Brueggemann, Brenda Jo. “‘Writing Insight’: Deafness and Autobiography.” American Quarterly 52, no. 2 (2000): 316-21.
This article addresses deaf writers—or specifically, how deaf authors adapt to written English—and questions the reasoning behind our perception of deafness. Brueggmann argues that the very idea of deaf writing pushes the boundaries of the perceived limitations of language. “Deaf writing undoes,” she says (316). The article examines the nature of written language in relation to spoken language and the ways in which deaf writers must adapt to it.
Collins, Terry, Marj Schnieder, and Sue Kroeger. “(Dis)Abling Images.” The Radical Teacher, no. 47 (1995): 11-14.
This article explores the experiences of these teachers at the University of Minnesota in their class on disability in American literature, film, and media. The work addresses society’s definition of normalcy and disability in terms of power and powerless. The importance of these images, it argues, is that media shapes the thoughts of culture—and the ways in which we represent disability in media impacts the ways in which society treats the disabled.
Couser, G. Thomas. “Disability, Life Narrative, and Representation.” PLMA 120, no. 2 (2005): 602-06.
“Disability is an inescapable element of human existence and experience. Although it is rarely acknowledged as such, it is also a fundamental aspect of human diversity” (602). I knew I was in for a ride after the first few sentences. The article immediately puts disability in terms of a cultural group—defining disability as the largest minority in the United States (according to the US Census Bureau)—instead of defining it in terms of ability or what qualifies humanness. He argues that the disabled community is more diverse than any race, gender, class, or sexual orientation. He addresses a spectrum of visible to invisible disabilities and how they affect us, e.g. mobility, mental, etc. He argues that disability is hyper-represented but almost exclusively by non-disabled creators.
Eisenhauer, Jennifer. “Just Looking and Staring Back: Challenging Ableism through Disability Performance Art.” Studies in Art Education 49, no. 1 (2007): 7–22.
Jennifer Eisenhauer details the ways in which art education has advanced to the degree that it has begun to incorporate affirmative models of disability theories into its curricula and educational philosophies. The affirmative model framework “[d]irectly challenges presumptions of personal tragedy and the determination of identity through the value-laden presumptions of non-disabled people” (8), countering previous models which placed burden and blame upon the perceived (often moral) failings of people with disabilities, and, instead, demands that disability culture ought to be developed, determined, and defined by disabled communities themselves. The Disability Arts Movement has emerged from such ideological shifts and disability artists take part in, develop and create art which actively engages, critiques, and destabilizes hegemonic ableist ideas of disability, embracing their disabilities rather than viewing them as something to overcome.
Erb, Cynthia M. “‘Have You Ever Seen the Inside of One of Those Places?’: Psycho, Foucault, and the Postwar Context of Madness.” Cinema Journal 45, no. 4 (2006): 45-63.
Erb in this article compares Psycho to historical views of madness, starting with the middle ages and going all the way to modern times. Focusing more heavily on the 1950s and the era of deinstitutionalization (which took place after many magazines and newspapers exposed the horrible conditions that patients in psychiatric hospitals were forced through). Once these unsafe hospitals were shut down, the patients within were left with no alternative place to go. Rather than sparking sympathy from the American people, a quiet fear began to grow. Taking advantage of this fear, Hollywood quickly began to create films about evil and deranged mentally ill people ready to trick you into thinking they were normal before murdering you and your family. Schizophrenia became the most popular disorder used in these films. Erb discusses how around this time Hitchcock was working on making films which explored the different ways one could make madness the center or a story, creating films with mad characters out to get the normal people in the narrative. His most famous by far: Psycho is perhaps the most influential on how people saw mental illness, and see it even to this day.
Finger, Anne. Past Due: A Story of Disability, Pregnancy and Birth. Seattle: Seal Press, 1990.
This book is a powerful autobiographic story of Anne Finger’s traumatic childbirth, her baby born with brain damage, her disability, and pregnancy’s impact on her and her disability. Her story is full of intersection—as a woman, mother, feminist, and in her relation to her mother’s faith.
Gottschalk, Simon. “Videology: Video-Games as Postmodern Sites/Sights of Ideological Reproduction.” Symbolic Interaction 18, no. 1 (1995): 1-18.
Gottschalk in this article discusses the importance of video games in the lives of today’s youth culture. Written in 1995, Gottschalk focuses on arcades when discussing the society of video games. The first principle of video games is their ability to take the player into a new place of reality. Whilst films and television attempt to do this, video games put the story and the action in the hands of the player. Every experience is different. A movie will always be the same no matter how many times it is played, a video game will almost never be the same twice. A new enemy will be the one to kill the player. A new move combo will be the one used to defeat the boss. Everything is up to the player and in this way, the player is transported more effectively than through any other medium. What is presented in the game is, even for one moment, real. Gottschalk also states that in video games the Other is violent. The world is trying to kill the player. The non-playable characters are trying to kill the player. The world of video games is full of enemies which Gottschalk considers Other. Gottschalk concludes that video games not only reinforce socially held beliefs, but also perpetuate a new sense of right and wrong by creating worlds in which everyone and everything is out to get you.
