
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Blackness and Disability
Critical Examinations and Cultural Interventions
Christopher M. Bell
Michigan State University Press, 2012

Disability Studies diverge from the medical model of disability (which argues that disabled subjects can and should be “fixed”) to view disability as socially constructed, much in the same way other identities are. The work of reading black and disabled bodies is not only recovery work, but work that requires a willingness to deconstruct the systems that would keep those bodies in separate spheres. This pivotal volume uncovers the misrepresentations of black disabled bodies and demonstrates how those bodies transform systems and culture. Drawing on key themes in Disability Studies and African American Studies, these collected essays complement one another in interesting and dynamic ways, to forge connections across genres and chronotopes, an invitation to keep blackness and disability in conversation. With an analysis of disability as a result of war, studies of cognitive impairment and slavery in fiction, representations of slavery and violence in photography, deconstructions of illness (cancer and AIDS) narratives, comparative analyses of black and Latina/o and black and African subjects, analysis of treatments of disability in hip-hop, and commentary on disability, blackness, and war, this volume shows that the historical lines of demarcation in this field are permeable and should be challenged.

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Blind in Early Modern Japan
Disability, Medicine, and Identity
Wei Yu Wayne Tan
University of Michigan Press, 2022
While the loss of sight—whether in early modern Japan or now—may be understood as a disability, blind people in the Tokugawa period (1600–1868) could thrive because of disability. The blind of the era were prominent across a wide range of professions, and through a strong guild structure were able to exert contractual monopolies over certain trades. Blind in Early Modern Japan illustrates the breadth and depth of those occupations, the power and respect that accrued to the guild members, and the lasting legacy of the Tokugawa guilds into the current moment.

The book illustrates why disability must be assessed within a particular society’s social, political, and medical context, and also the importance of bringing medical history into conversation with cultural history. A Euro-American-centric disability studies perspective that focuses on disability and oppression, the author contends, risks overlooking the unique situation in a non-Western society like Japan in which disability was constructed to enhance blind people’s power. He explores what it meant to be blind in Japan at that time, and what it says about current frameworks for understanding disability. 
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Bodies in Commotion
Disability and Performance
Edited by Carrie Sandahl and Philip Auslander
University of Michigan Press, 2005
"A testament to the synergy of two evolving fields. From the study of staged performances to examinations of the performing body in everyday life, this book demonstrates the enormous profitability of moving beyond disability as metaphor. . . . It's a lesson that many of our cultural institutions desperately need to learn."
-Martin F. Norden, University of Massachusetts-Amherst

This groundbreaking collection imagines disabled bodies as "bodies in commotion"-bodies that dance across artistic and discursive boundaries, challenging our understanding of both disability and performance. In the book's essays, leading critics and artists explore topics that range from theater and dance to multi-media performance art, agit-prop, American Sign Language theater, and wheelchair sports. Bodies in Commotion is the first collection to consider the mutually interpretive qualities of these two emerging fields, producing a dynamic new resource for artists, activists, and scholars.
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The Body and Physical Difference
Discourses of Disability
David T. Mitchell and Sharon L. Snyder, Editors
University of Michigan Press, 1997
For years the subject of human disability has engaged those in the biological, social and cognitive sciences, while at the same time, it has been curiously neglected within the humanities. The Body and Physical Difference seeks to introduce the field of disability studies into the humanities by exploring the fantasies and fictions that have crystallized around conceptions of physical and cognitive difference. Based on the premise that the significance of disabilities in culture and the arts has been culturally vexed as well as historically erased, the collection probes our society's pathological investment in human variability and "aberrancy." The contributors demonstrate how definitions of disability underpin fundamental concepts such as normalcy, health, bodily integrity, individuality, citizenship, and morality--all terms that define the very essence of what it means to be human.
The book provides a provocative range of topics and perspectives: the absence of physical "otherness" in Ancient Greece, the depiction of the female invalid in Victorian literature, the production of tragic innocence in British and American telethons, the reconstruction of Civil War amputees, and disability as the aesthetic basis for definitions of expendable life within the modern eugenics movement. With this new, secure anchoring in the humanities, disability studies now emerges as a significant strain in contemporary theories of identity and social marginality.
Moving beyond the oversimplication that disabled people are marginalized and made invisible by able-ist assumptions and practices, the contributors demonstrate that representation is founded upon the perpetual exhibition of human anomalies. In this sense, all art can be said to migrate toward the "freakish" and the "grotesque." Such a project paradoxically makes disability the exception and the rule of the desire to represent that which has been traditionally out-of-bounds in polite discourse.
The Body and Physical Difference has relevance across a wide range of academic specialties such as cultural studies, the sociology of medicine, history, literature and medicine, the allied health professions, rehabilitation, aesthetics, philosophical discourses of the body, literary and film studies, and narrative theory.
David T. Mitchell is Assistant Professor of English, Northern Michigan University. Sharon L. Snyder teaches film and literature at Northern Michigan University.
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Cheap Talk
Disability and the Politics of Communication
Joshua St. Pierre
University of Michigan Press, 2022
In Cheap Talk: Disability and the Politics of Communication, Joshua St. Pierre flips the script on communication disability, positioning the unruly, disabled speaker at the center of analysis to challenge the belief that more communication is unquestionably good. Working with Gilles Deleuze’s suggestion that “[w]e don’t suffer these days from any lack of communication, but rather from all the forces making us say things when we’ve nothing much to say,” St. Pierre brings together the unlikely trio of the dysfluent speaker, the talking head, and the troll to show how speech is made cheap—and produced and repaired within human bodies—to meet the inhuman needs of capital. The book explores how technologies, like social media and the field of speech-language pathology, create smooth sites of contact that are exclusionary for disabled speakers and looks to the political possibilities of disabled voices to “de-face” the power of speech now entwined with capital.
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Concerto for the Left Hand
Disability and the Defamiliar Body
Michael Davidson
University of Michigan Press, 2010

"Professor Davidson---an accomplished literary critic---offers a focused and balanced analysis of poetry, film, and the arts honed with his excellent knowledge of the latest advances in disability studies. He is brilliant at reading texts in a sophisticated and aesthetically pleasurable way, making Concerto for the Left Hand one of the smartest books to date in disability studies."
---Lennard Davis, University of Illinois, Chicago

"Moving elegantly among social theorists and cultural texts, Davidson exemplifies and propels an ethical-aesthetic model for criticism. Davidson asks continuously and with a committed intensity 'where a disability ends and the social order begins' . . .  this book brings the study of poetry and poetics into the twenty-first century."
---Rachel Blau DuPlessis, Temple University

Concerto for the Left Hand is at the cutting edge of the expanding field of disability studies, offering a wide range of essays that investigate the impact of disability across various art forms---including literature, performance, photography, and film. Rather than simply focusing on the ways in which disabled persons are portrayed, Michael Davidson explores how the experience of disability shapes the work of artists and why disability serves as a vital lens through which to interpret modern culture. Covering an eclectic range of topics---from the phantom missing limb in film noir to the poetry of American Sign Language---this collection delivers a unique and engaging assessment of the interplay between disability and aesthetics.

Written in a fluid, accessible style, Concerto for the Left Hand will appeal to both specialists and general audiences. With its interdisciplinary approach, this book should appeal not only to scholars of disability studies but to all those working in minority art, deaf studies, visual culture, and modernism.

Michael Davidson is Professor of American Literature at the University of California, San Diego. His other books include Guys Like Us: Citing Masculinity in Cold War Poetics and Ghostlier Demarcations: Modern Poetry and the Material World.

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Crip Colony
Mestizaje, US Imperialism, and the Queer Politics of Disability in the Philippines
Sony Coráñez Bolton
Duke University Press, 2023
In Crip Colony, Sony Coráñez Bolton examines the racial politics of disability, mestizaje, and sexuality in the Philippines. Drawing on literature, poetry, colonial records, political essays, travel narratives, and visual culture, Coráñez Bolton traces how disability politics colluded with notions of Philippine mestizaje. He demonstrates that Filipino mestizo writers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries used mestizaje as a racial ideology of ability that marked Indigenous inhabitants of the Philippines as lacking in civilization and in need of uplift and rehabilitation. Heteronormative, able-bodied, and able-minded mixed-race Filipinos offered a model and path for assimilation into the US empire. In this way, mestizaje allowed for supposedly superior mixed-race subjects to govern the archipelago in collusion with American imperialism. By bringing disability studies together with studies of colonialism and queer-of-color critique, Coráñez Bolton extends theorizations of mestizaje beyond the United States and Latin America while considering how Filipinx and Filipinx American thought fundamentally enhances understandings of the colonial body and the racial histories of disability.
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Cultural Locations of Disability
Sharon L. Snyder and David T. Mitchell
University of Chicago Press, 2006
In Cultural Locations of Disability, Sharon L. Snyder and David T. Mitchell trace how disabled people came to be viewed as biologically deviant. The eugenics era pioneered techniques that managed "defectives" through the application of therapies, invasive case histories, and acute surveillance techniques, turning disabled persons into subjects for a readily available research pool. In its pursuit of normalization, eugenics implemented disability regulations that included charity systems, marriage laws, sterilization, institutionalization, and even extermination. Enacted in enclosed disability locations, these practices ultimately resulted in expectations of segregation from the mainstream, leaving today's disability politics to focus on reintegration, visibility, inclusion, and the right of meaningful public participation.

Snyder and Mitchell reveal cracks in the social production of human variation as aberrancy. From our modern obsessions with tidiness and cleanliness to our desire to attain perfect bodies, notions of disabilities as examples of human insufficiency proliferate. These disability practices infuse more general modes of social obedience at work today. Consequently, this important study explains how disabled people are instrumental to charting the passage from a disciplinary society to one based upon regulation of the self.
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Dance, Disability and Law
InVisible Difference
Edited by Sarah Whatley, Charlotte Waelde, Shawn Harmon, Abbe Brown, Karen Wood, and Hetty Blades
Intellect Books, 2018
This collection is the first book to focus on the intersection of dance, disability, and the law. Bringing together a range of writers from different disciplines, it considers the question of how we value, validate, and speak about diversity in performance practice, with a specific focus on the experience of differently-abled dance artists within the changing world of the arts in the United Kingdom.  Contributors address the legal frameworks that support or inhibit the work of disabled dancers and explore factors that affect their full participation, including those related to policy, arts funding, dance criticism, and audience reception.
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Deaf People in the Criminal Justice System
Selected Topics on Advocacy, Incarceration, and Social Justice
Debra Guthmann
Gallaudet University Press, 2021
The legal system is complex, and without appropriate access, many injustices can occur. Deaf people in the criminal justice system are routinely denied sign language interpreters, videophone access, and other accommodations at each stage of the legal process. The marginalization of deaf people in the criminal justice system is further exacerbated by the lack of advocates who are qualified to work with this population. Deaf People in the Criminal Justice System: Selected Topics on Advocacy, Incarceration, and Social Justice is the first book to illuminate the challenges faced by deaf people when they are arrested, incarcerated, or navigating the court system. This volume brings interdisciplinary contributors together to shed light on both the problems and solutions for deaf people in these circumstances.
 
       The contributors address issues such as accessibility needs; gaps regarding data collection and the need for more research; additional training for attorneys, court personnel, and prison staff; the need for more qualified sign language interpreters, including Certified Deaf Interpreters who provide services in court, prison, and juvenile facilities; substance use disorders; the school to prison nexus; and the need for advocacy. Students in training programs, researchers, attorneys, mental health professionals, sign language interpreters, family members, and advocates will be empowered by this much-needed resource to improve the experiences and outcomes for deaf people in the criminal justice system.
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Defectives in the Land
Disability and Immigration in the Age of Eugenics
Douglas C. Baynton
University of Chicago Press, 2016
Immigration history has largely focused on the restriction of immigrants by race and ethnicity, overlooking disability as a crucial factor in the crafting of the image of the  “undesirable immigrant.” Defectives in the Land, Douglas C. Baynton’s groundbreaking new look at immigration and disability, aims to change this.

