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Living the Life
Most stories about disabled people are written for the sake of being inspirational. These stories tend to focus on some achievement, such as a sports or academics, but rarely do they give a true and complete view of the challenges individuals must deal with on a daily basis. For example: How does a deaf-blind person interact with hearing-sighted people at a family reunion? How does she shop for groceries? What goes through his mind when he enters a classroom full of non-handicapped peers? These aren’t questions you are likely to find answers to while reading that incredible tale of success. They are, however, issues that a deaf-blind person wishes others understood. Deaf–Blind Reality: Living the Life explores what life is really like for persons with a combination of vision and hearing loss, and in a few cases, other disabilities as well. Editor Scott M. Stoffel presents extensive interviews with 12 deaf-blind individuals, including himself, who live around the world, from Missouri to New Zealand, Louisiana to South Africa, and Ohio to England. These contributors each describe their families’ reactions and the support they received; their experiences in school and entering adulthood; and how they coped with degeneration, ineffective treatments, and rehabilitation. Each discusses their personal education related to careers, relationships, and communication, including those with cochlear implants. Deaf–Blind Reality offers genuine understanding of the unspectacular, but altogether daunting challenges of daily life for deaf-blind people.
Sarah D. Phillips examines the struggles of disabled persons in Ukraine and the other former Soviet states to secure their rights during the tumultuous political, economic, and social reforms of the last two decades. Through participant observation and interviews with disabled Ukrainians across the social spectrum -- rights activists, politicians, students, workers, entrepreneurs, athletes, and others -- Phillips documents the creative strategies used by people on the margins of postsocialist societies to assert claims to "mobile citizenship." She draws on this rich ethnographic material to argue that public storytelling is a powerful means to expand notions of relatedness, kinship, and social responsibility, and which help shape a more tolerant and inclusive society.
Liminal Spaces of Embodied Knowledge
The editors survey the theoretical frameworks of feminism and disability studies, locating the points of overlap crucial to a study of disability and mothering. Organized in five sections, the book engages questions about reproductive technologies; diagnoses and cultural scripts; the ability to rewrite narratives of mothering and disability; political activism; and the tensions formed by the overlapping identities of race, class, nation, and disability. The essays speak to a broad audience—from undergraduate and graduate students in women’s studies and disability studies, to therapeutic and health care professionals, to anyone grappling with issues such as genetic testing and counseling, raising a child with disability, or being disabled and contemplating starting a family.
Blurring the Lines of Identity
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.
Prescriptions for Change
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 cliche 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.
The field of disability history continues to evolve rapidly. In this collection, Susan Burch and Michael Rembis present nineteen essays that integrate critical analysis of gender, race, historical context, and other factors to enrich and challenge the traditional modes of interpretation still dominating the field. As the first collection of its kind in over a decade, Disability Histories not only brings readers up to date on scholarship within the field but fosters the process of moving it beyond the U.S. “Western European axis by offering work on Africa, South America, and Asia. The result is a broad range of readings that open new vistas for investigation and study while encouraging scholars at all levels to redraw the boundaries that delineate who and what is considered of historical value. Informed and accessible, Disability Histories is essential for classrooms engaged in all facets of disability studies within and across disciplines. Contributors are Frances Bernstein, Daniel Blackie, Pamela Block, Elsbeth Bosl, Dea Boster, Susan K. Cahn, Alison Carey, Fatima Cavalcante, Jagdish Chander, Audra Jennings, John Kinder, Catherine Kudlick, Paul R. D. Lawrie, Herbert Muyinda, Kim E. Nielsen, Katherine Ott, Stephen Pemberton, Anne Quartararo, and Penny Richards.
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
Contentious Politics, 1970-1999
Part and parcel to the civil rights movements of the past 30 years has been a sustained, coordinated effort among disabled Americans to secure equal rights and equal access to that of non-disabled people. Beyond merely providing a history of this movement, Sharon Barnartt and Richard Scotch’s Disability Protests: Contentious Politics, 1970–1999 offers an incisive, sociological analysis of 30 years of protests, organization, and legislative victories within the deaf and disabled populations. The authors begin with a thoughtful consideration of what constitutes “contentious” politics and what distinguishes a sustained social movement from isolated acts of protest. The numbers of disability rights protests are meticulously catalogued over the course of 30 years, revealing significant increases in both cross-disability actions as well as disability-specific actions. Political rancor within disability communities is addressed as well. Chapter four, “A Profile of Contentious Actions” confronts the thorny question of who is “deaf enough” or “disabled enough” to adequately represent their constituencies. Barnartt and Scotch conclude by giving special attention to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the 1988 Deaf President Now protest, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, focusing on how these landmark events affected their proponents. Disability Protests offers an entirely original sociological perspective on the emerging movement for deaf and disability rights.