DSQ > Fall 2008, Volume 28, No.4

Since its first publications in 2000, The University of Michigan Press' Corporealities series continues to break ground in the field of disability studies. The series aims to "identify the social phantasms that have been projected upon disabled subjects in history…to theorize the shifting coordinates of disabled identities" (http://www.press.umich.edu/series.do?id=UM117). Like much of the work done in and by disability studies, the series as a whole refuses medical models that pathologize non-normative bodies; instead, it encourages work that defines and emphasizes social models of disability. Authors and editors of current texts represent multiple fields of study at various stages in their careers. Reflecting the current status of disability studies in general, however, most of their fields are related to the humanities, and all of the series editors and editorial board members are in the humanities. The books themselves represent, within these bounds, a variety of studies and collections.

As graduate students, we have found the Corporealities series of tremendous value in both our own work and our teaching. In this review, we hope to provide an overview of the texts by placing them into three categories of our own definition: life writing, theory, and history. Breaking them up in this way allows us to show connections between the texts, suggest where and how each can be useful for study and pedagogy, and point to gaps in disability studies as it currently exists.

We believe two texts fall into the realm of life writing, broadly construed. The first is Simi Linton's My Body Politic: A Memoir (2006), and the second is Susan Crutchfield and Marcy Epstein's edited collection Points of Contact: Disability, Art, and Culture (2000). Each demonstrates autobiographical writing about disability, and varies in its engagement with tropes of overcoming as well as with narrative form, content, tone, and impact. These texts have the possibility of appealing to a wide variety of readers, and could be useful in multiple settings.

Linton's My Body Politic tells the story of becoming disabled, a process that began with a car accident but continues still today through political activism. She undermines traditional conventions of memoir as telling just one person's story by highlighting interdependency and a holistic representation in covering forty years worth of experiences. She wrestles with such topics as having to change her profession, not because of her disability, but because of who her disability makes her into. This book is a quintessential memoir on many levels. Told chronologically, the paralysis-inducing accident is discussed in the first paragraph, and a kind of relentless quality of hope/overcoming follows throughout the rest of text. In many ways, the book is a typical disability positive memoir: post-accident she visits Paris once again! Like much of Linton's other texts, her memoir is easily digested, but this book seems to be written for normates. We think people with disabilities and allies alike will grow tired of the sun-shiny (re)presentation of disabled life in the United States.

Reading this in an undergraduate classroom would be a useful introduction to both the conventions of memoir and the usefulness of an overcoming story behind which people will rally. Because of the focus on a narrative of overcoming, this would be a very dangerous text if it were read in isolation. Reading it against different kinds of life writing would be the most utilitarian use of the book or selections from it: showing it against memoirs in other formats (film, music) or against other memoirs of folks with disabilities (Autobiography of a Face or Gary In Your Pocket) will produce a more nuanced understanding of the role of the shining happy memoir. Because of Linton's extensive experiences with political action, the text could work within Political Science, Peace Studies, and History departments as an example of the ways in which identity and practice are linked.

In contrast to Linton's single authored and cheery work, Crutchfield and Epstein's Points of Contact is a broadly selected collection of creative primary works—from poetry to memoir to fiction to cultural commentary, in varying emotional tones—that gives readers the kind of insight into disability that one could argue is requisite for understanding nearly every other text in the series. In this way, it is a kind of cornerstone for the series at large, particularly since Crutchfield and Epstein culled their material from as many fields and frameworks as possible to create this dynamic and foundational text in the series. Investigating intersections "among disability cultures as these emerge as well as those between disability culture and the status quo," Points of Contact serves as "an assessment of disability as an aesthetic, political, and cultural idea." It accomplishes this by exploring multiple perspectives on disability—in first and third person, sympathetic and cynical tones, from artistic to familial to philosophical points of view.

