This week we will focus on the ways in which disability has historically been used to construct hierarchies and “the other.” Our discussions will focus on three examples: slavery, debates over women’s reproduction and civilization, and the spectacle of freak shows.
Please use the comment function to post two discussion questions about this week’s readings by Thursday at 2 pm. Focus on intriguing or controversial points in the readings that you think will spark discussion. Strong discussion questions are open-ended, engage with major points in author(s)’ arguments, and are not factual in nature.
Please also post one of the following:
- a short description (1-3 sentences) of your “muddiest point,” that is, what important point of the author’s argument did you have trouble grasping
- your “most interesting connection” for this week’s reading
If you refer to a specific point or quote in one of the readings, please provide the author and page number.
READINGS FOR SEPTEMBER 12
Slavery & Disability
1) Douglas C. Baynton, “Disability and the Justification of Inequality in American History,” in The New Disability History, pp. 33-57 (MavSpace)
2) “‘Refuse Slaves’ and the Slave Trade,” in Nielsen, A Disability History of the United States, pp. 41-47 (MavSpace)
3) Dea Boster, “‘I Made Up My Mind to Act Both Deaf and Dumb: Displays of Disability and Slave Resistance in the Antebellum American South,” in Disability and Passing: Blurring the Lines of Identity, ed. Jeffrey A. Brune and Daniel J. Wilson (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2013), 71-98 (MavSpace)
Gender, Monsters, and Savages
1) Laura Briggs, “The Race of Hysteria: ‘Overcivilization’ and the ‘Savage’ woman in Late Nineteenth-Century Obstetrics and Gynecology,” American Quarterly 52, no. 5 (June 2000): 246-273 (MavSpace)
2) Philip K. Wilson, “Eighteenth-Century ‘Monsters’ and Nineteenth-Century ‘Freaks’: Reading the Maternally Marked Child,” Literature and Medicine 21, no. 1 (Spring 2002): 1-25 (MavSpace)
Freak Shows & the Gaze
1) Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, “Why Do We Stare?” in Staring: How We Look (Oxford University Press, 2009), pp. 3-11 (MavSpace)
2) “Introduction: Exhibiting Freaks” in Nadja Durbach, Spectacle of Deformity: Freak Shows and Modern British Culture (University of California Press, 2010), pp. 1-32 (MavSpace)
3) Choose one case study to read
- Holly E. Martin, “Cheng and Eng Bunker, ‘The Original Siamese Twins’: Living, Dying, and Continuing under the the Spectator’s Gaze,” The Journal of American Culture 34, no. 4 (December 2011): 372-388 (MavSpace)
- Filip Herza, “‘Tiny Artists from the Big World’: The Rhetoric of Representing Extraordinary Bodies during the Singer Midgets’ 1928 Tour in Prague,” in Exploring the Cultural History of Continental European Freak Shows & ‘Enfreakment’, ed. Anna Kérchy and Andrea Zittlau (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2012), pp. 193-210 (MavSpace)