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Baynton explains, immigration restriction in the United States was primarily intended to keep people with disabilities—known as “defectives”—out of the country. The list of those included is long: the deaf, blind, epileptic, and mobility impaired; people with curved spines, hernias, flat or club feet, missing limbs, and short limbs; those unusually short or tall; people with intellectual or psychiatric disabilities; intersexuals; men of “poor physique” and men diagnosed with “feminism.” Not only were disabled individuals excluded, but particular races and nationalities were also identified as undesirable based on their supposed susceptibility to mental, moral, and physical defects.

In this transformative book, Baynton argues that early immigration laws were a cohesive whole—a decades-long effort to find an effective method of excluding people considered to be defective. This effort was one aspect of a national culture that was increasingly fixated on competition and efficiency, anxious about physical appearance and difference, and haunted by a fear of hereditary defect and the degeneration of the American race.
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Diaphanous Bodies
Ability, Disability, and Modernist Irish Literature
Jeremy Colangelo
University of Michigan Press, 2021

Diaphanous Bodies: Ability, Disability, and Modernist Irish Literature examines ability, as a category of embodiment and embodied experience, and in the process opens up a new area of inquiry in the growing field of literary disability studies. It argues that the construction of ability arises through a process of exclusion and forgetting, in which the depiction of sensory information and epistemological judgment subtly (or sometimes un-subtly) elide the fact of embodied subjectivity. The result is what Colangelo calls “the myth of the diaphanous abled body,” a fiction that holds that an abled body is one which does not participate in or situate experience.  The diaphanous abled body underwrites the myth that abled and disabled constitute two distinct categories of being rather than points on a constantly shifting continuum.

In any system of marginalization, the dominant identity always sets itself up as epistemologically and experientially superior to whichever group it separates itself from. Indeed, the norm is always most powerful when it is understood as an empty category or a view from nowhere. Diaphanous Bodies explores the phantom body that underwrites the artificial dichotomy between abled and disabled upon which the representation of embodied experience depends.

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Disability and Fandom
Katherine Anderson Howell
University of Iowa Press, 2024
Disability and Fandom discusses the accessibility and welcome of fan spaces, and it explores how disability functions in fan practices. In a readable, personal style, Katherine Anderson Howell shows the overlaps between disability studies and fan studies, analyzing how fandom operates in physical and digital fan spaces. She argues that it is time for fan studies to let go of the idea of fans in general as marginalized or as powerless groups.
         Anderson Howell examines how key fandom platforms—including cons, Tumblr, Archive of Our Own, Instagram, Reddit, and TikTok—set up user interfaces that may mask their true values, potentially decreasing access and creating a system by which disability remains stigmatized. Readers will find case studies of fan fiction, disability influencers, anti-fans, trolls, and celebrities. The argument is made for incorporating disability into the analytical tools of fandom so that we may begin with better tools and better questions.
 
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Disability and History, Volume 2006
Teresa Meade and David Serlin, eds.
Duke University Press
The burgeoning field of disability studies has emerged as one of the most innovative and transdisciplinary areas of scholarship in recent years. This special issue of Radical History Review combines disability studies with radical history approaches, demonstrating how disability studies cuts across regional histories as well as familiar disciplinary categories. Disability and History also discloses how the ways in which we define “disability” may expose biases and limitations of a given historical moment rather than a universal truth.

Drawing on archival research and other primary materials, as well as on methods from labor history, ethnic studies, performance studies, and political biography, this special issue explores how historical forces and cultural contexts have produced disability as a constantly shifting and socially constructed concept. One essay examines how Western definitions of disability imposed during colonial rule shaped Botswanan perceptions of disability. Another looks at labor activism among blind workers in Northern Ireland in the 1930s; a third essay, drawing on previously untranslated political texts by disabled writers and activists from the Weimar era, dispels the simplistic assessment of the disabled as complacent in the face of the Nazis’ rise to power. Other essays interpret U.S. radical Randolph Bourne as a philosopher of disability politics and chronicle the emergence of a disabled feminist theater practice in the 1970s and 1980s.

Contributors. Diane F. Britton, Susan Burch, Sarah E. Chinn, R. A. R. Edwards, Barbara Floyd, David Gissen, Kim Hewitt, J. Douglass Klein, Seth Koven, R. J. Lambrose, Victoria Ann Lewis, Julie Livingston, Paul K. Longmore, Robert McRuer, Teresa Meade, Paul Steven Miller, Natalia Molina, Patricia A. Murphy, Máirtín Ó Catháin, Carol Poore, Geoffrey Reaume, David Serlin, Katherine Sherwood, Ian Sutherland, Geoffrey Swan, Everett Zhang

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Disability and Passing
Blurring the Lines of Identity
Jeffrey A Brune
Temple University Press, 2013

Passing—an act usually associated with disguising race—also relates to disability. Whether a person classified as mentally ill struggles to suppress aberrant behavior to appear "normal" or a person falsely claims a disability to gain some advantage, passing is a pervasive and much discussed phenomenon. Nevertheless, Disability and Passing is the first anthology to examine this issue. 

The editors and contributors to this volume explore the intersections of disability, race, gender, and sexuality as these various aspects of identity influence each other and make identity fluid.  They argue that the line between disability and normality is blurred, discussing disability as an individual identity and as a social category. And they discuss the role of stigma in decisions about whether or not to pass.

Focusing on the United States from the nineteenth century to the present, the essays in Disability and Passing speak to the complexity of individual decisions about passing and open the conversation for broader discussion. 

Contributors include:  Dea Boster, Allison Carey, Peta Cox, Kristen Harmon, David Linton, Michael Rembis, and the editors.

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Disability and Social Justice in Kenya
Scholars, Policymakers, and Activists in Conversation
Nina Berman and Rebecca Monteleone, Editors
University of Michigan Press, 2022

Disability in Africa has received significant attention as a dimension of global development and humanitarian initiatives. Little international attention is given, however, to the ways in which disability is discussed and addressed in specific countries in Africa. Little is known also about the ways in which persons with disabilities have advocated for themselves over the past one hundred years and how their needs were or were not met in locations across the continent. Kenya has been on the forefront of disability activism and disability rights since the middle of the twentieth century. The country was among the first African states to create a legal framework addressing the rights of persons with disabilities, namely the Persons with Disabilities Act of 2003. Kenya, however, has a much longer history of institutions and organizations that are dedicated to addressing the specific needs of persons with disabilities, and substantial developments have occurred since the introduction of the legal framework in 2003.

Disability and Social Justice in Kenya: Scholars, Policymakers, and Activists in Conversation is the first interdisciplinary and multivocal study of its kind to review achievements and challenges related to the situation of persons with disabilities in Kenya today, in light of the country’s longer history of disability and the wide range of local practices and institutions. It brings together scholars, activists, and policymakers who comment on topics including education, the role of activism, the legal framework, culture, the impact of the media, and the importance of families and the community.
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Disability and the Media
Prescriptions for Change
Charles A. Riley
University Press of New England, 2005
In the past decade, the mass media discovered disability. Spurred by the box-office appeal of superstars such as the late Christopher Reeve, Michael J. Fox, Stephen Hawking, and others, and given momentum by the success of Oscar-winning movies, popular television shows, best-selling books, and profitable websites, major media corporations have reversed their earlier course of hiding disability, bringing it instead to center stage. Yet depictions of disability have remained largely unchanged since the 1920s. Focusing almost exclusively on the medical aspect of injury or illness, the disability profile in fact and fiction leads inevitably to an inspiring moment of “overcoming.” According to Riley, this cliché plays well with a general audience, but such narratives, driven by prejudice and pity, highlight the importance of “fixing” the disability and rendering the “sufferer” as normal as possible. These stories are deeply offensive to persons with disabilities. Equally important, misguided coverage has adverse effects on crucial aspects of public policy, such as employment, social services, and health care. Powerful and influential, the media is complicit in this distortion of disability issues that has proven to be a factor in the economic and social repression of one in five Americans. Newspapers and magazines continue to consign disability stories to the “back of the book” health or human-interest sections, using offensive language that has long been proscribed by activists. Filmmakers compound the problem by featuring angry misfits or poignant heroes of melodramas that pair love and redemption. Publishers churn out self-help titles and memoirs that milk the disability theme for pathos. As Riley points out, all branches of the media are guilty of the same crude distillation of the story to serve their own, usually fiscal, ends. Riley’s lively inside investigation illuminates the extent of the problem while pinpointing how writers, editors, directors, producers, filmmakers, advertisers and the executives who give their marching orders go wrong, or occasionally get it right. Through a close analysis of the technical means of representation, in conjunction with the commentary of leading voices in the disability community, Riley guides future coverage to a more fair and accurate way of putting the disability story on screen or paper. He argues that with the “discovery” by Madison Avenue that the disabled community is a major consumer niche, the economic rationale for more sophisticated coverage is at hand. It is time, says Riley, to cut through the accumulated stereotypes and find an adequate vocabulary that will finally represent the disability community in all its vibrant and fascinating diversity.
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Disability, Civil Rights, and Public Policy
The Politics of Implementation
Stephen L. Percy
University of Alabama Press, 1989
An examination of US public policymaking and securing rights for people with disabilities.

Following on the heels of other Civil Rights movements, disability rights laws emerged in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Often these laws were more symbolic than precise in terms of objectives and strategies to guide the implementation of antidiscrimination policies. Policy refinement, the process of translating legislative mandates into strategies and procedures to govern administrative action, is both dynamic and controversial.

The premise of Disability, Civil Rights, and Public Policy is that implementation policies in these areas evolved through protracted political struggles among a variety of persons and groups affected by disability rights laws. Efforts to influence policies extended far beyond the process of legislative enactment and resulted in struggles that were played out in the courts and in the executive branch. Included within this examination of federal disability rights laws are the role of symbolic politics, the strengths and weaknesses of contemporary models used for the study of policy implementation, and the politics of administrative policymaking.
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Disability in Twentieth-Century German Culture
Carol Poore
University of Michigan Press, 2010

"Comprehensively researched, abundantly illustrated and written in accessible and engaging prose . . .  With great skill, Poore weaves diverse types of evidence, including historical sources, art, literature, journalism, film, philosophy, and personal narratives into a tapestry which illuminates the cultural, political, and economic processes responsible for the marginalization, stigmatization, even elimination, of disabled people---as well as their recent emancipation."
---Disability Studies Quarterly

"A major, long-awaited book. The chapter on Nazi images is brilliant---certainly the best that has been written in this arena by any scholar."
---Sander L. Gilman, Emory University

"An important and pathbreaking book . . . immensely interesting, it will appeal not only to students of twentieth-century Germany but to all those interested in the growing field of disability studies."
---Robert C. Holub, University of Tennessee

Disability in Twentieth-Century German Culture covers the entire scope of Germany's most tragic and tumultuous century---from the Weimar Republic to the current administration---revealing how central the notion of disability is to modern German cultural history. By examining a wide range of literary and visual depictions of disability, Carol Poore explores the contradictions of a nation renowned for its social services programs yet notorious for its history of compulsory sterilization and eugenic dogma. This comprehensive volume focuses particular attention on the horrors of the Nazi era, when those with disabilities were considered "unworthy of life," but also investigates other previously overlooked topics including the exile community's response to disability, socialism and disability in East Germany, current bioethical debates, and the rise and gains of Germany's disability rights movement.

Richly illustrated, wide-ranging, and accessible, Disability in Twentieth-Century German Culture gives all those interested in disability studies, German studies, visual culture, Nazi history, and bioethics the opportunity to explore controversial questions of individuality, normalcy, citizenship, and morality. The book concludes with a memoir of the author's experiences in Germany as a person with a disability.

Carol Poore is Professor of German Studies at Brown University.