Perhaps the greatest triumph of this book is its range of genres, styles and voices: everyone will find something to enjoy and be provoked by in this book. The pervasive presence of disability in everyday life is demonstrated by the range of contributors to the collection: here are family members, philosophers, artist-activists, scholars, parents, and renowned poets, each impacted by disability as an experience both personal and cultural. Consequently, Points of Contact would be an especially worthwhile addition to an introductory course in disability studies, since students are likely to encounter something that piques their interest and drives them toward further reading and thinking about disability in one of the field's many facets reflected in the collection.

While My Body Politic and Points of Contact are legible to wide audiences, texts that we have chosen to call theory require a more academic readership. They are more likely to be useful in a classroom or as resources for research, and less likely to be picked up at random in a bookstore by someone unfamiliar with disability studies. At the same time, these texts share with the autobiographical texts a certain accessibility to a wider audience. Because they are creating new approaches to and knowledge about disability that counters current norms, they must be able to clearly explain themselves and how they come to their conclusions. The sorts of support they provide for their claims, the resources they use as evidence, and the ways in which these texts can be used, frequently work to make these texts both theoretical and understandable. In this group, we include Tobin Siebers' Disability Theory (2008), Shelly Tremain's edited collection Foucault and the Government of Disability (2005), Bradley Lewis' Moving Beyond Prozac, DSM, and the New Psychiatry: The Birth of Postpsychiatry (2006), David Mitchell and Sharon Snyder's Narrative Prosthesis: Disability and the Dependencies of Discourse (2001), Martha Stoddard Holmes' Fictions of Affliction: Physical Disability in Victorian Culture (2004), Carrie Sandahl and Philip Auslander's edited collection Bodies in Commotion: Disability and Performance (2006), and Michael Davidson's Concerto for the Left Hand (2008).

Siebers' Disability Theory provides the most explicit example of theorizing disability. Building on work from other texts in the Corporealities series and a wide range of other work, Siebers seriously engages the state of disability studies today. He focuses on the com medical model and social models of disability, but also tackles newer and finer points of tension and complicated issues in contemporary disability studies theories. Most of the chapters have appeared elsewhere in other forms, but have been edited and organized to work together cohesively as a book. After the introduction, Siebers addresses what we might construe as three broad groups of issues: 1) disability in law and legal issues around persons with disabilities; 2) identity theory, politics, and their relations to disability experiences; and 3) disability and its relationships with sexuality. No one chapter deals with any of these issues exclusively: each chapter has a major theme, but brings in issues and evidence from other areas to create thought-provoking observations and arguments.

In spite of an occasionally complicated writing style, this text would be useful in a variety of scholarly settings. Because of Siebers' wide range of sources and topics, the introduction could provide an excellent overview of disability studies in an undergraduate classroom. Chapters could also be used individually or in small groups to address concepts and issues studied in English, Gender Studies, or Humanities courses on Law. The text as a whole could serve as a way of framing an introduction to Disability Studies course, or as one text among others to give one perspective on the state of the field and where it needs to go.

Tremain's edited collection Foucault and the Government of Disability begins with Foucault's declaration that "My point is not that everything is bad, but that everything is dangerous." This simple phrase welcomes readers to a much-needed application of Michel Foucault's work to the world of disability theory. For those who take Foucault seriously, even this text is dangerous. The book is divided into four sections, each with their own themed application of Foucault's work: Epistemologies and Ontologies, Histories, Governmentalities, and Ethics and Politics.

Epistemologies and Ontologies is the largest section of the book and contains six articles from disability scholars in sociology, philosophy, psychology, and education to make use of Foucault's work on docile bodies, bio-power and normalization. The book's second section, entitled Histories, addresses power relations, lived realities, communities, and normalization in its various essays. The chapters in the Governmentalities section attack seemingly innocent sites as dangerously normalizing, creating the "normal" and "abnormal." The remaining two essays make up the concluding section on Ethics and Politics. This section utilizes Foucault's work to address ethical practice and the naturalizing power of apparatuses.

