Tag: Disability

“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 →

No Excuses: The 21st-Century Supercrip in Three Snapshots

In the past decade, the landscape of commercial fitness has changed drastically. It has become less dependent on stationary exercise machinery, and instead emphasizes free weights. CrossFit gyms and obstacle course races (OCR) such as Tough Mudder and Spartan Race have become mainstream fitness options. Both CrossFit and OCR have a paramilitary ethos and randomized training…. Read more →

“Save Changes”: Telling Stories of Disability Protest

At first, it was a simple case of “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em,” as I worked with WikiEducation Foundation to teach a methods course in which students created disability history content. But the more I learned, the more it became clear that we were engaging in multiple forms of protest, especially once I… Read more →