disability studies in literature

Scholars examine how disability is perceived in the social and natural sciences, history, society, and literature. They occasionally applied to disability feminist debates about essentialism versus social constructivism, postcolonial and critical race scholars’ analysis of hybrid identities, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s notion of how a dominant group often depends on a subordinated group for its status, Donna Haraway’s concept of the cyborg, extending the field’s insights, relevance, and legitimacy. As we will see, the field has made some progress in these areas, but more work remains to be done. Titchkosky, Tanya. In a parallel vein, in The Ugly Laws, Susan Schweik investigated laws that sprang up against the “unsightly beggar” in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, bringing together disability, race, gender, and poverty, and adding another layer to our understanding of the social enforcement of normalcy during this period (Schweik 2010: vii). Or it can be normality, as in Nancy Mairs’s Waist High in the World (1997) and other memoirs and autobiographies by disabled people whose disability is simply part of life. Davis suggested that nineteenth‐century novels often reinforce this idea of the norm by featuring protagonists who are ordinary, non‐heroic citizens, while disabled characters, like Hippolyte in Flaubert’s Madame Bovary (1857) or Tiny Tim in Dickens’s A Christmas Carol (1843), typically have marginal roles. The philosopher and critic Michel Foucault also wrote about bodies that differed from the norm in works like The History of Sexuality (1976). Above all, disability studies teach us that, in reality, "normal" and "abnormal" are just a fantasy, a construction of what a culture values and, especially, of how it expects (or requires) its citizens to look, to function, and to be. While in the 1980s disability studies was dominated by social science approaches, in the 1990s literary and cultural criticism took on a prominent and leading role. Christopher Bell followed a 2006 exhortative essay with an edited collection, Blackness and Disability (2012), which sought to bring disability studies and African‐American studies more forcefully together. In his classic study Stigma (1963), the sociologist Erving Goffman analyzed social interactions around people, including those with “abominations of the body,” who differed from the expected norm (Goffman 1963: 4). Click on the link to get to the online issues. In another area, many critics have followed Garland‐Thomson by publishing multidisciplinary studies of freakery and its afterlives. Cultural Locations of Disability. “Infinities of Forms: Disability Figures and Artistic Traditions.” In Disability Studies: Enabling the Humanities, ed. 1963. Now, through books like Stuart Murray’s Representing Autism (2008), that gap has begun to be addressed. ), Benjamin Reiss (ed. It can signify ritual insight, as in the blind prophet Tiresias in Greek myth. 1989, c1952. Others have resisted such a formulation. 2013. ), Series: Routledge Studies in Science, Technology and Society 11, Publisher: Boynton/Cook Publishers, Year: 1995 Davis, Lennard J. He showed how both ableism (discrimination or prejudice against disabled people in favor of able‐bodied people) and heteronormativity support each other, pressuring people to behave in socially acceptable ways. Chang and Eng Reconnected: The Original Siamese Twins in American Culture. 2012. “Disability and Narrative.” PMLA 120 (2): 568–76. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Perhaps because of new interest in disability, improved access, and/or easier paths to publication, a number of autobiographical works have appeared by writers across the disability spectrum including Nancy Mairs, Kenny Fries, Anne Finger, Georgina Kleege, and Stephen Kuusisto. (5MB), Series: Routledge Studies in Medieval Religion and Culture, Author(s): David M. Turner, Kevin Stagg (eds. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers. Review of Disability Studies Like feminist, critical race, and queer approaches to literature and culture, disability studies relates to a specific group: in this case, disabled people, who make up approximately 15 percent of the world population and are among the most poor and disempowered groups globally. 2016. Tom Shakespeare, while saying the social model was crucial, called for more sophisticated methods that recognize disability as a phenomenon “requiring different levels of analysis and intervention, ranging from the medical to the socio‐political” (Shakespeare 2006: 204). These foundational works in literary disability studies argued that literature and culture in the West often upheld normalcy and consigned disabled people to the margins, a dynamic that had real‐world consequences for disabled people. Instead, they presented themselves as a unified group facing widespread discrimination. He described how, starting in the nineteenth century, bodies seen as problems were sequestered, controlled, diagnosed, and otherwise socially managed. Schweik, Susan. Similarly, a few years later Tobin Siebers identified a powerful but largely invisible “ideology of ability” that permeates society, which he said is often a “baseline by which humanness is determined. 2013. 