Foucault and the Government of Disability is a useful, critical text that finally answers the hail: where is all the Foucault in disability scholarship? Most of Foucault's critical interventions have been applied to most of the important issues within disability theory and the interdisciplinary, international approach is complemented by the mixed methodologies employed by the authors. We suggest that readers come to this text with a familiarity with Foucault. In terms of accessibility, the text could be improved with the inclusion of a Foucault glossary that would lay out the major terms and locations within his texts for the purpose of cross-referencing. The application-focus within many of the texts works to counter-act the heavy theoretical feel of the concepts being discussed. While this is indeed the first book exclusively demonstrating the application of Foucault to disability, it is not the end-all nor is it innocent. Foucault's work is notoriously tricky lending itself to (re)readings and (mis)readings, sometimes seeming intentionally contradictory. Given that he said it, we are led to believe that the "everything" in "everything is dangerous" includes him, his work, and like this book, the work based his work.

Lewis' Moving Beyond Prozac creates a dangerous space within psychiatry by bringing together research in the humanities and psychiatric medicine to propose what he dubs "postpsychiatry," in contrast to contemporary "new psychiatry." As both a medical doctor and humanities PhD, Lewis occupies a position of dual authority and is uniquely situated to critique current psychiatry and suggest improvements. Lewis' postpsychiatry is a disability studies perspective on mental illness and a critique of contemporary paradigms of mental illness. He refuses both strict social constructivism (i.e Szasz) and the idea that biomedical models always are diagnostically relevant or useful. Lewis proposes that mental illness does exist as a bodily state, but that what we do with it and how we treat it are social factors that have huge impact. By refusing what he refers to as the "science wars" over relativism and realism, Lewis rejects the premise of these disagreements and insists on a "theoretical third way" that is very much needed for the study of mental illness, and is also useful to disability studies in general. Using the last chapters to imagine alternate ways of approaching, diagnosing, and treating mental illness, Lewis also intervenes in medical discourse around mental illness and provides possible new avenues for thinking about what it means to live with mental illness. This also offers possibilities for thinking about living with other disabilities, and new ways of interaction with medical professionals.

Readers of this text will benefit from being already familiar with contemporary psychiatric paradigms and its common critiques; at the same time, the cross- and multi-disciplinary nature of the text means that Lewis provides clear overviews and definitions of his terms, theories, and understandings of current debates. Upper-level undergraduates already familiar with disability studies could use this text to start understanding mental illness in disability studies terms. Psychiatry interns, medical students considering psychiatry as a field, and scholars in narrative medicine could all benefit from Lewis' suggestions about new directions for psychiatry. Disability studies scholars in general might also find Lewis' text a strong example of a critique of a medical model and ways of pointing out needed new directions.

Mitchell and Snyder's Narrative Prosthesis creates new directions in English studies of disability, proceeding on the assumption that disability is a fluid category that can be deployed in narratives and discourses of all kinds. With this in mind, the authors set out to scrutinize disability's particular role in literary discourse, in hopes of creating space for "poetical and narrative efforts that expand options for depicting disability experiences" beyond the almost unilaterally metaphorical role it has conventionally played in western literature. Mitchell and Snyder begin by outlining the metaphor of "narrative prosthesis"—the notion that disability in literature has historically existed in a primarily artificial relation to the "real" concerns of a text, and is rarely if ever engaged as such. Precisely because of this tendency and the pervasiveness of disability in literature, this book is a must-read for any responsible student of English literature.

Having established their controlling conceit, Mitchell and Snyder proceed to survey scholarly engagement with depictions of disability in western literature that acts as a backdrop against which they cast their readings of "canonical" texts featuring disabled protagonists, such as Richard III and Moby-Dick. They argue that disability plays an important role in initiating narrative by acting as a disruption of stasis—a marker of difference or unruliness that must be restored to equilibrium in order for the text to come to its requisite harmonious close. Mitchell and Snyder suggest Katherine Dunn's Geek Love as paving the way for more preferable portrayals of disability.