Illustration: "Monument to the Unknown Prostheses" by Heinrich Hoerle © 2007 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

A volume in the series Corporealities: Discourses of Disability

"Insightful and meticulously researched . . . Using disability as a concept, symbol, and lived experience, the author offers valuable new insights into Germany's political, economic, social, and cultural character . . . Demonstrating the significant ‘cultural phenomena' of disability prior to and long after Hitler's reign achieves several important theoretical and practical aims . . . Highly recommended."
---Choice

[more]

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Disability Rights and Religious Liberty in Education
The Story behind Zobrest v. Catalina Foothills School District
Bruce J. Dierenfield and David A. Gerber
University of Illinois Press, 2020
In 1988, Sandi and Larry Zobrest sued a suburban Tucson, Arizona, school district that had denied their hearing-impaired son a taxpayer-funded interpreter in his Roman Catholic high school. The Catalina Foothills School District argued that providing a public resource for a private, religious school created an unlawful crossover between church and state. The Zobrests, however, claimed that the district had infringed on both their First Amendment right to freedom of religion and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Bruce J. Dierenfield and David A. Gerber use the Zobrests' story to examine the complex history and jurisprudence of disability accommodation and educational mainstreaming. They look at the family's effort to acquire educational resources for their son starting in early childhood and the choices the Zobrests made to prepare him for life in the hearing world rather than the deaf community. Dierenfield and Gerber also analyze the thorny church-state issues and legal controversies that informed the case, its journey to the U.S. Supreme Court, and the impact of the high court's ruling on the course of disability accommodation and religious liberty.

[more]

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Disability, the Environment, and Colonialism
Edited by Tatiana Konrad
Temple University Press, 2024
Drawing on contemporary and historic literary and media examples of Western colonialism and Anglophone writings, Disability, the Environment, and Colonialism traces how the perverse nature of colonialism continues to dominate the globe today.

The editors and contributors provide a careful analysis of the intersection of disability, the environment, and colonialism to understand issues such as eco-ableism, environmental degradation, homogenized approaches to environmentalism, and climate change. They also look at the body as a site of colonial oppression and environmental exploitation.

Contributors: Holly Caldwell, Matthew J. C. Cella, John Gulledge, Memona Hossain, Nancy J. Hirschmann, Iain Hutchison, Andrew B. Jenks, Suha Kudsieh, Gordon M. Sayre, Jessica A. Schwartz, Anna Stenning, Aubrey Tang, Alice Wexler, and the editor.
[more]

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Disabling Interpretations
The Americans With Disabilities Act In Federal Court
Susan Gluck Mezey
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 was intended to send a clear message to society that discrimination on the basis of disability is unacceptable. As with most civil rights laws, the courts were given primary responsibility for implementing disability rights policy.

Mezey argues that the act has not fulfilled its potential primarily because of the judiciary's "disabling interpretations" in adjudicating ADA claims. In the decade of litigation following the enactment of the ADA, judicial interpretation of the law has largely constricted the parameters of disability rights and excluded large numbers of claimants from the reach of the law. The Supreme Court has not interpreted the act broadly, as was intended by Congress, and this method of decision making was for the most part mirrored by the courts below. The high court's rulings to expand state sovereign immunity and insulate states from liability in damage suits has also caused claimants to become enmeshed in litigation and has encouraged defendants to challenge other laws affecting disability rights. Despite the law's strong civil rights rhetoric, disability rights remain an imperfectly realized goal.

[more]

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Elusive Kinship
Disability and Human Rights in Postcolonial Literature
Christopher Krentz
Temple University Press, 2022

Characters with disabilities are often overlooked in fiction, but many occupy central places in literature by celebrated authors like Chinua Achebe, Salman Rushdie, J. M. Coetzee, Anita Desai, Jhumpa Lahiri, Edwidge Danticat, and others. These authors deploy disability to do important cultural work, writes Christopher Krentz in his innovative study, Elusive Kinship.  Such representations not only relate to the millions of disabled people in the global South, but also make more vivid such issues as the effects of colonialism, global capitalism, racism and sexism, war, and environmental disaster. 

Krentz is the first to put the fields of postcolonial studies, studies of human rights and literature, and literary disability in conversation with each other in a book-length study. He enhances our appreciation of key texts of Anglophone postcolonial literature of the global South, including Things Fall Apart and Midnight’s Children. In addition, he uncovers the myriad ways fiction gains energy, vitality, and metaphoric force from characters with extraordinary bodies or minds. 

Depicting injustices faced by characters with disabilities is vital to raising awareness and achieving human rights.  Elusive Kinship nudges us toward a fuller understanding of disability worldwide.

[more]

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Embodied Archive
Disability in Post-Revolutionary Mexican Cultural Production
Susan Antebi
University of Michigan Press, 2021

Embodied Archive focuses on perceptions of disability and racial difference in Mexico’s early post-revolutionary period, from the 1920s to the 1940s. In this period, Mexican state-sponsored institutions charged with the education and health of the population sought to strengthen and improve the future of the nation, and to forge a more racially homogeneous sense of collective identity and history. Influenced by regional and global movements in eugenics and hygiene, Mexican educators, writers, physicians, and statesmen argued for the widespread physical and cognitive testing and categorization of schoolchildren, so as to produce an accurate and complete picture of “the Mexican child,” and to carefully monitor and control forms of unwanted difference, including disability and racialized characteristics. Differences were not generally marked for eradication—as would be the case in eugenics movements in the US, Canada, and parts of Europe—but instead represented possible influences from a historically distant or immediate reproductive past, or served as warnings of potential danger haunting individual or collective futures.

Weaving between the historical context of Mexico’s post-revolutionary period and our present-day world, Embodied Archive approaches literary and archival documents that include anti-alcohol and hygiene campaigns; projects in school architecture and psychopedagogy; biotypological studies of urban schoolchildren and indigenous populations; and literary approaches to futuristic utopias or violent pasts.  It focuses in particular on the way disability is represented indirectly through factors that may have caused it in the past or may cause it in the future, or through perceptions and measurements that cannot fully capture it. In engaging with these narratives, the book proposes an archival encounter, a witnessing of past injustices and their implications for the disability of our present and future.

[more]

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Embodied Rhetorics
Disability in Language and Culture
Edited by James C. Wilson and Cynthia Lewiecki-Wilson
Southern Illinois University Press, 2001

Presenting thirteen essays, editors James C. Wilson and Cynthia Lewiecki-Wilson unite the fields of disability studies and rhetoric to examine connections between disability, education, language, and cultural practices. Bringing together theoretical and analytical perspectives from rhetorical studies and disability studies, these essays extend both the field of rhetoric and the newer field of disability studies.

The contributors span a range of academic fields including English, education, history, and sociology. Several contributors are themselves disabled or have disabled family members. While some essays included in this volume analyze the ways that representations of disability construct identity and attitudes toward the disabled, other essays use disability as a critical modality to rethink economic theory, educational practices, and everyday interactions. Among the disabilities discussed within these contexts are various physical disabilities, mental illness, learning disabilities, deafness, blindness, and diseases such as multiple sclerosis and AIDS.

[more]

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Employment, Disability, and the Americans with Disabilities Act
Issues in Law, Public Policy, and Research
Peter David Blanck
Northwestern University Press, 2000
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) was heralded by its congressional sponsors as an "emancipation proclamation" for people with disabilities and as the most important civil rights legislation passed in a generation. Employment, Disability, and the Americans with Disabilities Act offers a meticulously documented assessment of what has occurred since the ADA's enactment. In reasoned, empirically based articles, contributors from law, health policy, government, and business reveal the unsoundness of charges from the right that the ADA will bankrupt industry and assumptions on the left that the ADA will prove ineffective in helping those with disabilities enter and remain in the workforce.
[more]

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Exile and Pride
Disability, Queerness, and Liberation
Eli Clare
Duke University Press, 2015
First published in 1999, the groundbreaking Exile and Pride is essential to the history and future of disability politics. Eli Clare's revelatory writing about his experiences as a white disabled genderqueer activist/writer established him as one of the leading writers on the intersections of queerness and disability and permanently changed the landscape of disability politics and queer liberation. With a poet's devotion to truth and an activist's demand for justice, Clare deftly unspools the multiple histories from which our ever-evolving sense of self unfolds. His essays weave together memoir, history, and political thinking to explore meanings and experiences of home: home as place, community, bodies, identity, and activism. Here readers will find an intersectional framework for understanding how we actually live with the daily hydraulics of oppression, power, and resistance. At the root of Clare's exploration of environmental destruction and capitalism, sexuality and institutional violence, gender and the body politic, is a call for social justice movements that are truly accessible to everyone. With heart and hammer, Exile and Pride pries open a window onto a world where our whole selves, in all their complexity, can be realized, loved, and embraced.
[more]

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Familial Fitness
Disability, Adoption, and Family in Modern America
Sandra M. Sufian
University of Chicago Press, 2022
The first social history of disability and difference in American adoption, from the Progressive Era to the end of the twentieth century.

Disability and child welfare, together and apart, are major concerns in American society. Today, about 125,000 children in foster care are eligible and waiting for adoption, and while many children wait more than two years to be adopted, children with disabilities wait even longer. In Familial Fitness, Sandra M. Sufian uncovers how disability operates as a fundamental category in the making of the American family, tracing major shifts in policy, practice, and attitudes about the adoptability of disabled children over the course of the twentieth century. 

Chronicling the long, complex history of disability, Familial Fitness explores how notions and practices of adoption have—and haven’t—accommodated disability, and how the language of risk enters into that complicated relationship. We see how the field of adoption moved from widely excluding children with disabilities in the early twentieth century to partially including them at its close. As Sufian traces this historical process, she examines the forces that shaped, and continue to shape, access to the social institution of family and invites readers to rethink the meaning of family itself.
[more]

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Families We Need
Disability, Abandonment, and Foster Care’s Resistance in Contemporary China
Erin Raffety
Rutgers University Press, 2023
Set in the remote, mountainous Guangxi Autonomous Region and based on ethnographic fieldwork, Families We Need traces the movement of three Chinese foster children, Dengrong, Pei Pei, and Meili, from the state orphanage into the humble, foster homes of Auntie Li, Auntie Ma, and Auntie Huang. Traversing the geography of Guangxi, from the modern capital Nanning where Pei Pei and Meili reside, to the small farming village several hours away where Dengrong is placed, this ethnography details the hardships of social abandonment for disabled children and disenfranchised, older women in China, while also analyzing the state’s efforts to cope with such marginal populations and incorporate them into China’s modern future. The book argues that Chinese foster families perform necessary, invisible service to the Chinese state and intercountry adoption, yet the bonds they form also resist such forces, exposing the inequalities, privilege, and ableism at the heart of global family making.
[more]

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Forget Burial
HIV Kinship, Disability, and Queer/Trans Narratives of Care
Marty Fink
Rutgers University Press, 2021
Finalist for the LGBTQ Nonfiction Award from Lambda Literary

Queers and trans people in the 1980s and early ‘90s were dying of AIDS and the government failed to care. Lovers, strangers, artists, and community activists came together take care of each other in the face of state violence. In revisiting these histories alongside ongoing queer and trans movements, this book uncovers how early HIV care-giving narratives actually shape how we continue to understand our genders and our disabilities. The queer and trans care-giving kinships that formed in response to HIV continue to inspire how we have sex and build chosen families in the present. In unearthing HIV community newsletters, media, zines, porn, literature, and even vampires, Forget Burial bridges early HIV care-giving activisms with contemporary disability movements. In refusing to bury the legacies of long-term survivors and of those we have lost, this book brings early HIV kinships together with ongoing movements for queer and trans body self-determination.
 