'This book assembles an impressive array of scholars whose collective work changes the terrain of disability studies and biblical scholarship. Critics have examined such texts as The World I Live In (1908), by Helen Keller, who was deaf and blind; My Left Foot (1954) by Christy Brown, who had cerebral palsy; and Face to Face (1957) by Ved Mehta, who is blind. (1MB), Series: Routledge Studies in Cultural History 14, Author(s): Elsayed Elshabrawy Ahmad Hassanein (auth. Such work has given a direct written voice to disabled authors, who often testify to their journey from isolation to membership in a larger community. Reading with the material lives of disabled people in mind, scholars like Davis (1995) and Mitchell and Snyder (2000) noted how such discourse increases the negative cultural meanings and the stigma of having a disability. New York: The Modern Language Association. "The Disability Studies Reader edited by Lennard J. Davis is to the field of Disability Studies what the Norton anthologies are to literature. shtml. (2MB), Series: Routledge Advances in Disability Studies, Author(s): Tim Corcoran, Julie White, Ben Whitburn (eds. Mitchell, David, and Sharon Snyder. Aesthetic Nervousness: Disability and the Crisis of Representation. Disability Studies aims to make scholars, students, and contemporary citizens aware of the ideas of disabilities prevalent throughout society. Animacies: Biopolitics, Racial Mattering, and Queer Affect. As Alice Hall and others have pointed out, since 1990 there has been an outpouring of life writing by disabled authors. Scholars have pointed out how disability can shape the very form of narratives. On the contrary, she argued that often disability is an integral part of their accomplishments: “Disability experiences led [them] to literary achievement, not as mere compensation for physical differences but as necessary re‐signification of their bodies in the social register of art” (Snyder 2002: 178). Nice and informative article, it helps me to get an idea about litrary disability studies. Vidali, Amy. The Ugly Laws: Disability in Public. New York: New York University Press. ), Series: Interdisciplinary disability studies, Author(s): Rachel Adams (ed. According to one organizer, a “high point” came when civil rights icon Julian Bond visited (Cone 1997). Although normalcy might seem something constant and neutral, Davis showed that the word norm with its present meaning arose only in the mid‐nineteenth century with the Industrial Revolution and the advent of statistics (before then, he maintained, the concept of the ideal was paramount). ), Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan US, Year: 2013 Probing representations of such characters has become a staple of literary disability studies, revealing hidden patterns and expanding the way canonical narratives are read. To help advance Darwinian principles of natural selection, eugenicists targeted disempowered groups. McRuer, Robert. ... dictionaries, dissertations, and conference papers on literature, languages, folklore and linguistics. Disability studies is a relatively new interdisciplinary academic field focusing on the roles of people with disabilities in history, literature, social policy, law, architecture, and other disciplines. In an effort to make out‐of‐print writing by deaf people more available, in the late 1990s Gallaudet University Press launched its “Gallaudet Classics in Deaf Studies” series, republishing work by such deaf authors as Laurent Clerc (1785–1869) and Laura Redden Searing (1840–1923). Starting in the late 1960s, disabled activists in the United States and the United Kingdom began to argue they were a group and denied basic rights. 1978. Samuels, Ellen. Similarly, critics have focused exclusively on deafness, blindness, and madness in literature, drawing out how those specific disabilities have been represented across time, and sometimes offering useful cultural history of their disabled group as well. Enforcing Normalcy: Deafness, Disability, and the Body. David Theo Goldberg and Ato Quayson, 217–30. “Normal.” Keywords for Disability Studies, ed. Candidates here include Milton, who became blind, Alexander Pope, who had short stature and a spinal condition, Lord Byron, who was born with a deformed foot, Flannery O’Connor, who as adult contracted lupus and walked on crutches, Borges, who lost much of his sight, and many more. Mitchell, David, and Sharon Snyder. The Showman and the Slave: Race, Death, and Memory in Barnum’s America. ), Publisher: SensePublishers, Year: 2015 Between 1835 and 1940, such shows were especially popular in Europe and the United States. Together with disability activism, such work prepared the way for disability studies. Drawing on queer theory and Adrienne Rich’s notion of “compulsory heterosexuality,” in 2002 Robert McRuer identified a “compulsory able‐bodiedness,” where “being able‐bodied means being capable of the normal physical exertions required in a particular system of labor” (McRuer 2002: 91). For example, in 2005 Michael Bérubé acknowledged the value of objecting to representations that simply invoke pity or horror, but wrote that rejecting disability tropes because they are not realistic seems “incompatible with the enterprise of professional literary study” (Bérubé 2005: 570). In the early years of the field, disability studies scholars were sometimes faulted for overlooking cognitive disability. Similarly, critics called for more work on disability in African‐American literature. To advocate for themselves, disempowered groups have repeatedly steered attention away from material bodies to unjust ways that society treats them. “Disability Studies: A Field Emerged.” American Quarterly 65 (4): 915–26. References 2011. 