Narrative Prosthesis argues that the way disability functions and is represented in discourse has implications for the way disability is understood in the world at large. The text provides a cogent review of the western literary imagination of disability in hopes of opening new space for redemptive and positive portrayals in the future, as well as critical engagement with prior texts. This is a seminal text for disability studies in English, both for being one of the first of its kind and for so persuasively highlighting the strikingly singular role disability has played in most literature in the west. The titular theme of the book "refers to both the prevalence of disability representation and the myriad meanings ascribed to it," which suggests that disability is an intellectual mode contributing to the way people and circumstances are viewed. Furthermore, this implies that disability's status as prosthetic means it is open to shifting meanings, locations, values and uses in different moments and contexts. In keeping with Mitchell and Snyder's stated goal of "mak[ing] narratives of disability a visceral language that significantly impacts our ability to imagine the lives of contemporary disabled populations," Narrative Prosthesis opens space for disability's meaning to shift and change as literary discourses continue to develop.

Martha Stoddard Holmes' Fictions of Affliction: Physical Disability in Victorian Culture (2004) explores "disability [as] melodramatic machinery [used as] a simple tool for cranking open feelings." She aims to "question, analyze, and disrupt the 'natural' connection between disability and feeling, recast it as naturalized rather than natural, and suggest some of the cultural work that produced it" (4). By doing so, Stoddard Holmes brings together histories of Victorian culture and disability studies, yielding a text that examines literature, medical texts, and testimonies of people with disabilities to critically consider representations of disability and their impact on their culture. Furthermore, she suggests that the extensive naturalization connecting melodrama and emotional narratives to disability originated during this time period. Stoddard Holmes establishes a new way to view the use of disability in literature and culture, specifically, Victorian literature and culture.

This text would be a useful supplement to any class already dealing with Victorian literature, medicine, or culture; individual studies might be used as disability oriented supplements to more traditionally framed analyses of her sources. The text can also provide an example of what a theoretical study of culture and literature might look like, and how literature and other historical documents can be used to create a picture of an historical culture.

Sandahl and Auslander's Bodies in Commotion is "the first collection to explore disability as performance across a wide range of meanings" of disability and performance (1). The essays in this text analyze various sites in both performance studies and disability studies; additionally, the essays offer ways of thinking about disability performance that are useful in regard to both specific disabilities and disability and performance theories in general. Bodies in Commotion, as neither purely disability studies or purely performance studies, pulls in important scholars from both fields to address significant intersections, challenges, and opportunities. The ideal audience for this text is one already conversant with both disability studies and performance theory. Individual essays introduce their topic and theories, but readers unfamiliar with the grounds of disability studies and canonical figures in performance studies will struggle to understand some essays. The section introductions work to give overviews of significant discourses, but obviously cannot function as introductions to all relevant background.

Though not as widely accessible as other texts from the press, this text would be useful for senior undergraduate seminars in interdisciplinary fields that have addressed disability and performance, or as a sort of second-tier introduction to thinking about the breadth of disability and performance issues. Graduate students will find familiar names as both authors and subjects of essays, and find use value in exemplary analyses and theories offered for understanding performance. More advanced scholars will find theoretical offerings valuable, and many are useful outside the bounds of the essays in which they are presented. Because this text is highly interdisciplinary, it is unlikely that the entire text would be useful outside a project specifically on disability and performance, but the material within seems to have the potential to offer "something for everyone" interested in at least one of the four key terms in the title.

Davidson's Concerto for the Left Hand participates in the continuing investigation of what insight and challenges disability—as a decidedly embodied experience—offers to our thinking about what it means to be a social creature, and more importantly, what it means to treat people justly. Davidson's part in that investigation has to do with the aesthetic—specifically, "returning the body to aesthetic" and "returning the aesthetic to issues of bodily impairment" in order to see what art and beauty might have to do with humanity and justice. "By emphasizing disability as a series of locations"—cultural, aesthetic, political, spatial, medical—"rather than a condition of medical diagnosis," Davidson aims "to complicate its presumed location in the body and, at the same time, question social constructionist views of disability as discursively produced." The arguments and analyses in Davidson's chapters are based on the idea that disability in all kinds of literary texts variously critiques cultural attitudes, masks prejudices, metaphorizes disability, and colludes with (or is made to collude with) other phenomena, especially issues of gender and sexuality, in order to contribute to a broader implied worldview. Some texts employ disability to point toward a more accessible and equitable world, while others create or maintain damaging misconceptions about disability that align it with weakness, repulsion, and other positions perceived as negative. Davidson draws forth the paradoxes and nuances of disability in aesthetics, since as much as the aesthetic "depends on a certain kind of body in order to transcend it…so it is revised when the photographer is blind, the poet is deaf, the pianist has one arm. The defamiliarization of the normate body is also the generative force in new cultural production."

