Concerto for the Left Hand
Disability and the Defamiliar Body
Publication Year: 2008
Published by: University of Michigan Press
Prelude: The Pool
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At the community pool where I swim every day you can see Disability Nation in broad relief. Today, lanes 1 and 2 are given over to the special ed kids from the nearby middle school. They include at least one child with cerebral palsy, another who is probably autistic, others developmentally and neurologically impaired. In lane 3 Helen, who walks with braces and ...
Introduction: Concerto for the Left Hand
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In its short existence as an academic discipline, disability studies has devoted significant attention to the representation of disabled persons in the visual arts, literature, theater, and public life. Disability scholars have studied the ways that cultural forms depend on a putatively normal body to reinforce regimes of national, racial, and sexual normalcy while using the ...
1. Strange Blood: Hemophobia and the Unexplored Boundaries of Queer Nation
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In the late 1970s, the development of freeze-dried blood-clotting factors drawn from multiple donors dramatically affected the lives of persons with hemophilia.1 Until this time, persons with chronic blood diseases had relied on transfusions from whole blood or cryoprecipitate (fresh frozen plasma) administered by a nurse or physician.2 Such transfusions ...
2. Phantom Limbs: Film Noir’s Volatile Bodies
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In Jacques Tourneur’s film Out of the Past (1947), a deaf boy (Dickie Moore) protects Jeff Bailey (Robert Mitchum) from police and gangsters who, for differing reasons, are pursuing him for his role in a murder. Jeff is subsequently killed by the femme fatale, Kathie (Jane Greer) when she discovers that he is handing her over to the police as the killer.When Jeff ’s ...
3. Hearing Things: The Scandal of Speech in Deaf Performance
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In the film version (1986) of Mark Medoff ’s play Children of a Lesser God (1980), James (William Hurt) is a speech instructor at a school for the deaf who believes that his students must be educated into oral culture by being taught to lip-read and speak. He falls in love with Sarah (Marlee Maitlin) who is Deaf but who refuses to participate in his pedagogical project. She ...
4. Tree Tangled in Tree: Resiting Poetry through ASL
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At a 2004 conference on disability studies in the university, Simi Linton spoke about Casey Martin, the golfer who was denied access to the PGA national golf tour because, as someone with a mobility impairment, he needed to ride in an electric cart. As Linton pointed out, his disability is not located in the game of golf—which he plays spectacularly—but in the ....
5. Missing Larry: The Poetics of Disability in Larry Eigner
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The year 2000 marked the tenth anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, an event commemorated in June by a twenty-four-city relay by disabled athletes and activists. The torch for this relay arrived in Southern California, carried by Sarah Will in a jet ski on Venice Beach. After handing the torch to another disabled athlete, Will was lifted into her ...
6. Nostalgia for Light: Being Blind at the Museum
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In the opening of the Proteus chapter of Ulysses Stephen Dedalus wanders on Sandymount Strand, questioning the “ineluctable modality of the visible” by asking if the world disappears when he cannot see it. He tests his ruminations by closing his eyes. What he discovers is not the absence of space but an acute awareness of time, registered through the sound of his own footsteps clattering over the cobbles. What he loses of space he ...
7. Universal Design: The Work of Disability in an Age of Globalization
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[To view this text, refer to the print version of this title.]
8. Organs without Bodies: Transplant Narratives in the Global Market
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Stephen Frears’s movie Dirty Pretty Things concerns a black-market organ trafficking ring that operates out of a London Hotel. In the film, Senor Juan, the hotel manager who runs the illegal operation, threatens his Nigerian desk clerk, Okwe (Chiwetel Ejiofor), with deportation unless he participates in illegal transplant operations. Okwe, who is a doctor in his ...
Afterword: Disability and the Defamiliar Body
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Thus far in Concerto for the Left Hand I have resisted mentioning my subtitle almost successfully. “Disability and the Defamiliar Body” is my clumsy attempt to characterize the uncanny nature of disability, as a both personal and social form of estrangement. I come to the defamiliar body ...
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Page Count: 304
Illustrations: 13 B&W photographs and 2 line drawings
Publication Year: 2008