[more]

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Foucault and Feminist Philosophy of Disability
Shelley L. Tremain
University of Michigan Press, 2017
Foucault and Feminist Philosophy of Disability is a distinctive contribution to growing discussions about how power operates within the academic field of philosophy. By combining the work of Michel Foucault, the insights of philosophy of disability and feminist philosophy, and data derived from empirical research, Shelley L. Tremain compellingly argues that the conception of disability that currently predominates in the discipline of philosophy, according to which disability is a natural disadvantage or personal misfortune, is inextricably intertwined with the underrepresentation of disabled philosophers in the profession of philosophy. Against the understanding of disability that prevails in subfields of philosophy such as bioethics, cognitive science, ethics, and political philosophy, Tremain elaborates a new conception of disability as a historically specifi c and culturally relative apparatus of power. Although the book zeros in on the demographics of and biases embedded in academic philosophy, it will be invaluable to everyone who is concerned about the social, economic, institutional, and political subordination of disabled people.
[more]

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Foucault and the Government of Disability
Shelley Tremain, Editor
University of Michigan Press, 2005

Foucault and the Government of Disability is the first book-length investigation of the relevance and importance of the ideas of Michel Foucault to the field of disability studies-and vice versa. Over the last thirty years, politicized conceptions of disability have precipitated significant social change, including the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, the redesign of urban landscapes, the appearance of closed-captioning on televisions, and the growing recognition that disabled people constitute a marginalized and disenfranchised constituency.

The provocative essays in this volume respond to Foucault's call to question what is regarded as natural, inevitable, ethical, and liberating, while they challenge established understandings of Foucault's analyses and offer fresh approaches to his work. The book's roster of distinguished international contributors represents a broad range of disciplines and perspectives, making this a timely and necessary addition to the burgeoning field of disability studies.

 
[more]

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Foucault and the Government of Disability
Shelley Tremain, Editor
University of Michigan Press, 2005
Foucault and the Government of Disability considers the continued relevance of Foucault to disability studies, as well as the growing significance of disability studies to understandings of Foucault. A decade ago, this international collection provocatively responded to Foucault’s call to question what is regarded as natural, inevitable, ethical, and liberating. The book’s contributors draw on Foucault to scrutinize a range of widely endorsed practices and ideas surrounding disability, including rehabilitation, community care, impairment, normality and abnormality, inclusion, prevention, accommodation, and special education. In this revised and expanded edition, four new essays extend and elaborate the lines of inquiry by problematizing (to use Foucault’s term) the epistemological, political, and ethical character of the supercrip, the racialized war on autism, the performativity of intellectual disability, and the potent mixture of neoliberalism and biopolitics in the context of physician-assisted suicide.

“[A]n important, prescient, and necessary contribution…a kind of litmus test for the efficacy of Foucault’s concepts in the study of disability, concepts that lead to a refusal of the biological essentialism implied in the disability/impairment binary.”
Foucault Studies

“Tremain has done an exceptional job at organizing and procuring important, rigorously argued, and entertaining essays…. This book should be a mandatory read for anyone interested in contemporary philosophical debates surrounding the experience of disability."
Essays in Philosophy

“A beautiful exploration of how Foucault’s analytics of power and genealogies of discursive knowledges can open up new avenues for thinking critically about phenomena that many of us take to be inevitable and thus new ways of resisting and possibly at times redirecting the forces that shape our lives. Every scholar, every person with an interest in Foucault or in political theory generally, needs to read this book.”
—Ladelle McWhorter, University of Richmond  


[more]

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Frontiers of Justice
Disability, Nationality, Species Membership
Martha C. Nussbaum
Harvard University Press, 2006

Theories of social justice are necessarily abstract, reaching beyond the particular and the immediate to the general and the timeless. Yet such theories, addressing the world and its problems, must respond to the real and changing dilemmas of the day. A brilliant work of practical philosophy, Frontiers of Justice is dedicated to this proposition. Taking up three urgent problems of social justice neglected by current theories and thus harder to tackle in practical terms and everyday life, Martha Nussbaum seeks a theory of social justice that can guide us to a richer, more responsive approach to social cooperation.

The idea of the social contract--especially as developed in the work of John Rawls--is one of the most powerful approaches to social justice in the Western tradition. But as Nussbaum demonstrates, even Rawls's theory, suggesting a contract for mutual advantage among approximate equals, cannot address questions of social justice posed by unequal parties. How, for instance, can we extend the equal rights of citizenship--education, health care, political rights and liberties--to those with physical and mental disabilities? How can we extend justice and dignified life conditions to all citizens of the world? And how, finally, can we bring our treatment of nonhuman animals into our notions of social justice? Exploring the limitations of the social contract in these three areas, Nussbaum devises an alternative theory based on the idea of "capabilities." She helps us to think more clearly about the purposes of political cooperation and the nature of political principles--and to look to a future of greater justice for all.

[more]

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Genetics, Disability, and Deafness
John Vickrey Van Cleve
Gallaudet University Press, 2004

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Louis Menand begins this wide-ranging volume with an essay that extols diversity and warns of the dangers of modifying the human genome. Nora Groce reviews the ways that societies have defined disability and creates an interpretive framework for discussing the relationship between culture and disability.

     In essays devoted to historical perspective, Brian H. Greenwald comments upon the real “toll” taken by A. G. Bell’s insistence upon oralism, while Joseph J. Murray weighs the nineteenth-century debate over whether deaf-deaf marriages should be encouraged. John S. Schuchman’s chilling account of deafness and eugenics in the Nazi era adds wrenching reinforcement to the impetus to include disabled people in genetics debates.

     Mark Willis offers an intensely personal reflection on the complexities of genetic alteration, addressing both his heart condition and his blindness in surprisingly different ways. Anna Middleton extends Willis’s concepts in her discussion of couples currently considering the use of genetic knowledge and technology to select for or against a gene that causes deafness.

     In the part on the science of genetics, Orit Dagan, Karen B. Avraham, Kathleen S. Arnos, and Arti Pandya clarify the choices presented by genetic engineering, and geneticist Walter E. Nance emphasizes the importance of science in offering individuals knowledge from which they can fashion their own decisions. In the concluding section, Christopher Krentz raises moral questions about the ever-continuing search for human perfection, and Michael Bérubé argues that disability should be considered democratically to ensure full participation of disabled people in all decisions that might affect them.

[more]

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Heavy Metal and Disability
Crips, Crowds, and Cacophonies
Edited by Jasmine Hazel Shadrack and Keith Kahn-Harris
Intellect Books, 2024
A study of the distinctive relationship between metal and disability.

Persisting across metal’s subgenres is a preoccupation with exploring and questioning the boundary that divides the body that has agency from the body that has none. This boundary is one that is familiar to those for whom the agency of the body is an everyday matter of survival. While metal scholars who contribute to this collection see metal as a space of possibility, in which dis/ability and other intersectional identities can be validated and understood, the collection does not imply that the possibilities that metal affords are always actualized. This collection situates itself in a wider struggle to open up metal, challenging its power structures—a struggle in which metal studies has played a significant part.

Metal’s preoccupation with unleashing and controlling sensorial overload acts both as an analog of neurodiversity and as a space in which those who are neurodivergent find ways to understand and leverage their sensory capacities. Metal offers potent resources for the self-understanding of people with disabilities. It does not necessarily mean that this potential is always explored or that metal scenes are hospitable to those with disabilities. This collection is disability-positive, validating people with disabilities as different and not damaged.
[more]

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A History of Disability
Henri-Jacques Stiker
University of Michigan Press, 2019
The first book to attempt to provide a framework for analyzing disability through the ages, Henri-Jacques Stiker's now classic A History of Disability traces the history of western cultural responses to disability, from ancient times to the present. The sweep of the volume is broad; from a rereading and reinterpretation of the Oedipus myth to legislation regarding disability, Stiker proposes an analytical history that demonstrates how societies reveal themselves through their attitudes towards disability in unexpected ways.  Through this history, Stiker examines a fundamental issue in contemporary Western discourse on disability: the cultural assumption that equality/sameness/similarity is always desired by those in society. He highlights the consequences of such a mindset, illustrating the intolerance of diversity and individualism that arises from placing such importance on equality.  Working against this thinking, Stiker argues that difference is not only acceptable, but that it is desirable, and necessary.
 
This new edition of the classic volume features a new foreword by David T. Mitchell and Sharon L. Snyder that assesses the impact of Stiker’s history on Disability Studies and beyond, twenty years after the book’s translation into English.  The book will be of interest to scholars of disability, historians, social scientists, cultural anthropologists, and those who are intrigued by the role that culture plays in the development of language and thought surrounding people with disabilities.
[more]

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A History of Disability
Henri-Jacques Stiker
University of Michigan Press, 2000
The increasing numbers of scholars, policy-makers, and political activists who are concerned with questions of physical and cognitive disability will warmly welcome Henri-Jacques Stiker's book, the first to attempt to provide a framework for analyzing disability through the ages. Published in 1997 in France as Corps infirmes et sociétés and available now in an excellent English translation, the book traces the history of western cultural responses to disability, from ancient times to the present.
In this volume, Stiker examines a fundamental issue in contemporary Western discourse on disability: the cultural assumption that equality/sameness/similarity is always desired by those in society. He highlights the consequences of such a mindset, illustrating the intolerance of diversity and individualism that arises from placing such importance on equality. Importantly, Stiker does not hesitate to assert his own stance on the issues he discusses: that difference is not only acceptable, but that it is desirable, that it is necessary.
The author goes beyond anecdotal history to traverse a little known history, penetrating to the heart of collective attitudes and reflecting on elements of policy. The sweep is broad; from a rereading and reinterpretation of the Oedipus myth to current legislation regarding disablity, he proposes an analytical history that demonstrates how societies reveal themselves through their attitudes towards disability, at times in unexpected ways, since the study of detail is often the best entry into the whole of a culture. The book will be of interest to scholars of disability, historians, social scientists, cultural anthropologists, and those who are intrigued by the role that culture plays in the development of language and thought surrounding the disabled.
[more]

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Home Bound
Growing Up With A Disability
Cass Irvin
Temple University Press, 2003
"When I was growing up, I learned that if you were a girl you went to school and college, then you married, became a wife and had a family. . . . When I became disabled, my journey, I was pretty sure, was not going to take me in those directions. What was I supposed to be? What kind of life was I supposed to have?"Once polio had made her a quadriplegic, Cass Irvin didn't know where she fit in or what would become of her. Neither did her parents, teachers, counselors, or rehabilitation therapists. And so began her search for a place to call home.In this memoir, Cass Irvin tells of the remarkable journey that transformed her from a young girl too timid to ask for help to a community activist and writer who speaks forcefully about the needs of people with disabilities. As a young girl she was taken to Warm Springs, Georgia, where she learned about living as a disabled person and found a hero in Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the famously if silently disabled president. Bright and inquisitive, Cass soon began to question the prevailing assumptions of a society that had no place for her and to question her own meekness.In time, her keen sense of injustice gave her the courage to fight for a college education. That personal victory emboldened her to find the means to live independently, but it also persuaded her that political work is the key to enabling all people with disabilities to live fulfilling lives. This book, then, is testimony to the importance of community building and organizing as well as the story of one woman's struggle for independence.
[more]

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Intoxicated
Race, Disability, and Chemical Intimacy across Empire
Mel Y. Chen
Duke University Press, 2023
In Intoxicated Mel Y. Chen explores the ongoing imperial relationship between race, sexuality, and disability. They focus on nineteenth-century biopolitical archives in England and Australia to show how mutual entanglements of race and disability take form through toxicity. Examining English scientist John Langdon Down’s characterization of white intellectual disability as Asian interiority and Queensland’s racialization and targeting of Aboriginal peoples through its ostensible concern with black opium, Chen explores how the colonial administration of race and disability gives rise to “intoxicated” subjects often shadowed by slowness. Chen charts the ongoing reverberations of these chemical entanglements in art and contemporary moments of political and economic conflict or agitation. Although intoxicated subjects may be affected by ongoing pollution or discredited as agents of failure, Chen affirmatively identifies queer/crip forms of unlearning and worldmaking under imperialism. Exemplifying an undisciplined thinking that resists linear or accretive methods of inquiry, Chen unsettles conventional understandings of slowness and agitation, intellectual method, and the toxic ordinary.
[more]

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Judaism and Disability
Portrayals in Ancient Texts from the Tanach through the Bavli
Judith Z. Abrams
Gallaudet University Press, 1998
The Jewish religion owns a virtually uninterrupted record of scripture and commentary dating back to 1,000 B.C.E. (B.C.), portions of which allow the new book Judaism and Disability: Portrayals in Ancient Texts from the Tanach through the Bavli to document attitudes toward disabled people in the earliest centuries of this ancient culture. Abrams examines the Tanach, the Hebrew acronym for the Jewish Bible, including passages from the Torah, Prophets, and Writings, and subsequent commentaries up to and through the Bavli, the Talmud of Babylonia written between the 5th and 7th centuries C.E. (A.D.).

