Category Archives: Disability History

December 17, 2013, 12:33 pm

The Education of Henry Adams: A Review

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Henry and his book in fall, 2013 (Photo credit: Rachel Adams)

Rachel Adams, Raising Henry: A Memoir of Motherhood, Disability and Discovery (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013). 272 pp. $17.95.

Raising Henry begins with two images. The first is the photograph of author Rachel Adams and her son Henry on the front of the book. It is, Adams tells us, one of the few photographs of them together, since she is usually the one behind the camera. The second image is one she only describes in the opening paragraphs of the book: a cherished photograph of her mother, already dying of cancer in Rachel’s childhood.

These images combine to ask the reader: what does it mean, not only to focus on the disabled subject, but to expand our view and allow a disabled child’s mother, father or siblings to be “in the picture”…

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March 3, 2013, 8:55 pm

We Don’t Need Another Hero: One Woman’s Disabled History

2235_regHarilyn Rousso, Don’t Call Me Inspirational: A Disabled Feminist Talks Back (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2013), 224 pp., paper $24.95.

From its title onward, New York activist Harilyn Rousso’s Don’t Call Me Inspirational: A Disabled Feminist Talks Back argues against the American romance with parables about everyday heroism and triumph over adversity. Instead, this book asks: what would a public that is welcoming to disabled people actually look like? An American Studies Association panel I attended last fall, riffing off of Dan Savage’s It Gets Better YouTube campaign for GLBT youth, put it this way: what if “it” doesn’t get better? What if there is no cure, no triumphant overcoming? What if the body you have is the body you get? Can we imagine instead narratives about rich and full lives with disability?

These are crucial questions, and it is is why you …

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April 27, 2011, 11:35 am

Love, Literature, and The Art Of Making A Life In Priscilla Gilman’s “The Anti-Romantic Child”

Priscilla Gilman’s new memoir, The Anti-Romantic Child:  A Story of Unexpected Joy (New York:  HarperCollins, 2011), is this week’s recommended reading.  It is mostly about Gilman’s struggle to help her son Benjamin overcome a set of developmental disabilities that make him sound quite charming and interesting — as well as a challenging child who gives intricate meaning to that imprecise phrase “special needs.”  While she gestures at specific diagnoses, she resists the comprehensive and categorical workup with which so many of my students arrive at college.  She also refuses medication, which seems to be the go-to solution for the vast majority of kids who see a neurologist nowadays, as it seems to affect Benj’s brain chemistry in dramatic and unhelpful ways.  Intensive therapy, however, helps, and that story is going to be very instructive and encouraging for parents who are finding …

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February 14, 2010, 3:58 pm

Valentine’s Day Super Sunday Radical Roundup

Do As I Say Not As I Do Department: Yesterday, when I thought that a mysterious Web Presence was taking out my illustrations and leaving a ghastly grey hole in their place, I took a bunch of the affected pics down. This was precipitous. Further research on Websense (that I should have done at the time perhaps, but I was maxing out the archives hours) suggests that it is a network device that is location specific, not a bot at all, much less a tool of the capitalist patriarchy. Here I am sitting in a Starbucks on 93rd and Broadway (which I think is a tool of the capitalist patriarchy) and my blog hasn’t been mangled by lost pictures and ominous messages at all. Still the mystery remains: why did Websense knock out a picture of that sexy Radical cowboy?

Feeling Helpless About Haiti? Have An Archives, Museum Or Public History Degree? Well, the last thing they need in Port-au-Prince…

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