Tag: Disability

Civil War Disability in the Light and the Dark: An Interview with Sarah Handley-Cousins

Sarah Handley-Cousins argues in her new book, Bodies in Blue: Disability in the Civil War North, that the bodies of disabled Union soldiers and veterans “were sites of powerful cultural beliefs about duty, honor, and sacrifice,” yet those ideals became complicated with men who failed to perform the socially accepted role of wounded warrior. Her work… Read more →

Stop Depicting Technology As Redeeming Disabled People

About corn, fancy arms, and the narratives imposed upon me. About a year and half out from my amputation, I visited my local grocery store. I was looking at ears of corn, peeling back the husk a little to see if the corn inside was a winner. Someone sidled up to me, and leaned in…. Read more →

“The Joy of My Life”: Seeing-Eye Dogs, Disabled Veterans/Civilians and WWI

On December 13, 1933, Captain A. J. C. Sington, then Chairman of the British Guide Dogs for the Blind, read a letter from an unnamed veteran of the Great War to the Northern Counties Association for the Blind. In the letter, the veteran described his life before and after receiving his guide dog: The unnamed… Read more →

The Angel of the Workhouse: The Body, and the Body Politic, of Victorian Women with Disabilities

On September 12, 1846, a poet-prince married a “rather plain, thin, faded, hysterical woman [who] was loved for herself as perhaps none of all the world’s famous beauties has ever been.” Perhaps that rather dramatic description is not an entirely fair account of the elopement of Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett, but their readers’ continued… Read more →

From Mooktie to Juan: The Eugenic Origins of the “Defective Immigrant”

On a Monday in November 1905, a “little deaf and dumb … 10-year old Eurasian girl” called Mooktie Wood arrived in the US on the steamship Canopic. An orphan with no known relatives, Mooktie had been “picked up” by an American Pentecostal missionary, Lillian Sprague, in the wake of one of the many devastating famines… Read more →

It’s (Not) in Your Head: When Bodies Defy Logic

“If you say too little they can’t help you, and if they say too much they think you’re kind of … a mental patient.” Less than five minutes into Jennifer Brea’s stunning new documentary, Unrest, her husband captures this central tension for people with rare or undiagnosed conditions and their loved ones. Brea has myalgic… Read more →

My Experiences with Auto-Immunity and Why I Dislike the Term “Able-Bodied”

I dislike the term “able-bodied.” I see this term used frequently in academic and activist scholarship, as well as everyday language, often without giving the term its due scrutiny. As an academic who studies structural inequalities based on race, gender, and disability, I find that it assumes a binary system structured on ableist ideas. It… Read more →

Face to Face with Sharrona Pearl

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Sharrona Pearl about her new book, Face/On: Transplants and the Ethics of the Other. Below are excerpts from our conversation, which ranged from disability, to artistry, to parenting, to sex transitions, all illuminated by Sharrona’s insights from the history and culture of face transplants. Lara: I really… Read more →

Care Gone Wrong: Bad Moms, Fake Disabilities, and Imagined Illnesses

At first, it seemed impossible that Gypsy Rose Blancharde had murdered her mother. Dee Dee appeared to be her daughter’s most outspoken advocate. She was the strong and devoted caregiver that Gypsy Rose, who appeared far younger than her 23 years and spoke in a Minnie Mouse squeak, required. Or so it seemed. Dee Dee… Read more →

Finding My Amputee Brethren

I remember vividly the first amputee I met after my amputation. Driving down with my spouse to Wake Forest from our small college town so that I could get more chemo, we were at a rest stop. I had only recently received my first “test” leg and hobbled along, with atrophied muscles from months of… Read more →