In Judaism and Disability, the archaic portrayals of mentally ill, mentally retarded, physically affected, deaf, blind, and other disabled people reflect the sharp contrast they presented compared to the unchanging Judaic ideal of the “perfect priest.” All of these sources describe this perfection as embodied in a person who is male, free, unblemished, with da’at (cognition that can be communicated), preferably learned, and a priest. The failure to have da’at stigmatized disabled individuals, who were also compromised by the treatment they received from nondisabled people, who were directing and constraining.

As the Judaic ideal transformed from the bodily perfection of the priest in the cult to intellectual prowess in the Diaspora, a parallel change of attitudes toward disabled persons gradually occurred. The reduced emphasis upon physical perfection as a prerequisite for a relationship with God eventually enabled the enfranchisement of some disabled people and other minorities. Scholars, students, and other readers will find the engrossing process disclosed in Judaism and Disability one that they can apply to a variety of other disciplines.
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Just Below the Line
Disability, Housing, and Equity in the South
Korydon H. Smith
University of Arkansas Press, 2010
With America on the brink of the largest number of older adults and persons with disabilities in the country’s history, the deceleration in housing production during the first decade of the twenty-first century, and a continued reliance on conventional housing policies and practices, a perfect storm has emerged in the housing industry. The lack of fit between the existing housing stock and the needs of the U.S. population is growing pronounced. Just as housing needed to be retooled at the end of WWII, the American housing industry is in dire need of change today. The South—with its high rates of poverty, older residents, residents with disabilities, extensive rural areas, and out-of-date housing policies and practices—serves as a “canary in the coal mine” for the impending, nationwide housing crisis. Just Below the Line discusses how reworking the policies and practices of the housing industry in the South can serve as a model for the rest of the nation in meeting the physical and social needs of persons with disabilities and aging boomers. Policy makers, designers, builders, realtors, advocates, and housing consumers will be able to use this book to promote the production of equitable housing nationwide.

Published in collaboration with the Fay Jones School of Architecture.
[more]

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Just Care
Messy Entanglements of Disability, Dependency, and Desire
Akemi Nishida
Temple University Press, 2022

Just Care is Akemi Nishida’s thoughtful examination of care injustice and social justice enabled through care. The current neoliberal political economy has turned care into a business opportunity for the healthcare industrial complex and a mechanism of social oppression and control. Nishida analyzes the challenges people negotiate whether they are situated as caregivers, receivers, or both. Also illuminated is how people with disabilities come together to assemble community care collectives and bed activism (resistance and visions emerging from the space of bed) to reimagine care as a key element for social change.

The structure of care, Nishida writes, is deeply embedded in and embodies the cruel social order—based on disability, race, gender, migration status, and wealth—that determines who survives or deteriorates. Simultaneously, many marginalized communities treat care as the foundation of activism. Using interviews, focus groups, and participant observation with care workers and people with disabilities, Just Care looks into lives unfolding in the assemblage of Medicaid long-term care programs, community-based care collectives, and bed activism. Just Care identifies what care does, and asks: How can we activate care justice or just care where people feel cared affirmatively and care being used for the wellbeing of community and for just world making?

[more]

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Language and the Law in Deaf Communities
Ceil Lucas
Gallaudet University Press, 2003
The ninth volume in the Sociolinguistics in Deaf Communities series focuses on forensic linguistics, a field created by noted linguist Roger Shuy, who begins the collection with an introduction of the issue of language problems experienced by minorities in legal settings. Attorney and linguist Rob Hoopes follows by showing how deaf people who use American Sign Language (ASL) are at a distinct disadvantage in legal situations, such as police interrogations, where only the feeblest of efforts are made to ensure that deaf suspects understand their constitutional rights. Susan Mather, an associate professor of linguistics and interpretation, and Robert Mather, a federal disability rights attorney, examine the use of interpreters for deaf jurors during trials. They reveal the courts' gross misunderstandings of the important differences between ASL and Signed English. Sara S. Geer, an attorney at the National Association of the Deaf for 20 years, explains how the difficulty in understanding legal terminology in federal law is compounded for deaf people in every ordinary act, including applying for credit cards and filling out medical consent forms. Language and the Law in Deaf Communities concludes with a chapter by George Castelle, Chief Public Defender in Charleston, West Virginia. Although he has no special knowledge about the legal problems of deaf people, Castelle offers another perspective based upon his extensive experience in practicing and teaching law. Ceil Lucas is Professor of Linguistics in the Department of Linguistics and Interpretation at Gallaudet University. ISBN 1-56368-143-9, 6 x 9 casebound, 200 pages, tables, references, index
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Legal Rights, 6th Ed.
The Guide for Deaf and Hard of Hearing People
National Association of the Deaf
Gallaudet University Press, 2015
The standard handbook on law affecting deaf and hard of hearing people has been completely rewritten and updated. The sixth edition of Legal Rights: The Guide for Deaf and Hard of Hearing People meticulously describes those statutes that prohibit discrimination against deaf and hard of hearing people, and any others with physical challenges. Written in easy-to-understand language, the new edition describes the core legislation and laws and their critical importance since their inception: The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

       The new Legal Rights also explains the significant amendments to these laws, including the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA) and new regulations to its Title II concerning public entities and Title III pertaining to public accommodations and commercial facilities. The reauthorization of IDEA expanded the No Child Left Behind Act requirement for highly qualified teachers to all students with disabilities. This new edition also tracks the trend of passing a Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children’s Bill of Rights in a growing number of state legislatures.

       This completely new resource also delineates new legislation such as the Twenty-First Century Communications Video and Accessibility Act, which ensures access to the newest communications technology for deaf and hard of hearing people. Legal Rights also includes information on the use of interpreters in the legal system, securing its position as the most comprehensive reference of legal information for deaf and hard of hearing people now available.
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The Life Worth Living
Disability, Pain, and Morality
Joel Michael Reynolds
University of Minnesota Press, 2022

A philosophical challenge to the ableist conflation of disability and pain

 

More than 2,000 years ago, Aristotle said: “let there be a law that no deformed child shall live.” This idea is alive and well today. During the past century, Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. argued that the United States can forcibly sterilize intellectually disabled women and philosopher Peter Singer argued for the right of parents to euthanize certain cognitively disabled infants. The Life Worth Living explores how and why such arguments persist by investigating the exclusion of and discrimination against disabled people across the history of Western moral philosophy.

Joel Michael Reynolds argues that this history demonstrates a fundamental mischaracterization of the meaning of disability, thanks to the conflation of lived experiences of disability with those of pain and suffering. Building on decades of activism and scholarship in the field, Reynolds shows how longstanding views of disability are misguided and unjust, and he lays out a vision of what an anti-ableist moral future requires.

The Life Worth Living is the first sustained examination of disability through the lens of the history of moral philosophy and phenomenology, and it demonstrates how lived experiences of disability demand a far richer account of human flourishing, embodiment, community, and politics in philosophical inquiry and beyond.

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Loneliness and Its Opposite
Sex, Disability, and the Ethics of Engagement
Don Kulick and Jens Rydström
Duke University Press, 2015
Few people these days would oppose making the public realm of space, social services and jobs accessible to women and men with disabilities. But what about access to the private realm of desire and sexuality? How can one also facilitate access to that, in ways that respect the integrity of disabled adults, and also of those people who work with and care for them?

Loneliness and Its Opposite documents how two countries generally imagined to be progressive engage with these questions in very different ways. Denmark and Sweden are both liberal welfare states, but they diverge dramatically when it comes to sexuality and disability. In Denmark, the erotic lives of people with disabilities are acknowledged and facilitated. In Sweden, they are denied and blocked. Why do these differences exist, and how do both facilitation and hindrance play out in practice?

Loneliness and Its Opposite charts complex boundaries between private and public, love and sex, work and intimacy, and affection and abuse. It shows how providing disabled adults with access to sexual lives is not just crucial for a life with dignity. It is an issue of fundamental social justice with far reaching consequences for everyone.
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Making Life Work
Freedom and Disability in a Community Group Home
Jack Levinson
University of Minnesota Press, 2010
Group homes emerged in the United States in the 1970s as a solution to the failure of the large institutions that, for more than a century, segregated and abused people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Yet community services have not, for the most part, delivered on the promises of rights, self-determination, and integration made more than thirty years ago, and critics predominantly portray group homes simply as settings of social control.
 
Making Life Work is a clear-eyed ethnography of a New York City group home based on more than a year of field research. Jack Levinson shows how the group home needs the knowledgeable and voluntary participation of residents and counselors alike. The group home is an actual workplace for counselors, but for residents group home work involves working on themselves to become more autonomous. Levinson reveals that rather than being seen as the antithesis of freedom, the group home must be understood as representing the fundamental dilemmas between authority and the individual in contemporary liberal societies. No longer inmates but citizens, these people who are presumed—rightly or wrongly—to lack the capacity for freedom actually govern themselves.
 
Levinson, a former group home counselor, demonstrates that the group home depends on the very capacities for independence and individuality it cultivates in the residents. At the same time, he addresses the complex relationship between services and social control in the history of intellectual and developmental disabilities, interrogating broader social service policies and the role of clinical practice in the community.
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Making Security Social
Disability, Insurance, and the Birth of the Social Entitlement State in Germany
Greg Eghigian
University of Michigan Press, 2000
While welfare has been subject to pronounced criticism throughout the twentieth century, social insurance has consistently enjoyed the overwhelming support of European policy makers and citizens. This volume argues that the emergence of social insurance represents a paradigmatic shift in modern understandings of health, work, political participation, and government. By institutionalizing compensation, social insurance transformed it into a right that the employed population quickly came to assume.
Theoretically informed and based on intensive archival research on disability insurance records, most of which have never been used by historians, the book considers how social science and political philosophy combined to give shape to the idea of a "social" insurance in the nineteenth century; the process by which social insurance gave birth to modern notions of "disability" and "rehabilitation"; and the early-twentieth-century development of political action groups for the disabled.
Most earlier histories of German social insurance have been legislative histories that stressed the system's coercive features and functions. Making Security Social, by contrast, emphasizes the administrative practices of everyday life, the experience of consumers, and the ability of workers not only to resist, but to transform, social insurance bureaucracy and political debate. It thus demonstrates that social insurance was pivotal in establishing a general attitude of demand, claim, and entitlement as the primary link between the modern state and those it governed.
In addition to historians of Germany, Making Security Social will attract researchers across disciplines who are concerned with public policy, disability studies, and public health.
Greg Eghigian is Associate Professor of History, Penn State University.
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The Mark of Slavery
Disability, Race, and Gender in Antebellum America
Jenifer L. Barclay
University of Illinois Press, 2021
Exploring the disability history of slavery

Time and again, antebellum Americans justified slavery and white supremacy by linking blackness to disability, defectiveness, and dependency. Jenifer L. Barclay examines the ubiquitous narratives that depicted black people with disabilities as pitiable, monstrous, or comical, narratives used not only to defend slavery but argue against it. As she shows, this relationship between ableism and racism impacted racial identities during the antebellum period and played an overlooked role in shaping American history afterward. Barclay also illuminates the everyday lives of the ten percent of enslaved people who lived with disabilities. Devalued by slaveholders as unsound and therefore worthless, these individuals nonetheless carved out an unusual autonomy. Their roles as caregivers, healers, and keepers of memory made them esteemed within their own communities and celebrated figures in song and folklore.