Concerto takes on an impressive range of texts: Evgen Bavcar's photography, film noir and Hitchcock, contemporary film (Babel), and more. In this Davidson practices the preaching that says disability is a decidedly interdisciplinary field, and moreover, takes part in the blossoming effort to globalize disability studies. A kind of aesthetician of disability, Davidson broadens disability aesthetics' lens in its efforts to situate disability as a flexible category that can be employed to various ends in all sorts of discursive and aesthetic products across cultures—not to mention acting as an aesthetic category and criterion itself. This book will prove useful to theoreticians and those with some degree of familiarity with the categories, concepts and methodologies of disability studies. This text is also an important contribution to global disability studies, not least in the way it continues to push questions of embodiment on social justice, ethics, and aesthetics in the same way scholars like Tobin Siebers, David Mitchell and Sharon Snyder have begun and continue to do primarily with respect to western aesthetic and cultural production.

Like Concerto for the Left Hand, the other theoretical texts in the Corporealities series work to create knowledge and methodologies in and for disability studies while pushing at its current bounds. The historical texts in the Corporealities series, like the theoretical texts, assume an academic readership coming to a text for a particular reason. They are both more specific in their methodologies and assumptions about the world and more general in their content and structure than the theoretical texts. General historical overviews provide material useful for a variety of classrooms, while studies of specific groups or periods offer new ways of approaching histories. Even as these texts are beneficial to a wide academic audience, they demand the most of their readership: audiences not already familiar with the time period or group s being studied may find themselves wishing for guidance or background knowledge. This group of texts includes Henri-Jacques Stiker's The History of Disability (2000), Allen Thiher's Revels in Madness: Insanity in Medicine and Literature (2000), Martha L. Rose's The Staff of Oedipus: Transforming Disability in Ancient Greece (2003), Felicity Deutsch and Helen Nussbaum's edited collection "Defects": Engendering the Modern Body (2000), Carol Poore's Disability in Twentieth-Century German Culture (2007), David Gerber's Disabled Veterans in History (2000), and Linda Hamilton Krieger's edited collection Backlash Against the ADA: Reinterpreting Disability Rights (2003).

Stiker's The History of Disability aims to interrogate equality, or sameness, as Western society's most desired state, or proof of having accomplished humanity's best. The text's focus on Western cultures begins with the Bible and ends with various examples of 20th century legislation. He ultimately finds that societies do not actually integrate difference but rather use the language of integration while practicing partial or complete exclusion (192). The Epilogue section of the book leaves behind the former historical investigation and is dedicated to laying out practical prescriptions for change which include: persons with disabilities having access to non-institutional living environments, attending integrated schools, receiving vocational training, being able to use medical facilities specifically created for persons with disabilities, and having better employment opportunities because of government-funded programs to help businesses equip themselves for employees with disabilities (197).

Beyond this text being written for people interested in disability history, there is a right kind of historian for this text. The historian best suited to reading this text will be, first, interested in Western history and accepting of the lack of connection between Western histories and others being created simultaneously in other geographies, and second, familiar with the Christian Bible, Greek mythology, and the Middle Ages to compensate for Stiker's lack of dates and specified locations. Historians and nonhistorians alike will appreciate Stiker's efforts locate specific changes but visual learners will find the text's few graphs to be difficult to understand despite their basic appearance. It may be useful for persons teaching a course on the Bible to assign his chapter discussing that text because this information is not readily available in other sources; however, we do not find this book to be suitable for someone with a cursory knowledge of time periods, movements and geography. This text requires at least an intermediate understanding of the exemplar texts because neither their significance nor broad content is discussed. Even so, we find this thorough and relentlessly detailed account of both particular sources and critical responses to those sources to be extremely useful.