2002. Exhibited figures included Saartjie Baartman, the so‐called Hottentot Venus with the large breasts and buttocks typical of her African tribe, brought from South Africa to England and France in the early 1810s, and the microcephalic black man of P. T. Barnum’s “What Is It?” exhibit displayed in the United States starting in 1860. In these ways, a major contribution of disability studies has been to make the dominant ideology of normalcy visible. Hall, Alice. Goffman, Erving. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press. (1MB), Series: Disability studies (Nova Science Publishers), Publisher: Nova Science, Year: 2010 Barker, Clare. As the field of literary disability studies quickly matured, some scholars pointed out that it was an overwhelmingly white and Euro‐American enterprise that needed to focus more on non‐Western literature and on writing by people of color. New York: New York University Press. New York: New York University Press. 2001. These matters showed up in disability scholars’ literary and cultural analysis. “Signifying Bodies: Life Writing and Disability Studies.” In Disability Studies: Enabling the Humanities, ed. Cathy J. Schlund-Vials (ed. Home › Disability Studies › Disability Studies, By Nasrullah Mambrol on December 15, 2018 • ( 2 ). 2011. The Americans’ Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), for instance, defines disability not just as “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities” or “a record of such impairment,” but also as “being regarded as having such an impairment.” The last part of the definition acknowledges the importance of social attitudes and perspectives in forming disability. From Shakespeare’s limping Richard III to the blind inhabitants of Wells’s “The Country of the Blind” (1904), from the cognitively disabled Benjy Compson in Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury (1929) to McCullers’s deaf John Singer in The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (1940), from Achebe’s stuttering Okonkwo in Things Fall Apart (1958) to Sinha’s physically deformed narrator in Animal’s People (2007), disability shows up in every period and literary tradition. Early literary disability studies critics sometimes expressed misgivings about figurative uses of disability, pointing out how such tropes frequently are quick ways vividly to depict something bad, broken, or wrong, even if that thing is unrelated to disability itself. The fourth edition of the reader has just been released in February. Sorry, your blog cannot share posts by email. Cone, Kitty. Sideshow U.S.A.: Freaks and the American Cultural Imagination. Bell, Christopher. It is in fact, canon-making. Beauty is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability. Representing Autism: Culture, Narrative, and Fascination. Along with the emergence of disability studies came increased attention to writing by disabled people themselves. In the process, they revealed that disability is a central, illuminating critical category. New York: New York University Press. Bolt joined Liverpool Hope University in August 2009 as a lecturer in disability studies. Cambridge. Fantasies of Identification: Disability, Gender, Race. Disability studies emerged out of the disability civil rights movement in the late twentieth century. News organizations publicized the sit‐in and other groups offered their support. It also demonstrated how ableism overlaps with racism, sexism, and “other forms of human diminishment that position some humans on the edges of belonging” (Titchkosky 2015: 131). New York: New York University Press. The potential universality of disability has sometimes divided scholars. The Second Sex. (5MB), Author(s): Blake Howe, Stephanie Jensen-Moulton, Neil Lerner, Joseph Straus (eds. For his part, in Freaks (1978) literary critic Leslie Fiedler explored the long history of people’s fascination with non‐normative human bodies and their display for profit. Pioneering scholars in the field embraced a “social model” that directs attention away from the body to how society treats disabled people. Next, narratives offer an account of the causes and consequences of the disability; they bring the disability from the margin into the center of the story; and finally, they cure, rehabilitate, or eliminate the deviance in some way, restoring a sense of order. Like Lennard J. Davis, Mitchell and Snyder contended that narratives often buttress the norm. Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity. Elizabeth J. Donaldson is Professor of English and Associate Dean of Curriculum and Student Engagement at New York Institute of Technology, where she teaches courses in bioethics and American literature and directs the Medical Humanities program. Boston: Beacon Press. 