Prescient in its analysis and rich in detail, The Mark of Slavery is a powerful addition to the intertwined histories of disability, slavery, and race.

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The Matter of Disability
Materiality, Biopolitics, Crip Affect
David T. Mitchell, Susan Antebi, and Sharon L. Snyder, Editors
University of Michigan Press, 2019
The Matter of Disability returns disability to its proper place as an ongoing historical process of corporeal, cognitive, and sensory mutation operating in a world of dynamic, even cataclysmic, change. The book’s contributors offer new theorizations of human and nonhuman embodiments and their complex evolutions in our global present, in essays that explore how disability might be imagined as participant in the “complex elaboration of difference,” rather than something gone awry in an otherwise stable process. This alternative approach to materiality sheds new light on the capacities that exist within the depictions of disability that the book examines, including Spider-Man, Of Mice and Men, and Bloodchild.
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Meaning Of A Disability
The Lived Experience of Paralysis
Albert Robillard
Temple University Press, 1999
When ethnomethodologist Albert Robillard began to suffer the  symptoms of motor-neuron disease, he realized he was a living laboratory for revealing the countless taken-for-granted methods people use to produce being together. Meaning of a Disability is a detailed autobiography of the experiences and trained observations of a university professor who became paralyzed in mid-life.

With his loss of speech, Robillard was forced to communicate through a lip-reading system developed by his wife and student assistants. Restricted by this form of communication and his paralysis, he soon learned the frustrations of making his  meaning known. Hospital nurses wrongly anticipated his words. Those who translated for him inevitably distorted his meaning. Most of all, the casual pace of conversational  give-and-take was disrupted. Old friends would leave before Robillard could provide the expected interactional response.

Finding himself isolated due to his lack of both mobility and vocalization, Robillard threw himself into his academic work and began to develop settings and methods where he could satisfactorily interact with others. A researcher and writer experienced in describing the bodily and verbal methods used to coordinate and construct the most ordinary of social forms, Robillard joins in this book both his years of sociological training and his time with illness to talk with moving and illuminating analysis about a  broad range of matters. Moving gracefully from examinations of narratives about disability and illness, the stigmatizing things that healthcare providers unwittingly say to their patients, and communication problems in the intensive care unit, to more personal reflections on anger, isolation, and stories of tragedy, Robillard also discusses disability in the workplace and such seemingly simple topics as computers and vacations. Meaning of a Disability is the personal story of a highly trained observer forced to confront simultaneously the limits of the disabled person's social world and the unspoken assumptions about meaningful interaction -- as he struggles with the daily difficulties of maintaining his identity.

Meaning of a Disability will interest a wide audience, including healthcare professionals, disabled people, and caretakers as well as academics studying ethnomethodology, health and illness, conversation, symbolic interaction, storytelling, and most aspects of lived experience.
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The Measure of Manliness
Disability and Masculinity in the Mid-Victorian Novel
Karen Bourrier
University of Michigan Press, 2015
The Measure of Manliness is among the first books to focus on representations of disability in Victorian literature, showing that far from being marginalized or pathologized, disability was central to the narrative form of the mid-century novel. Mid-Victorian novels evidenced a proliferation of male characters with disabilities, a phenomenon that author Karen Bourrier sees as a response to the rise of a new Victorian culture of industry and vitality, and its corollary emphasis on a hardy, active manhood. The figure of the voluble, weak man was a necessary narrative complement to the silent, strong man. The disabled male embodied traditionally feminine virtues, softening the taciturn strong man, and eliciting emotional depths from his seemingly coarse muscular frame. Yet, the weak man was able to follow the strong man where female characters could not, to all-male arenas such as the warehouse and the public school.

The analysis yokes together historical and narrative concerns, showing how developments in nineteenth-century masculinity led to a formal innovation in literature:  the focalization or narration of the novel through the perspective of a weak or disabled man. The Measure of Manliness charts new territory in showing how feeling and loquacious bodies were increasingly seen as sick bodies throughout the nineteenth century. The book will appeal to those interested in disability studies, gender and masculinity studies, the theorization of sympathy and affect, the recovery of women’s writing and popular fiction, the history of medicine and technology, and queer theory.
 

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Menace to the Future
A Disability and Queer History of Carceral Eugenics
Jess Whatcott
Duke University Press, 2024
In Menace to the Future, Jess Whatcott traces the link between US disability institutions and early twentieth-century eugenicist ideology, demonstrating how the legacy of those ideas continues to shape incarceration and detention today. Whatcott focuses on California, examining records from state institutions and reform organizations, newspapers, and state hospital museum exhibits. They reveal state confinement, coercive treatment, care neglect, and forced sterilization was done out of the belief that the perceived unfitness of disabled, mad, and neurodivergent people was hereditary, and thus posed a biological threat—a so-called “menace to the future.” Whatcott uncovers a history of disabled resistance to these institutions that predates disability rights movements, builds a genealogy of resistance, and tells a history of eugenics from below. Theorizing how what they call “carceral eugenics” informed state treatment of disabled, mad, and neurodivergent people a century ago, Whatcott shows not only how that same logic still exists in secure treatment facilities, state prisons, and immigration detention centers, but also why it must continue to be resisted.
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Minding Justice
Laws That Deprive People with Mental Disability of Life and Liberty
Christopher Slobogin
Harvard University Press, 2006

Minding Justice offers a comprehensive examination of the laws governing the punishment, detention, and protection of people with mental disabilities. Using famous cases such as those of John Hinckley, Andrea Yates, and Theodore Kaczynski, the book analyzes the insanity defense and related doctrines, the role of mental disability in sentencing, the laws that authorize commitment of "sexual predators" and others thought to be a threat to society, and the rules that restrict participation of mentally compromised individuals in the criminal and treatment decision-making processes.

Arguing that current legal doctrines are based on flawed premises and ignorance of the impairments caused by mental disability, Christopher Slobogin makes a case for revamping the insanity defense, abolishing the "guilty but mentally ill" verdict, prohibiting execution of people with mental disability, restructuring preventive detention, and redefining incompetency. A milestone in criminal mental health law, Minding Justice provides innovative solutions to ancient problems associated with criminal responsibility, protection of society from "dangerous" individuals, and the state's authority to act paternalistically.

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Missing Pieces
A Chronicle Of Living With A Disability
Kenneth Zola
Temple University Press, 2003
The personal odyssey of a man with a disability, this passionate book tries to tell as well as analyze what it is like to have a disability in a world that values vigor and health. Zola writes, "Missing Pieces is an unraveling of a social problem in the manner of Black Like Me. Like its author, I, too, am a trained social observer, but for me 'passing' was not an issue. For I already have the stigmata of the disabled—the braces, the limp, the cane—though I have spent much of my life denying their existence." The author started out in the role of a social scientist on a seven-day excursion to acquaint himself with an extraordinary experiment in living—Het Dorp, one of the few places in the world designed to promote "the optimum happiness" of those with severe physical disabilities. Neither a medial center nor a nursing home, Het Dorp is a village in the western-most part of the Netherlands. What began as a sociological attempt to describe this unusual setting became, through the author's growing awareness, what can only be called a socio-autobiography. Resuming his prior dependence on a wheelchair, the author experienced his own transformation from someone who is "normal" and "valid" to someone who is "invalid." The routine of Het Dorp became his: he lived in an architecturally modified home, visited the workshops, and shared meals, social events, conversation, and perceptions with the remarkably diverse residents. The author confronts some rarely discussed issues—the self-image of a person with a chronic disability, how one fills one's time, how one deals with authority and dependence, and love and sex. Missing Pieces offers striking insights into an aspect of the human condition shared by nearly 30 million Americans. It is must-read for the general reader, as well as for the rehabilitation counselor, social worker, or social scientist.
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Monstrous Kinds
Body, Space, and Narrative in Renaissance Representations of Disability
Elizabeth B. Bearden
University of Michigan Press, 2019
Monstrous Kinds is the first book to explore textual representations of disability in the global Renaissance. Elizabeth B. Bearden contends that monstrosity, as a precursor to modern concepts of disability, has much to teach about our tendency to inscribe disability with meaning. Understanding how early modern writers approached disability not only provides more accurate genealogies of disability, but also helps nuance current aesthetic and theoretical disability formulations.

The book analyzes the cultural valences of early modern disability across a broad national and chronological span, attending to the specific bodily, spatial, and aesthetic systems that contributed to early modern literary representations of disability. The cross section of texts (including conduct books and treatises, travel writing and wonder books) is comparative, putting canonical European authors such as Castiglione into dialogue with transatlantic and Anglo-Ottoman literary exchange.  Bearden questions grand narratives that convey a progression of disability from supernatural marvel to medical specimen, suggesting that, instead, these categories coexist and intersect.
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Music, Disability, and Society
Authored by Alex Lubet
Temple University Press, 2010

Musical talent in Western culture is regarded as an extraordinary combination of technical proficiency and interpretative sensitivity. In Music, Disability, and Society, Alex Lubet challenges the rigid view of technical skill and writes about music in relation to disability studies. He addresses the ways in which people with disabilities are denied the opportunity to participate in music.

Elaborating on the theory of "social confluence," Lubet provides a variety of encounters between disability and music to observe radical transformations of identity. Considering hand-injured and one-handed pianists; the impairments of jazz luminaries Django Reinhardt, Horace Parlan, and "Little" Jimmy Scott; and the "Blind Orchestra" of Cairo, he shows how the cultural world of classical music contrasts sharply with that of jazz and how musicality itself is regarded a disability in some religious contexts. Music, Disability, and Society also explains how language difference can become a disability for Asian students in American schools of music, limiting their education and careers.

Lubet offers pungent criticism of the biases in music education and the music profession, going so far as to say that culture disables some performers by adhering to rigid notions of what a musician must look like, how music must be played, who may play it, and what (if any) is the legitimate place of music in society. In Music, Disability, and Society, he convincingly argues that where music is concerned, disability is a matter of culture, not physical impairment.

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Narrative Prosthesis
Disability and the Dependencies of Discourse
David T. Mitchell and Sharon L. Snyder
University of Michigan Press, 2001
Narrative Prosthesis: Disability and the Dependencies of Discourse develops a narrative theory of the pervasive use of disability as a device of characterization in literature and film. It argues that, while other marginalized identities have suffered cultural exclusion due to a dearth of images reflecting their experience, the marginality of disabled people has occurred in the midst of the perpetual circulation of images of disability in print and visual media. The manuscript's six chapters offer comparative readings of key texts in the history of disability representation, including the tin soldier and lame Oedipus, Montaigne's "infinities of forms" and Nietzsche's "higher men," the performance history of Shakespeare's Richard III, Melville's Captain Ahab, the small town grotesques of Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio and Katherine Dunn's self-induced freaks in Geek Love.
David T. Mitchell is Associate Professor of Literature and Cultural Studies, Northern Michigan University. Sharon L. Snyder is Assistant Professor of Film and Literature, Northern Michigan University.
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Negotiating the Disabled Body
Representations of Disability in Early Christian Texts
Anna Rebecca Solevåg
SBL Press, 2018

An intersectional study of New Testament and noncanonical literature

Anna Rebecca Solevåg explores how nonnormative bodies are presented in early Christian literature through the lens of disability studies. In a number of case studies, Solevåg shows how early Christians struggled to come to terms with issues relating to body, health, and dis/ability in the gospel stories, apocryphal narratives, Pauline letters, and patristic expositions. Solevåg uses the concepts of narrative prosthesis, gaze and stare, stigma, monster theory, and crip theory to examine early Christian material to reveal the multiple, polyphonous, contradictory ways in which nonnormative bodies appear.

