Extraordinary Bodies: Figuring Physical Disability in American Culture and Literature

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Columbia University Press, 1997 - Social Science - 200 pages
As the first major critical study to examine literary and cultural representations of physical disability, Extraordinary Bodies situates disability as a social construction, shifting it from a property of bodies to a product of cultural rules about what bodies should be or do. Rosemarie Garland Thomson examines disabled figures in sentimental novels such as Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin and Rebecca Harding Davis's Life in the Iron Mills, African-American novels by Toni Morrison and Audre Lorde, and the popular cultural ritual of the freak show.
Extraordinary Bodies inaugurates a new field of disability studies in the humanities by framing disability as a minority discourse, rather than a medical one, ultimately revising oppressive narratives of disability and revealing liberatory ones.
 

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In Extraordinary Bodies: Figuring Physical Disability in American Culture and Literature, Rosemarie Garland Thomson works to “alter the terms and expand our understanding of the cultural construction ... Read full review

Contents

Disability Identity and Representation An Introduction
5
Theorizing Disability
19
CONSTRUCTING DISABLED FIGURES CULTURAL AND LITERARY SITES
53
The Cultural Work of American Freak Shows 18351940
55
Benevolent Maternalism and the Disabled Women in Stowe Davis and Phelps
81
Disabled Women as Powerful Women in Petry Morrison and Lorde
103
From Pathology to Identity
135
Notes
139
Bibliography
173
Index
191
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About the author (1997)

Rosemarie Garland-Thomson is Professor of English at Emory University, where her fields of study are disability studies, American literature and culture, feminist theory, and bioethics. Her work develops the field of critical disability studies in the health humanities, broadly understood, to bring forward disability access, inclusion and identity to communities inside and outside of the academy. She is the author of Staring: How We Look and the editor of Freakery: Cultural Spectacles of the Extraordinary Body.

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