Archive for August, 2013

August 29 (Week 2): Defining disability history & early frameworks

This week we will focus on defining the field of disability history and discussing key challenges and debates.  We will also explore several different early conceptual and political frameworks that shaped the lives of people with what we today might term “disabilities.

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.



Defining Disability History

1)     Paul K. Longmore and Lauri Umansky, “Introduction: Disability History: From the Margins to the Mainstream,” in Paul K. Longmore and Lauri Umansky, The New Disability History: American Perspectives (Temple University Press, 2001), pp. 1-29 (MavSpace)

2)     Catherine J. Kudlick, “Disability History: Why We Need Another ‘Other,’” American Historical Review 108, no. 3 (June 2003): 763-793 (MavSpace)

Religion & the Monstrous

1)     “Cripping the Middle Ages, Medievalizing Disability Theory” in Edward Wheatley, Stumbling Blocks Before the Blind: Medieval Constructions of a Disability (University of Michigan Press, 2010), pp. 1-28 (available at

2)     Kevin Stagg, “The Materiality of the Monstrous” in Social Histories of Disability and Deformity, ed. David M. Turner and Kevin Stagg (Routledge, 2006), pp. 19-38 (MavSpace)

The Poor Law

1)     Deborah A. Stone, The Disabled State (Temple University Press, 1984), pp. 15-55 (MavSpace)

2)     Parnel Wickham, “Idiocy and the Law in Colonial New England,” Mental Retardation 39, no. 2 (April 2001): 104-113 (MavSpace)

The Familiarity of Disability

1)     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 (MavSpace)

2)     “The Limits of Community Care” and “Remarkable Unremarkedness: Disabled War Veterans,” in Kim E. Nielsen, A Disability History of the United States (Beacon, 2012), pp. 31-40, 53-56 (MavSpace)

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