Features:

  • Case studies that reveal a variety of understandings, attitudes, medical frameworks, and taxonomies for how disabled bodies were interpreted
  • A methodology that uses disability as an analytical tool that contributes insights about cultural categories, ideas of otherness, and social groups’ access to or lack of power
  • An intersectional perspective drawing on feminist, gender, queer, race, class, and postcolonial studies
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A New Civil Right
Telecommunications Equality for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Americans
Karen Peltz Strauss
Gallaudet University Press, 2006

When three deaf men in the 1960s invented and sold TTYs, the first teletypewriting devices that allowed deaf people to communicate by telephone, they started a telecommunications revolution for deaf people throughout America. A New Civil Right: Telecommunications Equality for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Americans chronicles the history of this movement, which lagged behind new technical developments decades after the advent of TTYs.

In this highly original work, Author Karen Peltz Strauss reveals how the paternalism of the hearing-oriented telecommunications industries slowed support for technology for deaf users. Throughout this comprehensive account, she emphasizes the grassroots efforts behind all of the eventual successes. A New Civil Right recounts each advance in turn, such as the pursuit of special customer premises equipment (SCPE) from telephone companies; the Telecommunications Act of 1982 and the Telecommunications Accessibility Enhancement Act of 1988 and the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, which required nationwide relay telephone services for deaf and hard of hearing users.

Strauss painstakingly details how all of these advances occurred incrementally, first on local and state levels, and later through federal law. It took exhaustive campaigning to establish 711 for nationwide relay dialing, while universal access to television captioning required diligent legal and legislative work to pass the Decoder Circuitry Act in 1990. The same persistence resulted in the enactment of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which required all off-the-shelf communications equipment, including new wireless technology, to be readily accessible to deaf users.

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Novel Bodies
Disability and Sexuality in Eighteenth-Century British Literature
Jason S. Farr
Bucknell University Press, 2019
Novel Bodies examines how disability shapes the British literary history of sexuality. Jason Farr shows that various eighteenth-century novelists represent disability and sexuality in flexible ways to reconfigure the political and social landscapes of eighteenth-century Britain. In imagining the lived experience of disability as analogous to—and as informed by—queer genders and sexualities, the authors featured in Novel Bodies expose emerging ideas of able-bodiedness and heterosexuality as interconnected systems that sustain dominant models of courtship, reproduction, and degeneracy. Further, Farr argues that they use intersections of disability and queerness to stage an array of contemporaneous debates covering topics as wide-ranging as education, feminism, domesticity, medicine, and plantation life. In his close attention to the fiction of Eliza Haywood, Samuel Richardson, Sarah Scott, Maria Edgeworth, and Frances Burney, Farr demonstrates that disabled and queer characters inhabit strict social orders in unconventional ways, and thus opened up new avenues of expression for readers from the eighteenth century forward.


Published by Bucknell University Press. Distributed worldwide by Rutgers University Press.
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Points of Contact
Disability, Art, and Culture
Susan Crutchfield and Marcy Epstein, Editors
University of Michigan Press, 2000
Points of Contact brings together contributions by leading writers, artists, scholars, and critics to provide a remarkably broad and consistently engaging look at the intersection of disability and the arts. The contributions include essays and memoirs by a wide range of disabled and nondisabled writers, including Bell Gale Chevigny, Sandra Gilbert, Joseph Grigely, Georgina Kleege, Victoria Ann Lewis, Carol Poore, Tobin Siebers, and Rosemarie Garland Thomson among others; poetry by Brooke Horvath, Joan Seliger Sidney, William Stafford, and others; fiction by Stephen Dixon, Michael Downs, Georgina Kleege, Dallas Wiebe, and others.
The collection covers a broad range of subjects and concerns that lie at the intersection of disability and the arts, including fetal alcohol syndrome, education, and identity; representations of disability in the visual arts and the complicated position of the disabled spectator; the impact of cancer on the patient and the caregiver; the similarities between beauty pageants and freak shows; Alzheimer's disease; prosthetic devices; the mechanized disabled body; disability and performance; and profiles of Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan, Christopher Reeve, Franklin Roosevelt, and sado-masochistic performance artist Bob Flanagan.
Points of Contact: Disability, Art, and Culture was originally published as a special double issue of the well regarded literary magazine, the Michigan Quarterly Review. Now available in a single, convenient paperback volume, its broad range of perspectives on disability and its entertaining and engaging selections will appeal to general readers, scholars, and students alike.
Susan Crutchfield is lecturer in English, University of Michigan. Marcy Epstein teaches literature at The Roeper School and women's studies at Henry Ford Community College.
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The Politics of Disability in Interwar and Socialist Czechoslovakia
Segregating in the Name of the Nation
Victoria Shmidt
Amsterdam University Press, 2019
By focusing on the politics of disability as a pillar of Czechoslovak identity, The Politics of Disability in Interwar and Socialist Czechoslovakia: Segregating in the Name of the Nation reflects upon the vicissitudes of nation building over the twentieth century that led to extreme forms of institutional violence against minorities, mainly the Roma, such as forced sterilization. The authors trace the intersectionality of ethnicity and disability, which proliferated across diverse realms of public life, positioning the continuities and ruptures of interrogating propaganda and racial science during the interwar and post-war periods as establishing and reinforcing the border between a healthy Czech majority and a disabled Roma minority. The book critically revises this border that remains observable but unapproachable until it operates as a part of constructing the authenticity of a nation.
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Queer Silence
On Disability and Rhetorical Absence
J. Logan Smilges
University of Minnesota Press, 2022

Championing the liberatory potential of silence to address the fraught disability politics of queerness

In queer culture, silence has been equated with voicelessness, complicity, and even death. Queer Silence insists, however, that silence can be a generative and empowering mode of survival. Triangulating insights from queer studies, disability studies, and rhetorical studies, J. Logan Smilges explores what silence can mean for people whose bodyminds signify more powerfully than their words.

Queer Silence begins by historicizing silence’s negative reputation, beginning with the ways homophile activists rejected medical models pathologizing homosexuality as a disability, resulting in the silencing of disability itself. This silencing was redoubled by HIV/AIDS activism’s demand for “out, loud, and proud” rhetorical activities that saw silence as capitulation.

Reading a range of cultural artifacts whose relative silence has failed to attract queer attachment, from anonymous profiles on Grindr to ex-gays to belated gender transitions to disability performance art, Smilges argues for silence’s critical role in serving the needs of queers who are never named as such. Queer Silence urges queer activists and queer studies scholars to reconcile with their own ableism by acknowledging the liberatory potential of silence, a mode of engagement that disattached queers use every day for resistance, sociality, and survival.

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Cover alt text: Background detail of a painting on canvas shows a partial view of the upper body and face of a figure, bearded and naked; title in painted script.

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Reading Embodied Citizenship
Disability, Narrative, and the Body Politic
Russell, Emily
Rutgers University Press, 2011

Liberal individualism, a foundational concept of American politics, assumes an essentially homogeneous population of independent citizens. When confronted with physical disability and the contradiction of seemingly unruly bodies, however, the public searches for a story that can make sense of the difference. The narrative that ensues makes "abnormality" an important part of the dialogue about what a genuine citizen is, though its role is concealed as an exception to the rule of individuality rather than a defining difference. Reading Embodied Citizenship brings disability to the forefront, illuminating its role in constituting what counts as U.S. citizenship.

Drawing from major figures in American literature, including Mark Twain, Flannery O'Connor, Carson McCullers, and David Foster Wallace, as well as introducing texts from the emerging canon of disability studies, Emily Russell demonstrates the place of disability at the core of American ideals. The narratives prompted by the encounter between physical difference and the body politic require a new understanding of embodiment as a necessary conjunction of physical, textual, and social bodies. Russell examines literature to explore and unsettle long-held assumptions about American citizenship.

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Recovering Bodies
Illness, Disability, and Life Writing
G. Thomas Couser
University of Wisconsin Press, 1997
    This is a provocative look at writing by and about people with illness or disability—in particular HIV/AIDS, breast cancer, deafness, and paralysis—who challenge the stigmas attached to their conditions by telling their lives in their own ways and on their own terms. Discussing  memoirs, diaries, collaborative narratives, photo documentaries, essays, and other forms of life writing, G. Thomas Couser shows that these books are not primarily records of medical conditions; they are a means for individuals to recover their bodies (or those of loved ones) from marginalization and impersonal medical discourse.
    Responding to the recent growth of illness and disability narratives in the United States—such works as Juliet Wittman’s Breast Cancer Journal, John Hockenberry’s Moving Violations, Paul Monette’s Borrowed Time: An AIDS Memoir, and Lou Ann Walker’s A Loss for Words: The Story of Deafness in a Family—Couser addresses questions of both poetics and politics. He examines why and under what circumstances individuals choose to write about illness or disability; what role plot plays in such narratives; how and whether closure is achieved; who assumes the prerogative of narration; which conditions are most often represented; and which literary conventions lend themselves to representing particular conditions. By tracing the development of new subgenres of personal narrative in our time, this book explores how explicit consideration of illness and disability has enriched the repertoire of life writing. In addition, Couser’s discussion of medical discourse joins the current debate about whether the biomedical model is entirely conducive to humane care for ill and disabled people.
    With its sympathetic critique of the testimony of those most affected by these conditions, Recovering Bodies contributes to an understanding of the relations among bodily dysfunction, cultural conventions, and identity in contemporary America.
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Re/imaginations of Disability in State Socialism
Visions, Promises, Frustrations
Edited by Katerina Kolárová and Martina Winkler
Campus Verlag, 2021
An interdisciplinary survey of disability in socialist states throughout global history.

In Re/imaginations of Disability in State Socialism, an interdisciplinary group of scholars examines how disability has been conceptualized and treated in socialist states throughout global history. Drawing on intersectional theories that set disability in conversation with other identity categories such as race, age, gender, and sexuality, this book offers a unique approach to this crucial issue.
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Schooling and Disability
Edited by Douglas P. Biklen, Dianne L. Ferguson, and Alison Ford
University of Chicago Press, 1989

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Sex and Disability
Robert McRuer and Anna Mollow, eds.
Duke University Press, 2012
The title of this collection of essays, Sex and Disability, unites two terms that the popular imagination often regards as incongruous. The major texts in sexuality studies, including queer theory, rarely mention disability, and foundational texts in disability studies do not discuss sex in much detail. What if "sex" and "disability" were understood as intimately related concepts? And what if disabled people were seen as both subjects and objects of a range of erotic desires and practices? These are among the questions that this collection's contributors engage. From multiple perspectives—including literary analysis, ethnography, and autobiography—they consider how sex and disability come together and how disabled people negotiate sex and sexual identities in ableist and heteronormative culture. Queering disability studies, while also expanding the purview of queer and sexuality studies, these essays shake up notions about who and what is sexy and sexualizable, what counts as sex, and what desire is. At the same time, they challenge conceptions of disability in the dominant culture, queer studies, and disability studies.

Contributors
. Chris Bell, Michael Davidson, Lennard J. Davis, Michel Desjardins, Lezlie Frye, Rachael Groner, Kristen Harmon, Michelle Jarman, Alison Kafer, Riva Lehrer, Nicole Markotić, Robert McRuer, Anna Mollow, Rachel O’Connell, Russell Shuttleworth, David Serlin, Tobin Siebers, Abby L. Wilkerson
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Sexuality, Disability, and Aging
Queer Temporalities of the Phallus
Jane Gallop
Duke University Press, 2019
Drawing on her own experiences with late-onset disability and its impact on her sex life, along with her expertise as a cultural critic, Jane Gallop explores how disability and aging work to undermine one's sense of self. She challenges common conceptions that equate the decline of bodily potential and ability with a permanent and irretrievable loss, arguing that such a loss can be both temporary and positively transformative. With Sexuality, Disability, and Aging, Gallop explores and celebrates how sexuality transforms and becomes more queer in the lives of the no longer young and the no longer able while at the same time demonstrating how disability can generate new forms of sexual fantasy and erotic possibility.
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Shakin' All Over
Popular Music and Disability
George McKay
University of Michigan Press, 2013

Given the explosion in recent years of scholarship exploring the ways in which disability is manifested and performed in numerous cultural spaces, it’s surprising that until now there has never been a single monograph study covering the important intersection of popular music and disability. George McKay’s Shakin’ All Over is a cross-disciplinary examination of the ways in which popular music performers have addressed disability: in their songs, in their live performances, and in various media presentations.

