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Acknowledgments This book is based on a decade and a half of research devoted to thinking about embodiment and disability’s social placement as exceptional deviation . Essentially our guiding question has centered on why, when all species are characterized and sustained by mutation, convergence and divergence, embodied vulnerability and adaptive reroutings, would disability situate some individuals outside of social registers of desirability, creativity, acceptability , private and public forms of participation? Given this state of affairs a more important follow-­ up question pressed itself upon us: What do disabled people do with themselves once their social inclusion is announced as a finished project of the modern nation state? Much of this research was done in collaboration with other disabled and disability-­ identified scholars, artists, activists, professional colleagues, relations, and friends. Our early work on disability culture catalyzed an interest in these research questions as we searched for like-­ minded individuals with whom to share our comfort in being disabled. Our first professional interaction with disability studies came in 1993 when we presented an essay on disability and Lacanian subjectivity for the “Otras Habilidades” conference held in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. There we had the tremendous good fortune to meet many of the colleagues who would go on to spur and support our work over the long and winding road of our professional careers: Simi Linton, Rosemarie Garland Thomson, Cindy LaCom, Harlan Hahn, Marcy Epstein , Susan Crutchfield, Martha Stoddard Holmes, Russell Vickery, Pierre Etienne Cudmore, and Nandita Batra. On the island of Puerto Rico we first realized that our experiences of nonnormative embodiment could be shared and turned into some useful grist for academic analysis. A second moment of revelation about the camaraderie available in dis- viii Acknowledgments ability culture occurred during our participation in a 1994 conference at the University of Michigan, “This/Ability: A Conference on Disability and the Arts.” Here we collected the interviews and performance footage that would become the documentary film Vital Signs: Crip Culture Talks Back (1995). The film was financed by Northern Michigan University and captured by a group of Sharon’s film students who founded the Gonzo Media Student Group: Grant Guston, Nicole Bracy, Matt Bainbridge, and Rick Hart. During the conference we first heard Cheryl Marie Wade read her jazzy version of “Disability Rap” and perform Sassy Girl: Memoirs of a Poster Child Gone Awry. The Irish performance artist Mary Duffy staged her memorable one-­ woman act as a nude Venus de Milo in front of a black plastic garbage bag background in a basement somewhere in the bowels of the Rackham building .Bob DeFelice and JuliaTrahan’s comedic routines turned disability dead ends into entertaining cultural commentary at a local café on State Street. Carrie Sandahl acted out her medical history in a white lab coat and sweat pants artistically covered with red magic marker to replicate the surgical incisions and social woundings that traversed her disability life. Ann Finger read her imaginative rendition of a meeting between two disability icons in her short story “Helen and Frida” atop the Graduate School with the wind blowing her beige tunic-­like top wildly. Eli Clare breathed life into the tremors and stammers of CP in her poem, “Learning to Speak.” We love all of these people and remain heartened by the essential contributions to disability studies and arts that they have gone on to make from this brief moment when our lives and bodies all intersected. Similarly we teamed up with the inimical Rosemarie Garland Thomson in order to vent our frustrations at having disability studies sessions rejected, year after year, by the Modern Languages Association Convention Program Selection Committee. Our late-­ night phone calls turned into a petitioning of the MLA office in New York, then headed by Phyllis Franklin, to give us a discussion panel from which we might gauge organizational interest in the field. Dozens of people came to that first session in 1994 and signed forms of interest on behalf of the establishment of a formal Discussion Group that would hold a panel devoted to disability studies in the humanities. The original committee, auspiciously titled The Standing Committee on the Status of Disability in the Profession, included some of the most central thinkers in the burgeoning field: Georgina Kleege, Ellen Steckert, Lois Bragg, Rosemarie Garland Thomson, Nancy Mairs, Simi Linton, Brenda Brueggemann, Lennard Davis, and ourselves. In exchange for writing acces- Acknowledgments ix sibility copy for the program we hosted one special session that ultimately grew into today’s Division...


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