Iezzoni, Lisa I. “Disability: The Reluctant Identity.” Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law 25, no. 6 (2000): 1157-67.
In this article, Iezzoni first points out how broad the term disability is when trying to label a group of people. Disabled people cannot be easily picked out of a line up in many cases. Disability can be anything from chronic illness to sudden accident. There is a huge spectrum of disability and therefore trying to classify it is a challenge in and of itself. Iezzoni concludes that disability can be outlined as thoughts who need help in their day to day lives, whether that be medication, prosthetics, or any number of additions built to make life livable. Iezzoni also points out that what counts as a disability is almost always want to change. What is given medical legitimacy changes drastically from decade to decade and therefore the definition must continue to grow with it. Perhaps most interestingly, Iezzoni discusses how people with disabilities often possess the same rhetoric when describing their own situation. They state that others might have it worse, or that they’re trying to live independently, or that they don’t want to feel like a burden to others. For many, the concept of being disabled is not something to have pride in or even something to discuss openly about. Iezzoni concludes that society as a whole still sees disability as something personal and not something to embrace.
Kuppers, Petra. “The Wheelchair’s Rhetoric: The Performance of Disability.” TDR 51, no. 4 (2007): 80–88.
Drawing from personal experience as well as media analysis, Kuppers analyzes the use of the wheelchair as a tool of visual rhetoric in 2007. Her in-depth exploration of the use of the wheelchair as cultural object featured predominately in the performances of the documentary film Murderball, the live theatre performance of Guillermo Gomez-Pena’s The Museum of Fetishized Identities, and the first two X-Men films, shows the vast differences conjured by the wheelchair as a signifier.
Larsen, Robin, and Beth A. Haller. “The Case of Freaks: Public Reception of Real Disability.” The Case of Freaks: Public Reception of Real Disability 29, no. 4 (2002): n. pag.
This article discusses the ban on the movie “Freaks” (1934) and how that ties into people’s perceptions of disability and the visibility of disabled peoples in media. Though we understand and recognize that sideshows in the early days of film entertainment were exploitative, we can also see how they were able to give a sort of early visibility to those with disabilities, exposing them to the populace when they otherwise would not be.
Lund, Roger D. “Laughing at Cripples: Ridicule, Deformity and the Argument from Design.” Eighteenth-Century Studies 39, no. 1 (2005): 91-114.
In this article, Lund covers an expansive history of beauty theory and humor, examining how deformities have seemingly always been a source of humor and ridicule. Because philosophers have always asked questions about love, morality, and beauty, these things have often been tied together as though they all equate one another. Lund points out the dangers of equating beauty with goodness, mentioning multiple works which state that the holy and the good are reflected in the physical, which therefore means that the deformed are those abandoned by god and without goodness. The scholar Ibn Sina was one such philosopher who wrote a treaty on love in which he stated that love was only what an organisms best possible function was. A tulip being its best tulip self was love. By this definition, a person could only love someone beautiful, for someone ugly was not being their best human self and therefore was not capable of loving or being loved. For Ibn Sina, the old, the deformed, the sick, the ugly were not good, were not moral, and were unlovable. Definitions such as this have never been rare in the world. It is because of things like this that so often disabled people are the butt of jokes, and have been for hundreds of years. Because they are seen as so Other, they are an easy target and one that will rarely fight back, because the power of the jokes also doubles as a tool to make those whom it is against feel powerless as well as ashamed.
Maia, Rousiley C. M., and Ana Carolina Vimieiro. “Recognition and Moral Progress.” Recognition and the Media (n.d.): n. pag.
This article talks about the morality of portraying people with disabilities in media. It states that those who make films and television shows who choose to portray those with disabilities have a sort of moral obligation to do so accurately, so as not to warp the publics perceptions of the disabilities and the people who have them.
Makas, Elaine. “Changing Channels: The Portrayal of People with Disabilities on Television.” Children & Television: Images in a Changing Sociocultural World (n.d.): 255-68.
This article discusses the portrayal of people with disabilities on television specifically in children’s television, specifically discussing the importance of accurate portrayal of disabilities in children’s media so that children can become exposed to different sorts of people – it argues that if exposure takes place at an early age, it will be easier to integrate acceptance and a greater deal of understanding when explaining disabilities to children when they are older.
Margolis, Howard, and Arthur Shapiro. “Countering Negative Images of Disability in Classical Literature.” English Journal 76, no. 3 (1987): 18-22. doi:10.2307/818530.