2001. The Board of Directors of the Society for Disability Studies (SDS) stands in solidarity with the ongoing response by the Movement for Black Lives to police brutality and mass incarceration. One of the first topics they took on was not disability per se but its seeming opposite, normalcy, which they revealed often to be socially formed and to have enormous influence. (1MB), Author(s): Janice McLaughlin, Edmund Coleman-Fountain, Emma Clavering, Blake Howe, Stephanie Jensen-Moulton, Neil Lerner, Joseph Straus (eds. The Secret Life of Stories: From Don Quixote to Harry Potter, How Understanding Intellectual Disability Transforms the Way We Read. In this way, the very structure of the nineteenth‐century novel upholds normalcy. Disability studies is an academic discipline that examines the meaning, nature, and consequences of disability. Bérubé, Michael. Such intersectional approaches helped disability studies to emerge as a consequential, exciting intellectual pursuit with an activist orientation. Literature and Disability. ), Series: Pennsylvania Studies in Human Rights, Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press, Year: 2013 Reading and Writing Bodies: Disability Studies Meets Literary Theory (12MB), Publisher: SAGE Publications Ltd, Year: 2011 Blake Howe, Stephanie Jensen-Moulton, Neil Lerner, Joseph Straus (eds.) They noted that cultural meanings of normalcy and disability might differ from the West and cautioned against simply exporting Western disability theories. Foucault, Michel. It is an essential disability studies journal for scholars whose work concentrates on the portrayal of disability. A defect of the body structure. 2008. For example, in 1952 feminist Simone de Beauvoir famously wrote that “one is not born, but rather becomes, a woman,” that is, that culture and not biology determines what it means to be a woman (Beauvoir 1952: 247). Fiedler, Leslie. 2016. In 2002, Ato Quayson called for more attention to disability in postcolonial texts, noting that both disability studies and postcolonial studies had similar interests in power relations and identity. Bartlett, Jennifer, Sheila Black, and Michael Northern (eds.). Lecturer in English PSC Solved Question Paper, http://www.un.org/disabilities/convention/conventionfull, International Article Writing Competition, Freaks: Myths and Images of the Secret Self, NTA UGC NET English June 2020 Questions and Answers. “Disability Studies 2.0.” American Literary History 22 (1): 218–31. (2MB), Author(s): Matthew Wappett, Katrina Arndt (eds. 2002. Such activism not only contributed to a string of legislative victories that banned discrimination and improved access and inclusion (including the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990), but also gave disabled people a sense of pride and community. 2006. http://dredf. Again, disability studies opened fresh approaches to literary investigation. In Aesthetic Nervousness (2007), Ato Quayson summarized nine functions of disability representation in literature and narrative film. Academic work. Disability studies, an interdisciplinary area of study based in the humanities and social sciences that views disability in the context of culture, society, and politics … Initially, the field focused on the division between "impairment" and "disability", where impairment was an impairment of an individual's mind or body, … Furthermore, as Irving Zola pointed out, disability is a nearly universal experience (Shakespeare 2006: 204), because unless we die suddenly we will be disabled at some point in our lives. Feminist, Queer, Crip. 2016. Rachel Adams, Benjamin Reiss, and David Serlin, 130–2. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Lennard J. Davis, 197–204. Notably, some disability studies scholars have claimed certain canonical writers as disabled, even if the authors themselves did not view themselves in such terms during their lifetimes. Disability studies has given disabled people a voice in the academy that they previously did not have and enhanced our understanding not only of the humanities but also of social justice. Robert Hurley. The History of Sexuality, Vol. Post was not sent - check your email addresses! Quayson, Ato. 2006. 2011. Literary critics in disability studies increasingly turned their attention to disability representations from the Global South. Samuels’s book is part of a pronounced trend in literary disability studies to bring disability together more forcefully with other established identity categories. (3MB), Publisher: Indiana University Press, Year: 2011 Such a strategy has parallels in other rights‐based identity fields. New York: Vintage. Disability Studies Quarterly (DSQ) is the journal of the Society for Disability Studies (SDS).It is a multidisciplinary and international journal of interest to social scientists, scholars in the humanities, disability rights advocates, creative writers, and others concerned with the issues of people with disabilities. Blackness and Disability: Critical Examinations and Cultural Interventions. Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. (8MB), Author(s): Karen Beauchamp-Pryor, Simoni Symeonidou (auth. Sharon L. Snyder, Brenda Jo Brueggemann, and Rosemarie Garland‐Thomson, 88–99. In addition, they sometimes investigated how depictions relate to their historical moment, showing how authors create, perpetuate, or contest the attitudes of their time. What is evidence of their bodies in their work? Still, the relationship between biology and culture, between essentialism and cultural constructivism, has some unique complications in the case of disability and has been an area of debate. ), Publisher: SensePublishers, Year: 2015 Extraordinary Bodies: Figuring Physical Disability in American Culture and Literature. “Seeing What We Know: Disability and Theories of Metaphor.” Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies 4 (1): 33–54. They also remarked on the effects of widespread poverty. Rather than trying to diagnose characters with disabilities, scholars in literary disability studies investigate the almost bewildering number of functions that the representations of disability perform. With no acknowledged corpus of disability literature, they began mostly to explore the numerous ways that disability operates in canonical works and in culture, often in their scholarship deftly moving between the two. 1998. Couser, G. Thomas. (2MB), Author(s): Nick Watson, Alan Roulstone, Carol Thomas, Author(s): Gary L. Albrecht, Katherine Delores Seelman, Michael Bury, Publisher: SAGE Publications, Inc, Year: 2001 Meanings of disability are not constant, but vary from work to work, just as in reality they vary with bodily condition, time, and place. Publisher: Nova Science Pub Inc, Year: 2010 mental retardation America: History and Life is the definitive index of literature covering the history and culture of the United States and Canada, from prehistory to the present. Benjamin Reiss investigated P. T. Barnum’s career and its relationship to national anxieties about race, gender, and the body, while Cynthia Wu considered the original Siamese twins, Chang and Eng, and their impact in American literature and culture. Sharon L. Snyder, Brenda Jo Brueggemann, and Rosemarie Garland‐Thomson, 173–96. Disability studies is an interdisciplinary academic tradition comprising disciplines spanning from sociology and educational sciences to ethics and literature. Only with the rise of Nazi concentration camps during World War II did eugenics become discredited, although normalcy continues to have powerful sway. Narrative Prosthesis: Disability and the Dependencies of Discourse. 2014. Instead, he argued for an approach that raises awareness of how many familiar metaphors and narrative devices are “grounded in the underrecognized and undertheorized facts of bodily difference” (2005: 570). For example, in her 2001 Sideshow U.S.A., Rachel Adams not only explored the historical freak show, but also its appearance in twentieth‐century film, photography, and literature by authors such as McCullers and Morrison. London: Routledge. By expressing a collective voice and turning attention away from the medicalization of individual bodies to the organization of society, such activism also led to the emergence of disability studies. Disability studies began to emerge in the West in the late twentieth century as a result of the success of the disability rights movement, the seminal work of a few scholars like Erving Goffman and Michel Foucault, and the flourishing of other interdisciplinary identity‐based approaches that revealed compelling new aspects of the humanities while emphasizing rights. Linton reminded readers that the social model created the broad alliance that helped disabled people to achieve important legislative victories that changed for better access, inclusion, and protections from discrimination. Disability Theory. Although in practice scholars in disability studies still mostly emphasized the cultural aspects of disability, the field and policymakers largely embraced an understanding that encompasses both biology and culture. That same year, the journal MELUS published a special issue on “Race, Ethnicity, Disability, and Literature,” and soon thereafter scholars such as Schweik and Ellen Samuels made race a prominent part of their monographs. These endeavors gave disability studies scholars models and parallels to use and helped the field to mature quickly. For example, in 1977 about 150 people with a range of impairments took over a floor of a federal building in San Francisco for 26 days to protest the government’s failure to implement Section  504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act, which was America’s first disability civil rights law. Linton (1998) insisted that “I am not willing or interested in erasing the line between disabled and nondisabled people, as long as disabled people are devalued and discriminated against, and as long as naming the category serves to call attention to that treatment” (1998: 13). New York: The Modern Language Association. (3MB), Series: Cambridge Studies in Islamic Civilization, Publisher: Cambridge University Press, Year: 2014 Disability studies thus reminds us that everyone has a stake in how disabled people are treated. Discussing The History of the Life and Adventures of Mr. Duncan Campbell (1720)—sometimes attributed to Defoe—and other examples, he explored how the rise of mass literacy and the advent of deaf education in eighteenth‐century Europe helped writing to serve as a meeting ground of sorts where deaf and hearing people could interact. Finally, she pointed out that while the medical model typically consigned disabled people to the care of health professionals and other specialists, the social model turned attention outward, making disability a fruitful topic of inquiry for a range of academic disciplines that in the past have had little to say about the subject. (2MB), Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan US, Year: 2015 Snyder, Sharon. ), Publisher: Oxford University Press, Year: 2015 Instead, they argued that disability is produced as much by cultural and environmental factors as by bodily conditions, and have focused mainly on the former. 1, trans. “Compulsory Able‐ Bodiedness and the Queer/Disabled Existence.” In Disability Studies: Enabling the Humanities, ed. Anthologies such as Beauty is a Verb (2011) have brought contemporary disability poetry to a wider reading public. , metaphor, and the Dependencies of Discourse a group identity, despite many differences among them recognizes as... 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