We will still have class today. Please come prepared to briefly summarize what you learned about disability in the process of conducting your interview and writing your paper, as well as what you found most intriguing or puzzling.
Archive for January, 2013
1) Penny L. Richards and George H. S. Singer, “‘To Draw Out the Effort of His Mind’: Educating a Child with Mental Retardation in the Early Nineteenth-Century South,” Journal of Special Education 31, no. 4 (Winter 1998): ppp. 443-466 (Blackboard)
2) Alice R. Wexler, “Chorea and Community in a Nineteenth-Century Town,” Bulletin of the History of Medicine 76, no. 3 (Fall 2002): 495-527 (Blackboard)
Please answer one of the following questions:
1) Drawing on Richards & Singer and Wexler, how did family and/or community shape the lived experience(s) and social meaning of disability in antebellum America?
2) Alternatively, you can summarize in several sentences (or possibly a short paragraph each) your “muddiest point” for both readings. Muddiest points should engage with major themes in the readings. If your muddiest point focuses on what might seem to be a minor point, explain why it is a key issue for this topic in disability history.
1) Nielsen, A Disability History of the United States, pp. 40-65 and 75-77 (ch. 3, section on”Indigenous Nations and Communal Response” through ch. 4, section on “Race and (In)competent Citizenship,” plus ch. 4, section on “Citizenry and the New Nation”)
2) Dea H. Boster, “An ‘Epeleptick’ Bondswoman: Fits, Slavery, and Power in the Antebellum South,” Bulletin of the History of Medicine 83, no. 2 (Summer 2009): 271-301 (Blackboard)
3) Excerpts from Simon P. Newman, Embodied History: The Lives of the Poor in Early Philadelphia (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003), pp. 111-113 and Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker, The Many Headed-Hydra: Sailors, Slaves, Commoners, and the Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic (Beacon Press, 2000), pp. 160, 163-164 (Blackboard)
Please respond to one of the following questions:
1) These readings provide different perspectives on the lives of people with disabilities in early America. Pick one of the following characteristics—race, class, occupation, sex, region, or type of impairment or disability—and use at least two (preferably all three) readings to discuss how those characteristics shaped the lives of people with disabilities in early America.
2) Alternatively, you can summarize in several sentences (or possibly a short paragraph each) your “muddiest points” in at least two (preferably all three) readings.
1) Nielsen, A Disability History of the United States, pp. xi-xxiii and 1-40 (introduction, ch. 1-3, and part of ch. 4).
Then, please answer one of the questions below:
1) Nielsen presents two major frameworks for understanding disability and dealing with disabled people in early America (religion/science and the poor law). Do you think these views are still present today? Why or why not?
2) What were your “muddiest points” in Nielsen and or the poor laws? That is, what points did you find most confusing in these readings and why?
Reading: Groce, Everyone Here Spoke Sign Language, ch. 1 and 5-8 (p. 1-11, 50-110)
Was deafness a disability on Martha’s Vineyard? Why or why not? What does this case suggest about the nature of disability more broadly?
Alternatively, please come up with two discussion questions for class.
Read: Longmore, Why I Burned My Book, introduction and ch. 1 & 7 (pp. 1-32, 131-146)
Then answer either question 1 or 2 below.
1) What term(s) for “disability” and “people with disabilities” do you think are most appropriate? Why? Can “people with disabilities” be described as a single group? Why or why not? Please engage with Longmore in your answer The point here is to think through Longmore’s arguments about the meaning of disability and the need for disability studies and whether you agree with him.
2) Alternatively, you can summarize in several sentences your “muddiest point(s),” that is, what important point(s) in Longmore you found most confusing.
Here are four “A” reading responses from a previous class (the first and second are responses to questions that I posted; the third is a set of discussion questions for class, and the fourth is a “muddiest thing” response; ):
Response 1: To a certain extent I agree with Andre Branch and John Wasson. It would have been extremely difficult and hard to have Junius Wilson live anywhere but where he had lived for so long. Undoubtedly it had the best care and medical support for a person of that age, and he was surrounded by people who cared for him. It would also have been a massive shock to go from such a controlled environment to having such freedom, and also there was the fact that there was a language barrier between Junius and the rest of the world. On the other hand though, I think that he should have been moved out of the hospital the moment it was discovered he wasn’t’ insane, and he should have been given the opportunity to live his life, how and where he wanted to. In the book, pg 207 even the hospital staff mentions “he sometimes did not consider the cottage on the grounds of the hospital to be his home.” I think that Mr. Wilson should have been given the opportunity to at least try living outside the hospital and if that didn’t work then he could have come back.
Response 2 (longer than necessary, but an excellent response): It seems very clear from Plunkitt’s account why political machines such as Tammany Hall received so much voter support, particularly in the early twentieth century. Giving “opportunities to the common man in exchange for loyalty” and going “down among the poor families” to “help them in the different ways they need help,” though it may seem like common sense, was actually an incredibly effective political tool, particularly given the state of immigration at the time (Riordon, Ch.6). With the population of New York City nearly doubling in the twenty year span between 1900-1920, forty-two percent of which were immigrants, it is easy to see why an organization such as Tammany which promised employment, legal aid, and emergency assistance held so much attraction to such a large voter base (Fink, 118-120). Politicians such as Plunkitt marketed themselves as “father” figures who could be counted on in “times of trouble” – the fact that they largely delivered on these promises only made the system that much easier to accept (Riordan, Ch.6). True, politicians such as Plunkitt shamelessly milked the political machine for personal advantage; however, to those that argue that organizations such as Tammany were purely corrupt and not at all Democratic, I would have to say it depends on who you ask. I believe these political machines were indeed necessary in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, as they filled the need for social welfare that did not exist in the form of a national program at the time.
Response 3: 1) Did children who were born deaf and mute to wealthy class citizens face the same discrimination as their immigrant counterparts, and does Helen Keller play in any part of this portion of history? 2) Upon entering America, do you believe that immigrants such as the young Turkish worker Mustafa, whose religion, native culture, and even dress were altered to fit the way of life of an “American gentleman,” believed themselves to have reached the ‘land of freedom and opportunity’? Or do you believe they would have seen themselves as restricted?
Response 4: One of the muddiest things within this chapter was how TR was viewed as a “weakling” early on, but somehow managed to transform his weak image to one of a manly man (Fink, 287). His desire for power ultimately overcame the negative stigmas that were placed upon him by others. It seems that people stereotyped him due to his “high voice, tight pants and fancy clothing” and only changed their opinions of him after he “became known as Colonel Roosevelt” (Fink, 287). Did his involvement within the active military ultimately gain him the Presidency?