Drawing on examples from art, media, fashion, history and memoir, cultural critic Rosemarie Garland-Thomson tackles a basic human interaction which has remained curiously unexplored, the human stare. In the first book of its kind, Garland-Thomson defines staring, explores the factors that motivate it, and considers the targets and the effects of the stare. While borrowing from psychology and biology to help explain why the impulse to stare is so powerful, she also enlarges and complicates these formulations with examples from the realm of imaginative culture. Featuring over forty illustrations, Staring captures the stimulating combination of symbolic, material and emotional factors that make staring so irresistible while endeavoring to shift the usual response to staring, shame, into an engaged self-consideration. Elegant and provocative, this unique study advances new ways of thinking about visuality and the body that will appeal to readers who are interested in the overlap between the humanities and human behaviors.

 

 

As the first major critical study to examine literary and cultural representations of physical disability, Extraordinary Bodies situates disability as a social construction, shifting it from a property of bodies to a product of cultural rules about what bodies should be or do. Rosemarie Garland Thomson examines disabled figures in sentimental novels such as Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin and Rebecca Harding Davis's Life in the Iron Mills, African-American novels by Toni Morrison and Audre Lorde, and the popular cultural ritual of the freak show. Extraordinary Bodies inaugurates a new field of disability studies in the humanities by framing disability as a minority discourse, rather than a medical one, ultimately revising oppressive narratives of disability and revealing liberatory ones.

 

 

Re-Presenting Disability addresses issues surrounding disability representation in museums and galleries, a topic which is receiving much academic attention and is becoming an increasingly pressing issue for practitioners working in wide-ranging museums and related cultural organisations.

This volume of provocative and timely contributions, brings together twenty researchers, practitioners and academics from different disciplinary, institutional and cultural contexts to explore issues surrounding the cultural representation of disabled people and, more particularly, the inclusion (as well as the marked absence) of disability-related narratives in museum and gallery displays. The diverse perspectives featured in the book offer fresh ways of interrogating and understanding contemporary representational practices as well as illuminating existing, related debates concerning identity politics, social agency and organisational purposes and responsibilities, which have considerable currency within museums and museum studies.
 

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Images of disability pervade language and literature, yet disability is, as sex was in the Victorian world, the ubiquitous unspoken topic in today's culture. The twenty-five essays in Disability Studies provide perspectives on disabled people and on disability in the humanities, art, the media, medicine, psychology, the academy, and society.

Edited and introduced by Sharon L. Snyder, Brenda Jo Brueggemann, and Rosemarie Garland-Thomson and containing an afterword by Michael Bérubé (author of Life As We Know It), the volume is rich in its cast of characters (including Oliver Sacks, Dr. Kevorkian, Samuel Johnson, Mark Twain, Walt Whitman, Nero Wolfe) in its powerful, authentic accounts of disabled conditions (deafness, blindness, MS, cancer, the absence of limbs) in its different settings (ancient Greece, medieval Spain, Nazi Germany, modern America) and in its mix of the intellectual and the emotional, of subtle theory and plainspoken autobiography.
 

Giants. Midgets. Tribal non-Westerners. The very fat. The very thin. Hermaphrodites. Conjoined twins. The disabled. The very hirsute. In American history, all have shared the platform equally, as freaks, human oddities, their only commonality their assigned role of anomalous other to the gathered throngs. For the price of a ticket, freak shows offered spectators an icon of bodily otherness whose difference from them secured their own membership in a common American identity--by comparison ordinary, tractable, normal.

Rosemarie Thomson's groundbreaking anthology probes America's disposition toward the visually different. The book's essays fall into four main categories: historical explorations of American freak shows in the era of P.T. Barnum; the articulation of the freak in literary and textual discourses; contemporary relocations of freak shows; and theoretical analyses of freak culture. Essays address such diverse topics as American colonialism and public presentations of natives; laughing gas demonstrations in the 1840's; Shirley Temple and Tom Thumb; Todd Browning's landmark movie Freaks; bodybuilders as postmodern freaks; freaks in Star Trek; Michael Jackson's identification with the Elephant Man; and the modern talk show as a reconfiguration of the freak show. In her introduction, Thomson traces the freak show from antiquity to the modern period and explores the constitutive, political, and textual properties of such exhibits.