Thiher's Revels in Madness shares the need for an audience already familiar with the examined subject material. The take-away lesson from this text is what Thiher believes to be the recursive relationship between the experience of madness and discourses about it. In this sweeping history, Thiher fronts language—specifically, medical and literary language—as a (if not the) primary way people from ancient Greece to now have sought to conceptualize and understand madness. Not only have medical and literary discourses scrutinized, analyzed, and sought to define madness, but they have also continued to become a part of the experience of madness. As medical discourse, as it defines characteristics and behaviors that qualify as madness, and literary discourse, as it fixates on particular elements of madness, individuals' experiences of their own minds have shifted according to their proximity to these discourses and their preoccupations. In short, there is a kind of feedback loop between systems of thought and language on the one hand, and "madness itself" on the other, such that systems can influence pathology, and further, in certain cases, become pathological themselves.

For Thiher, whatever madness is, it consists of much more than the individual and self-contained human mind. His understanding of the mind is something "quite analogous to what the Greeks meant by logos: the transindividual milieu of language, reason, mathematics, and harmonious relations." In some ways one might be tempted to call Revels in Madness itself a milieu—of historical periods, literary figures, and schools of medical thought. It strives at every point for comprehensive coverage of western history. This text would serve well in a course on western intellectual history, but would perhaps need to be supplemented with other texts to address gender, race, class, and sexuality, which have played so crucial a role in historical, discursive, and "medical" determinations of madness. Readers should also be advised that the sheer density of this book calls for considerable familiarity with western history, especially of ancient Greece, eighteenth century medical theory, and German Romanticism.

In the same way that Thiher's text might be called a singular approach to Western discourses on madness in medicine and literature, Rose's The Staff of Oedipus suggests that hers is the only book length analysis of disability focused on Ancient Greece. Other scholars probably refused to touch the project because of the difficulty accessing primary sources upon which to build a book, and Rose's project does not escape the pitfalls of this problem. Nonetheless, Rose's focus is to "examine ancient Greek material through the lens of disability studies" (1). Her most passionately expressed point throughout the project is the need to avoid the urge to superimpose contemporary interpretations about disability onto Ancient Greece. However, wherever textual evidence is lacking in her project, Rose uses modern knowledge to bridge the gaps in her research. Rose purposes to dispel the existing myth that Ancient Greeks disposed of babies with disabilities and, most interestingly, connects the most disdained disability, muteness, to the Greek's high regard for speech as a social and intellectual indicator. In its treatment of Greek culture and disability, this text might prove useful in courses in history or disability studies. There is also the possibility of understanding The Staff of Oedipus as an example of how ancient cultures are often read through lenses of contemporary societies.

Deutsch and Nussbaum's "Defects" works, through a series of essays, to examine disability in the early modern and Enlightenment periods, and do so in a manner committed to disability studies principles like disability as socially influenced if not constructed, and bodies being contingent on their time, culture, and location. It also uses the idea of minority and oppressed communities as a model and intersection for thinking critically about disability as portrayed in historical literary texts. Focusing on the idea of "defect," as a culturally bound word, concept, and object, the essays in this text work together to demonstrate the influence of this concept on texts, people at the time of those texts, and (occasionally) contemporary notions of disability.

Scholars interested in gender, visual culture, historical literature and culture, and disability in literature and culture, will find valuable resources in this collection. Advanced knowledge of the subject material is not necessary, but the text does rely on the reader having some familiarity of it, and the ways that historical perspectives have shaped yet differ from today's world. This text could also provide a useful selection of theoretical perspectives on historical texts in an undergraduate literature class, or an example of re-reading disability into literature and history.

