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The Disability Studies Reader

4 Comments 14 October 2010

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  1. Eileen Galen says:

    Review by Eileen Galen for The Disability Studies Reader
    This is a purposeful and strong collection of essays, fiction, and poetry that serves to illuminate a comparatively new (although long in coming) and vibrant discipline, Disability Studies, which, according to editor (and contributor) Dr. Lennard Davis, “is both an academic field of inquiry and an area of political activity.” Davis has written an elegant introduction that is ideological – with good reason. He provides an overview and defines the field and its terms. Davis cites many of the developers and ‘early’ thinkers (ancient times to the present) of disability studies and, in summary, asserts that Disability Studies is not about “sensitizing” “normal” persons. Disability Studies is, rather, “in favor of advocacy, investigation, inquiry, archeology, genealogy, dialectic, and deconstruction.” The book (which does not have to be read in any particular order) is divided into seven main sections: “Historical Perspectives,” “Politics of Disability,” “Stigma and Illness,” “Gender and Disability,” “Disability and Education,” “Disability and Culture,” and finally a small section of fiction and poetry.Davis’ “Constructing Normalcy” appears first, appropriately so, for in my view it’s really required reading. There is a generous selection of essays on Deafness and Deaf culture. (Davis himself grew up as the child of Deaf parents). Some of my favorite essays: Harlan Hahn’s “Advertising the Acceptably Employable Image,” on the relationship between capitalism and disability; Susan Wendell’s deeply personal and thoughtful “Toward a Feminist Theory of Disability,” in which she points out, “When you listen to this culture in a disabled body, you hear how often health and physical vigor are talked about as if they were moral virtues.” Susan Sontag writes on AIDS and metaphor. “Blindness and Art” by Nicholas Mirzoeff is complex, difficult, and worth the effort. In addition there are a number of incredibly powerful historical discussions.This is a terrific textbook – for it contains a wealth of material that is challenging and engaging. Readers interested in this field and its ideas will be pleased. As a reference work it’ll doubtless be useful for many years. It’s solid and complex, and definitely worth reading.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Review by for The Disability Studies Reader
    The most priceless part of this book– is the material he adds to the story of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s polio disability & his closetry about it. Like “Washington became a ramped city….” Like reporting that any press photographers who took pix of FDR being carried (suchas- to get into his car) had their film “confiscated” and destroyed by the Secret Service. Someday some innovative historian will note that as a person with a disability– FDR was himself within the scope of the groups that the Nazis scapegoated & killed. (In the mid 1930’s, they killed every disabled person in every custodial institution in Germany.) Thus, FDR was the hero in fighting a war that was– in part– a defense of his own kind.And he felt he had to hide that fact, I’m looking forward to the upcoming “From Charity To Confrontation: A History Of The Modern Disabled Rights Movement” by Fleisher (sp?) & Zames, from Temple Univ. Press. Freida Zames has been a disabled activist for decades. Her book should blow away the few similar titles.

  3. Sue says:

    Review by Sue for The Disability Studies Reader
    Excellent variety of articles on disability. Good compliment to classroom discussions. Very enlightening.

  4. Jose A. Gonzalez says:

    Review by Jose A. Gonzalez for The Disability Studies Reader
    I just got the book for a disability studies class. Book was in excellent conditions. However, this book is complicated and boring to read.

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