Cultural Signs of Queerness and Disability
Publication Year: 2006
Crip Theory attends to the contemporary cultures of disability and queerness that are coming out all over. Both disability studies and queer theory are centrally concerned with how bodies, pleasures, and identities are represented as “normal” or as abject, but Crip Theory is the first book to analyze thoroughly the ways in which these interdisciplinary fields inform each other.
Drawing on feminist theory, African American and Latino/a cultural theories, composition studies, film and television studies, and theories of globalization and counter-globalization, Robert McRuer articulates the central concerns of crip theory and considers how such a critical perspective might impact cultural and historical inquiry in the humanities. Crip Theory puts forward readings of the Sharon Kowalski story, the performance art of Bob Flanagan, and the journals of Gary Fisher, as well as critiques of the domesticated queerness and disability marketed by the Millennium March, or Bravo TV’s Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. McRuer examines how dominant and marginal bodily and sexual identities are composed, and considers the vibrant ways that disability and queerness unsettle and re-write those identities in order to insist that another world is possible.
Published by: NYU Press
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Foreword: Another Word Is Possible
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I’ve admired Robert McRuer’s work for some time now, and Crip Theory gives me all the more reason for admiration. Although over the past couple of years the overdue conversation between queer theory and disability studies has begun to produce new work that expands the parameters of both fields, most people—myself included—still find it exceptionally...
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I am especially grateful to Joseph Choueike and Tom Murray; and to Kim Q. Hall, Angela Hewett, Dan Moshenberg, Craig Polacek, and Abby L. Wilkerson. Their generosity and love are at work in this book, and this simple acknowledgment cannot begin to do justice to the ways in which they have sustained me and kept me focused on the simple...
Introduction: Compulsory Able-Bodiedness and Queer/Disabled Existence
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In queer studies it is a well-established critical practice to remark on heterosexuality’s supposed invisibility.1 As the heterosexual norm congealed during the twentieth century, it was the “homosexual menace” that was specified and embodied; the subsequent policing and containment of that menace allowed the new heterosexual normalcy to...
1: Coming Out Crip: Malibu Is Burning
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A 1991 issue of differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies was one of the first major special issues of an academic journal on what guest editor Teresa de Lauretis called “queer theory.” For de Lauretis, queer theory generally emerged from academic studies of the construction of sexuality and of sexual marginalization: How have sexualities been ...
2: Capitalism and Disabled Identity: Sharon Kowalski, Interdependency, and Queer Domesticity
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On November 18, 2003, the Supreme Court of Massachusetts ruled that the state was discriminating against lesbians and gay men by denying them the right to marry. The court gave Massachusetts lawmakers six months to rectify the situation, meaning that marriage licenses for same-sex couples would be issued as early as May 2004. In February...
3: Noncompliance: The Transformation, Gary Fisher, and the Limits of Rehabilitation
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The story of Sharon Kowalski and Karen Thompson, from the previous chapter, could be understood at least in part as a story of competing understandings of rehabilitation. Donald and Della Kowalski believed that there was little possibility of rehabilitation for Sharon, given the extent of her disabilities. For the Kowalskis, who or what their daughter had been in the past or could be in the...
4: Composing Queerness and Disability: The Corporate University and Alternative Corporealities
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Most teachers and students of writing experience the cultural practice of composition as a difficult, messy, disorienting affair—the encounter between a writer and the blank page or computer screen, like any encounter between two bodies, can leave one, as Tina Turner suggests in “What’s Love Got to Do with It?”, dazed and confused...
5: Crip Eye for the Normate Guy: Queer Theory, Bob Flanagan, and the Disciplining of Disability Studies
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In “Seeing the Disabled: Visual Rhetorics of Disability in Popular Photography,” Rosemarie Garland-Thomson argues that representations of disability in photography, over more than a century, have generally fallen into four broad categories. These categories or modes include, first, the wondrous, which places the disabled subject on high and elicits...
Epilogue: Specters of Disability
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From the protests at the Mumbai World Social Forum in chapter 1 to the World Bank’s capitalization on disability images in chapter 5, we might conclude that a specter is haunting disability studies, the specter of globalization. Or, perhaps more properly, specters, and perhaps they are more properly specters of counterglobalization (the proper is so elusive...
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About the Author
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Robert McRuer is an associate professor of English at the George Washington University, where he teaches critical theory, disability studies, and queer studies. He is the author of The Queer Renaissance: Contemporary American Literature and the Reinvention of Lesbian and Gay Identities and...
Page Count: 299
Publication Year: 2006