By looking closely into the work of artists such as Johnny Rotten, Neil Young, Johnnie Ray, Ian Dury, Teddy Pendergrass, Curtis Mayfield, and Joni Mitchell, McKay investigates such questions as how popular music works to obscure and accommodate the presence of people with disabilities in its cultural practice. He also examines how popular musicians have articulated the experiences of disability (or sought to pass), or have used their cultural arena for disability advocacy purposes.

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Signifying Bodies
Disability in Contemporary Life Writing
G. Thomas Couser
University of Michigan Press, 2010

"Thomas Couser's Signifying Bodies comes at a crucial moment when debates about physician assisted suicide, genetic engineering, and neo-natal screening are raising the question of what constitutes a 'life worth living' for persons with disabilities. Couser's work engages these debates by exploring the extensive number of personal narratives by or about persons with disabilities. As Couser brilliantly demonstrates through synoptic readings, these works challenge the 'preferred rhetorics' by which such narratives are usually written (triumphalist, gothic, nostalgic) while making visible the variegated nature of embodied life."
---Michael Davidson, University of California, San Diego

"Signifying Bodies shows us that life writing about disability is . . . everywhere. . . . From obituary to documentary film to ethnography to literary memoir to the law, the book casts a wide net, detailing how various written and filmed responses to disability both enact and resist conventional narrative patterns. [This] not only broadens our idea about where to look for life writing, but also demonstrates how thoroughly stereotypes about disability mediate our social and artistic languages---even when an author has (so-called) the best intentions."
---Susannah B. Mintz, Skidmore College

Memoirs have enjoyed great popularity in recent years, experiencing significant sales, prominent reviews, and diverse readerships. Signifying Bodies shows that at the heart of the memoir phenomenon is our fascination with writing that focuses on what it means to live in, or be, an anomalous body---in other words, what it means to be disabled. Previous literary accounts of the disabled body have often portrayed it as a stable entity possibly signifying moral deviance or divine disfavor, but contemporary writers with disabilities are defining themselves and depicting their bodies in new ways. Using the insights of disability studies and source material ranging from the Old and New Testaments to the works of authors like Lucy Grealy and Simi Linton and including contemporary films such as Million Dollar Baby, G. Thomas Couser sheds light on a broader cultural phenomenon, exploring topics such as the ethical issues involved in disability memoirs, the rhetorical patterns they frequently employ, and the complex relationship between disability narrative and disability law.

G. Thomas Couser is Professor of English at Hofstra University.

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Stumbling Blocks Before the Blind
Medieval Constructions of a Disability
Edward Wheatley
University of Michigan Press, 2010

"Bold, deeply learned, and important, offering a provocative thesis that is worked out through legal and archival materials and in subtle and original readings of literary texts. Absolutely new in content and significantly innovative in methodology and argument, Stumbling Blocks Before the Blind offers a cultural geography of medieval blindness that invites us to be more discriminating about how we think of geographies of disability today."
---Christopher Baswell, Columbia University

"A challenging, interesting, and timely book that is also very well written . . . Wheatley has researched and brought together a leitmotiv that I never would have guessed was so pervasive, so intriguing, so worthy of a book."
---Jody Enders, University of California, Santa Barbara

Stumbling Blocks Before the Blind presents the first comprehensive exploration of a disability in the Middle Ages, drawing on the literature, history, art history, and religious discourse of England and France. It relates current theories of disability to the cultural and institutional constructions of blindness in the eleventh through fifteenth centuries, examining the surprising differences in the treatment of blind people and the responses to blindness in these two countries. The book shows that pernicious attitudes about blindness were partially offset by innovations and ameliorations---social; literary; and, to an extent, medical---that began to foster a fuller understanding and acceptance of blindness.

A number of practices and institutions in France, both positive and negative---blinding as punishment, the foundation of hospices for the blind, and some medical treatment---resulted in not only attitudes that commodified human sight but also inhumane satire against the blind in French literature, both secular and religious. Anglo-Saxon and later medieval England differed markedly in all three of these areas, and the less prominent position of blind people in society resulted in noticeably fewer cruel representations in literature.

This book will interest students of literature, history, art history, and religion because it will provide clear contexts for considering any medieval artifact relating to blindness---a literary text, a historical document, a theological treatise, or a work of art. For some readers, the book will serve as an introduction to the field of disability studies, an area of increasing interest both within and outside of the academy.

Edward Wheatley is Surtz Professor of Medieval Literature at Loyola University, Chicago.

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Their Time Has Come
Youth with Disabilities on the Cusp of Adulthood
Leiter, Valerie
Rutgers University Press, 2012
The lives of youth with disabilities have changed radically in the past fifty years. Youth who are coming of age right now are the first generation to receive educational services throughout childhood and adolescence. Disability policies have opened up opportunities to youth, and they have responded by getting higher levels of education than ever before. Yet many youth are being left behind, compared to their peers without disabilities. Youth with disabilities often still face major obstacles to independence.

In Their Time Has Come, Valerie Leiter argues that there are crucial missing links between federal disability policies and the lives of young people. Youth and their parents struggle to gather information about the resources that disability policies have created, and youth are not typically prepared to use their disability rights effectively. Her argument is based on thorough examination of federal disability policy and interviews with young people with disabilities, their parents, and rehabilitation professionals. Attention is given to the diversity of expectations, the resources available to them, and the impact of federal policy and public and private attitudes on their transition to adulthood.

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Unlearning Eugenics
Sexuality, Reproduction, and Disability in Post-Nazi Europe
Dagmar Herzog
University of Wisconsin Press, 2020
Since the defeat of the Nazi Third Reich and the end of its horrific eugenics policies, battles over the politics of life, sex, and death have continued and evolved. Dagmar Herzog documents how reproductive rights and disability rights, both latecomers to the postwar human rights canon, came to be seen as competing—with unexpected consequences.

Bringing together the latest findings in Holocaust studies, the history of religion, and the history of sexuality in postwar—and now also postcommunist—Europe, Unlearning Eugenics shows how central the controversies over sexuality, reproduction, and disability have been to broader processes of secularization and religious renewal. Herzog also restores to the historical record a revelatory array of activists: from Catholic and Protestant theologians who defended abortion rights in the 1960s–70s to historians in the 1980s–90s who uncovered the long-suppressed connections between the mass murder of the disabled and the Holocaust of European Jewry; from feminists involved in the militant "cripple movement" of the 1980s to lawyers working for right-wing NGOs in the 2000s; and from a handful of pioneers in the 1940s–60s committed to living in intentional community with individuals with cognitive disability to present-day disability self-advocates.
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Unmentionable Madness
Gender, Disability, and Shame in the Malaria Treatment of Neurosyphilis
Christin L. Hancock
University of Illinois Press, 2025
In 1930, neurosyphilis struck an unsuspecting Mabel Smith. Doctors at the Central State Hospital for the Insane in Indianapolis turned to malaria therapy--a radical treatment that relied on the belief that infection with malaria might save Smith’s life by attacking the bacterium that causes syphilis.

Christin L. Hancock looks through the lens of feminist disability to examine the popular but ethically suspect treatment and its consequences. As Hancock shows, the treatment’s purported success rate relied on the disabled minds and bodies of people incarcerated in mental hospitals. The backgrounds and identities of these patients reflected and perpetuated attitudes around poverty, gender, race, and disability while betraying authorities’ desire to protect the public from women and men perceived as abnormal, sexually tainted, and unworthy of community life.

Paying special attention to the patients’ voices and experiences, Unmentionable Madness offers a disability history that confronts the ethics of experimentation.

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Vulnerable Constitutions
Queerness, Disability, and the Remaking of American Manhood
Cynthia Barounis
Temple University Press, 2019

Amputation need not always signify castration; indeed, in Jack London’s fiction, losing a limb becomes part of a process through which queerly gendered men become properly masculinized. In her astute book, Vulnerable Constitutions, Cynthia Barounis explores the way American writers have fashioned alternative—even resistant—epistemologies of queerness, disability, and masculinity. She seeks to understand the way perverse sexuality, physical damage, and bodily contamination have stimulated—rather than created a crisis for—masculine characters in twentieth- and early twenty-first-century literature.  

Barounis introduces the concept of “anti-prophylactic citizenship”—a mode of political belonging characterized by vulnerability, receptivity, and risk—to examine counternarratives of American masculinity. Investigating the work of authors including London, William Faulkner, James Baldwin, and Eli Clare, she presents an evolving narrative of medicalized sexuality and anti-prophylactic masculinity. Her literary readings interweave queer theory, disability studies, and the history of medicine to demonstrate how evolving scientific conversations around deviant genders and sexualities gave rise to a new model of national belonging—ultimately rewriting the story of American masculinity as a story of queer-crip rebellion.

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Wheelchair Warrior
Gangs, Disability, and Basketball
Melvin Juette and Ronald J. Berger
Temple University Press, 2008

Melvin Juette has said that becoming paralyzed in a gang-related shooting was “both the worst and best thing that happened” to him. The incident, he believes, surely spared the then sixteen year-old African American from prison and/or an early death. It transformed him in other ways, too. He attended college and made wheelchair basketball his passion—ultimately becoming a star athlete and playing on the U.S. National Wheelchair Basketball Team.

In Wheelchair Warrior, Juette reconstructs the defining moments of his life with the assistance of sociologist Ronald Berger. His poignant memoir is bracketed by Berger’s thoughtful introduction and conclusion, which places this narrative of race, class, masculinity and identity into proper sociological context, showing how larger social structural forces defined his experiences. While Juette’s story never gives into despair, it does challenge the idea of the “supercrip.”

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Window Shopping with Helen Keller
Architecture and Disability in Modern Culture
David Serlin
University of Chicago Press
A particular history of how encounters between architects and people with disabilities transformed modern culture.
 
Window Shopping with Helen Keller recovers a series of influential moments when architects and designers engaged the embodied experiences of people with disabilities. David Serlin reveals how people with sensory and physical impairments navigated urban spaces and helped to shape modern culture. Through four case studies—the lives of Joseph Merrick (aka “The Elephant Man”) and Helen Keller, the projects of the Works Progress Administration, and the design of the Illinois Regional Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped—Serlin offers a new history of modernity’s entanglements with disability.
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Work Requirements
Race, Disability, and the Print Culture of Social Welfare
Todd Carmody
Duke University Press, 2022
Throughout the history of the United States, work-based social welfare practices have served to affirm the moral value of work. In the late nineteenth century this representational project came to be mediated by the printed word with the emergence of industrial print technologies, the expansion of literacy, and the rise of professionalization. In Work Requirements Todd Carmody asks how work, even the most debasing or unproductive labor, came to be seen as inherently meaningful during this era. He explores how the print culture of social welfare—produced by public administrators, by economic planners, by social scientists, and in literature and the arts—tasked people on the social and economic margins, specifically racial minorities, incarcerated people, and people with disabilities, with shoring up the fundamental dignity of work as such. He also outlines how disability itself became a tool of social discipline, defined by bureaucratized institutions as the inability to work. By interrogating the representational effort necessary to make work seem inherently meaningful, Carmody ultimately reveals a forgotten history of competing efforts to think social belonging beyond or even without work.
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