As the title suggests, this article deals with representations of disability in classical literature. Its fundamental argument is that “[c]lassical literature transmits values” (18). In other words, to some extent, society is founded on principles and morals as presented through literature. The stories we tell our children interact with not only how they see others but how they see themselves. The article addresses some heavy-hitting questions, like whether characters in novels represent people or literary devices. It investigates a plethora of works and uncovers prominent stereotypes of the disabled—Richard III, Quasimodo, Tiny Tim, etc. It examines these characters in how they interact with the world around them.
Morris, Jenny. “Feminism and Disability.” Feminist Review, no. 43 (1993): 57–70.
Morris’s critique of feminism in relation to disability confronts central disparities which many non-disabled feminists had previously not adequately addressed. In order to do so, Morris argues, non-disabled women must acknowledge their own immersion in cultural bias towards women with disabilities. By incorporating the actual lived, subjective experiences of women who have disabilities and acknowledging the power derived from their experiences, Morris disrupts normative ableist notions, revealing the problems inherent in such ideologies. Additionally, Morris addresses the common misperception and misrepresentation of women who have disabilities as being doubly disadvantaged, and how this concept has been used by non-disabled people to shift blame away from cultures of domination and onto women with disabilities themselves.
Reynolds, Loni. “‘The Mad Ones’ and the ‘Geeks.'” Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies 9, no. 2 (2015): 153-70.
This journal talks about a couple of works by authors Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. Reynolds discusses how both Ginsberg and Kerouac use disability as a way to both connect to their characters throughout their writing and also use it as a way to “other” and demonize certain characters who are supposed to be “bad.”
Rider, Elizabeth. “Media Portrayals of People with Handicaps: Does Accuracy Matter?” Studies in Popular Culture 16, no. 2 (1994): 85-93.
Rider begins by comparing the media portrayal of the disabled in the 1950s to that of the 1970s. In the 1970s, she states, though television shows did have disabled characters, they were often shown to be submissive, dominated by their disability, their lives totally revolving around their disability, their entire character boiled down to their disability, the butt of jokes, often ridiculed, and dependent on others. Rider mentions a study with 200 people who were asked about popular movies and television shows with disabled regular or main characters. Despite these shows and films possessing all of the aforementioned traits, over half of the participants stated that these were positive portrayals of disability. Rider mentions the trope in many of these types of media to have the “super-gimp” a disabled character able to do incredible things despite or even because of their disability. While this trope might seem positive, it is overall hurtful, for is puts disabled people in a position where if they are not superhuman, then they are dependent and worthless, with no space in-between.
Rutten, Kris, Griet Roets, Ronald Soetaert, and Rudi Roose. “The Rhetoric of Disability: A Dramatistic-narrative Analysis Of One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” Critical Arts 26, no. 5 (2012): 631-47.
This article is a rhetorical analysis of the work of Kenneth Burke in relation to the dramatism of disability being a valid way to portray it and the rhetorical depiction of mental illness in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. It is a scholarly text to accompany the viewing of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s nest to help further explain and rationalize some of the decisions that the filmmakers made when creating their characters with mental disabilities.
Safran, S. P. “The First Century of Disability Portrayal in Film: An Analysis of the Literature.” The Journal of Special Education 31, no. 4 (1998): 467-79.
This article talks about portrayals of disability within the first century of film, discussing a lot of works from the early 20th century. It mentions the fact that in the early days of these portrayals, psychiatric disorders were the most commonly depicted by far. Physical disabilities were not portrayed as often because there was a greater deal of understanding or perceived understanding around mental institutions and addictions. It is a great historical resource when talking about disability in film.
Shapiro, Arthur, et al. “The Vocabulary of Disability: Critical Reading and Handicapism.” High School Journal 73, no. 2 (1989): 86–91.
Shapiro, Margolis, and Anderson discuss how language has been used as a tool to reinforce hegemonic ideals concerning disability in 1989 America. In order to critically read and understand such concepts, the team recommends that educators teach their students the important skills necessary to analyze texts. They consider the many implicit biases imbedded in common phrases and everyday language used in reference to people with disabilities and how such language serves to support ableist (or handicapist) ideology.
Siebers, Tobin. “Disability as Masquerade.” Literature and Medicine 23, no. 1 (2004): 1-22.
Siebers uses the phrase “come out as disabled” to describe how those with disabilities that are not immediately visible feel when admitting to their own disability. It is like revealing a deep secret about oneself and acknowledging that one is different from most other people in their own society. It is like becoming an outsider. The phrase “To pass or not to pass.” is also used and once again describes this fear of outing oneself as being disabled. With invisible disability, one has the option to pretend and hide away what might be seen as a problem to others. On the flip-side of this Siebers also discusses pretending to be more disabled than one is in actuality in order to gain sympathy or not have to argue with those who don’t think one is disabled enough. The rest of this article goes into detail about what the masquerade (a phrase borrowed from feminist and queer theory) really is. Whether or not it can work both ways (both in pretending something does not exist or pretending that it exists more strongly than it does in truth) is debated throughout this article as is the use of the masquerade as a sort of communication between members of the same group.