Carol Poore's Disability in Twentieth-Century German Culture shares the appeal of "Defects" for multiple audiences, bringing a text both highly specific and widely useful to the historical texts in the Corporealities series. As leading scholar on issues of disability and German culture, Poore is surely aware of the need to understand disability and German culture beyond the Nazi era without neglecting that important topic. This text excels at doing that, addressing the many disability issues in and around contemporary and historical Germany, often theorizing how disability and Germany have continued to develop as cultural concepts in relatively recent years in addition to addressing disability movements and rights.

This text obviously finds its most connected audience among people studying disability and Germany, but also has much to offer other areas. Disability studies scholars in general will find the material educational and thought-provoking, and Poore's text is an excellent example of how increased attention to international perspectives on disability can enrich disability studies in general. Historians looking for specific information on the cultural or even a particular part of the twentieth century in German history will find resources in this text, while life writing students and scholars could also use Poore's narrative of her own experience in thinking critically about what it means to write one's life in various textual and physical contexts. Classes engaged with discussions of disability and visual culture, or even more general studies of visual rhetoric and persuasion, will find Poore's discussions of Nazi images useful. Though the entire text would rarely be useful for a general undergraduate level class, there is much to be learned from this text as a whole.

Gerber focuses on historical people rather than culture at large in Disabled Veterans in History. The text begins by explaining that "there is no synthetic history of disabled veterans. This volume is the only historical collection on the subject" (1). Though Gerber may have been tempted to write down every history of every country's veterans, he limits the volume to "relatively affluent Western societies" and focuses on traditional, non-guerilla, warfare, armies and men (1). The essays are divided into three sections: Representation, Public Policy, and Living with Disability. In the first three essays, we find that society's conception of disabled veterans vary according to the historical period and war. Public policy traces pension systems for disabled veterans: how the political system affects the provision of disabled veterans, how the disabled are represented in the famous Army Medical Museum, and the increase in rehabilitation awareness and practice throughout the years. Written mostly by historians and ranging over centuries, Disabled Veterans in History travels over time and space: covering both world wars, Vietnam, the American Civil War and the French Revolution, the book reaches as far back as Ancient Greece. Although this book initially seems for historians, disability studies scholars, and public policy analysts alone, a scholar outside of these areas of academia could come to the book and reasonably access one essay to use it for film studies or an analysis on healthcare.

Linda Hamilton Krieger's edited collection Backlash Against the ADA shares concern with public policy about disability with its focus on the single most important piece of American legislation for people with disabilities, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The text's introduction describes the ADA as a beacon of hope in a depressing era (1970-1990) when progressive civil rights legislation was being slowly chipped away. The almost unanimous support for the ADA was particularly surprising, given that many supporters praised it in spite of having vetoed other progressive legislation such as the Family and Medical Leave Act and the Civil Rights Act. This incongruity was all the more shocking because the ADA was more powerful than previous acts, due to the language specifying structural, rather than formal, equality. Understood as a "second generation" of civil rights legislation, the structural equality focus was informed by the social model of disability. As such, the act required not only equal treatment but also accommodation for persons with disabilities.

As the title suggests, the ADA was headed for trouble in spite of tremendous congressional support. The Supreme Court was particularly embattled with congress over who should have control over citizens' lives—while congress had carefully crafted the ADA to protect persons with disabilities from discrimination, the Supreme Court handed down multiple decisions resulting in the erosion of the ADA's broad and inclusive intent. The questions of how and why this happened are taken up throughout this text by a wide range of interdisciplinary scholars covering such areas as the judicial response to the ADA, the regulatory role of mass media, and an interrogation of specific Supreme Court rulings.

The collection opens with a smart essay on accommodations that lays out a blueprint of the themes discussed throughout the text, while also making useful interventions around paternalism and the naturalization of nondisabled privilege in the public sphere. As a whole, Backlash Against the ADA examines not how the ADA changed society but rather how society changed the ADA, emphasizing the necessity of an educated public's support. Fleshing out the sticky negotiations between congressional law makers and judicial law interpreters is critical for future liberation strategies that must no longer hope that legislation will save us. This is the most comprehensive and inclusive collection on the cultural, legislative, and judicial responses to the ADA. Newer audiences may find youthful enthusiasm or naïveté challenged by the discriminations examined in this text, though it can also serve a class of resistant or disbelieving students as a starting point challenging the notion that everything is just fine. Additionally, the text as a whole could serve as useful for those interested in policy studies, though we suggest some familiarity with the intricacies of the legal system.

