Disability in Twentieth-Century German Culture
Publication Year: 2007
Published by: University of Michigan Press
List of Illustrations
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The goal of this book is to write disability into a central place in the German cultural history of the twentieth century. It is actually surprising that this has not been done before. After all, many leading artists, writers, filmmakers, and others have taken disability as one of their most significant themes. Intense debates have occurred in many sociopolitical contexts over how to interpret and evaluate particular kinds...
1. Disability in the Culture of the Weimar Republic
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How did disabled people fit into the era of war and revolution, cultural experimentation, economic turmoil, and political crisis that was the Weimar Republic? What was old and what was new about the options open to them? On the one hand, many remained objects of charity or social outcasts. Some lived their lives as invalids hidden away by their...
2. Disability and Nazi Culture
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During the Third Reich, cultural representations of disability and, in a broader sense, of illness constantly circulated. Along with anticommunist and anti-Semitic propaganda, national socialists created countless images of disabled people as the third major prong of their efforts to define the racial goals of their violent political movement. Their attacks on communism frequently presented “Bolsheviks” as subhuman...
3. No Friends of the Third Reich: Different Views of Disability from Exile
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During the twelve years of the Third Reich, it was only in exile that Germans could publicly continue to profess a commitment to universal human equality and advocate adequate support for poor, disabled, and ill people. Since eugenics had found supporters across the political spectrum before 1933, however, very few exiled Germans opposed to...
4. Disability in the Defeated Nation: The Federal Republic
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People with disabilities were the group on whom the national socialists attempted most intensely to enforce their distinctions between the sick and the healthy with the ultimate aim of eliminating the sick from the body of the German nation. Consequently, studying both the lives of disabled people and significant images of disability in postwar German...
5. Breaking the Spell of Metaphor: Three Examples from Film, Literature, and the Media
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After the early 1970s, depictions of illness multiplied rapidly in Westand East German, Austrian, and Swiss literature, autobiography, film,and art. Within the framework of this development, certain illnessesseemed particularly well suited for portraying complex struggles overnormative discourses—whether about the psychic pressures...
6. Disability and Socialist Images of the Human Being in the Culture of the German Democratic Republic
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The relationship of socialist theory and practice to the body, and speci‹cally to the disabled body, is fraught with contradictions. It is a complex story both of seeing and blocking from view; of susceptibility to eugenic, biologistic tendencies; and of compassionate, supportive perspectives rooted in a commitment to human equality. In telling this...
7. Disability Rights, Disability Culture, Disability Studies
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Since the 1970s in the Federal Republic, and then in reunified Germany, many disabled people have increasingly insisted on self-determination and have achieved some notable successes in many areas. The disability rights movement has rejected the outdated view of disabled people as only needy and helpless, and it has worked toward empowering them to...
8. German/American Bodies Politic: A Look at Some Current Biocultural Debates
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During the week of September 18–24, 2003, Berlin became the “City of 1,000 Questions.” A visitor at that time might have been surprised to see large projections on the city’s most prominent buildings with questions such as: “Where is the gene going?” “What if my child wants optimized parents?” “Does disability begin with the wrong hair color?” “Is there...
9. We Shall Overcome Overcoming: An American Professor’s Reflections on Disability in Germany and the United States
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I am a professor of German studies at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. Because I contracted polio at the age of three in the epidemic of 1952, I use crutches and wear leg braces. Over thirty-five yearsago I traveled to the Federal Republic of Germany for the first time,spending fifteen months there in 1970–71. Given my family background,...
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Index of Names
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Page Count: 432
Publication Year: 2007
Series Title: Corporealities: Discourses of Disability