As these historically focused texts demonstrate, disability studies texts are working to rewrite disability directly into general academic discourse. At the same time, the Corporealities series is writing the history of disability studies as it increases its presence in academia. In creating a history for disability studies, the Corporealities series builds upon works like Paul Longmore's The New Disability History and Joseph Shapiro's No Pity to make disability not only a topic of study, but also a way of experiencing and approaching the world and its study. This in turn works to legitimize the field, to help give its members a sense of community and continuity, and to provide groundwork upon which future scholars can build. The existence of the Corporealities series also privileges the work that disability studies and disability scholars do, and demonstrates a space that other presses have yet to fill.

At the same time, however, there remains work to be done in fleshing out the sorts of disability studies represented in the series. Many open avenues for future publication remain. Texts that focus on intersections with other minority identities are not yet strongly represented. Race, gender, class, sexuality, non-white, and non-western perspectives on disability theory and experience are still lacking. As with the state of disability studies in general, disabilities construed as invisible are also largely absent from the collection. Yet the series as a whole claims an interest in a wide variety of texts that address disability as a social construct. The Corporealitites series is hugely beneficial to the humanities in that it makes a strong case that disability is not just a legitimate but a crucial object of study; the texts in this series begin to map out the theoretical, methodological, and contextual perimeters of disability studies and point the way for disability studies to further co-create scholarship in the humanities.

Works Reviewed

  • Crutchfield, Susan and Marcy Epstein, eds. Points of Contact: Disability, Art, and Culture. Ann Arbor, MI: The University of Michigan Press, 2000.
  • Davidson, Michael. Concerto for the Left Hand: Disability and the Defamiliar Body. Ann Arbor, MI: The University of Michigan Press, 2008.
  • Deutsch, Helen and Felicity Nussbaum, eds. "Defects": Engendering the Modern Body. Ann Arbor, MI: The University of Michigan Press, 2000.
  • Gerber, David A., ed. Disabled Veterans in History. Ann Arbor, MI: The University of Michigan Press, 2000.
  • Holmes, Martha Stoddard. Fictions of Affliction: Physical Disability in Victorian Culture. Ann Arbor, MI: The University of Michigan Press, 2004.
  • Krieger, Linda Hamilton. Backlash Against the ADA: Reinterpreting Disability Rights. Ann Arbor, MI: The University of Michigan Press, 2003.
  • Lewis, Bradles. Moving Beyond Prozac, DSM, and the New Psychiatry: The Birth of Postpsychiatry. Ann Arbor, MI: The University of Michigan Press, 2006.
  • Mitchell, David T. and Sharon L. Snyder. Narrative Prosthesis: Disability and the Dependencies of Discourse. Ann Arbor, MI: The University of Michigan Press, 2001.
  • Poore, Carol. Disability in Twentieth-Century German Culture. Ann Arbor, MI: The University of Michigan Press, 2007.
  • Rose, Martha L. The Staff of Oedipus: Transforming Disability in Ancient Greece. Ann Arbor, MI: The University of Michigan Press, 2003.
  • Sandahl, Carrie and Philip Auslander, eds. Bodies in Commotion: Disability and Performance. Ann Arbor, MI: The University of Michigan Press, 2005.
  • Siebers, Tobin. Disability Theory. Ann Arbor, MI: The University of Michigan Press, 2008.
  • Stiker, Henri-Jacques. A History of Disability. Ann Arbor, MI: The University of Michigan Press, 2000.
  • Thiher, Allen. Revels in Madness: Insanity in Medicine and Literature. Ann Arbor, MI: The University of Michigan Press, 2000.
  • Tremain, Shelley, ed. Foucault and the Government of Disability. Ann Arbor, MI: The University of Michigan Press, 2005.
Return to Top of Page