Paul K. Longmore, Lauri Umansky, eds. The New Disability History: American Perspectives. New York and London: New York University Press, 2001. vi + 416 pp. $24.00 (paper), ISBN 978-0-8147-8564-5; $66.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-8147-8563-8.
Reviewed by Brenda J. Bruggemann (Ohio State University)
Published on H-Disability (September, 2002)
Something Old, Something New
Something Old, Something New
The New Disability History: American Perspectives is a truly groundbreaking volume and is well-deserving of the praise heaped on its back cover: "splendid collection" that is "not your father's old-time medical history--it's a broader, brilliant enterprise" (Walter Nugent) and "a cause for celebration" with "the insights popping off each page" (Martha Minow). Co-edited and introduced by Paul Longmore and Lauri Umansky, two scholars of the new disability history themselves, this volume brings together a collection of fourteen essays about disability and disabled people in American history. The essays range from the early nineteenth century to the present, with "a majority of the pieces situated in the late nineteenth to early twentieth centuries," a period that "draws particular attention" because, as the editors document in their introduction, much of the work around disability in American history at large "point[s] to the half century from around 1880-1930 as a moment of major redefinition" for disabled lives, disability policy, and disability history (p. 22).
The Introduction authored by Longmore and Umansky itself is worthy for the way it accomplishes several important scholarly goals at once. First, Longmore and Umansky document the need for the essays they collect here as a way to "begin to fill in the historiographical gaps" that exist between the "pervasive presence of disability" as it has "always been central to life in America" and "its conspicuous absence from the historiography" (pp. 2-3). This exclusion experience is, for better or worse, a theme that binds all of the pieces together. At worst, because it would be nice to start a discussion about disability these days--and especially about disability studies--at some location outside the (perhaps too easily victimized) space of neglect and exclusion as the primary reason for generating scholarship; "filling in" work is not always the most fulfilling, either personally or professionally.
As necessary as filling in the historical record might be, work that builds something new for others to model from is of great value too. This collection also does this kind of work at its best--although this kind of work is never explicitly claimed in the introduction as a focus of the volume--because the fourteen essays collected here offer provocative and powerful examples of ways to go about generating entirely new approaches to humanities-focused analyses of disability.
In documenting the paradoxically "absent presence" of disability in American history, the introduction covers three central reasons for "the elision of disabled people from the historiography" (p. 6), and then goes on to discuss the smoke screens disability has performed behind: first, historians may be assuming a paucity of primary resources for disability history; second, any discussion of disability evokes a kind of "existential anxiety" verified by "considerable literature in psychology ... that the presence of individuals with disabilities stirs dis-ease in many individuals who view themselves as normal" (p. 6); and third, "at an intellectual and historical level historians may have neglected disability history because they view the experience of disability from a medical perspective" (p. 7).
The fourteen essays that follow counter this triangle of non-logic at every angle. They do so by illustrating fruitful ways to tap known resources in excavating disability while also finding new locations and ways to "source" the study of disability. They do so while repeatedly normalizing the anxiety that a discussion of disability is supposed to produce--simply by offering scholarly discussions so rich, well-articulated, provocative and even delightful that almost any historical or humanities scholar would almost have to be invited in. Finally, they do so by expanding the purview of disability outside medical institutions to schools and social services because "medicalized interpretations of their situations and needs did impact [disabled people], but usually through the brokerage of schools and social service agencies rather than health care institutions" (p. 8). Medicine, they show, has averted our gaze.
While this triple-pronged approach to the new disability history stands behind this collection, there are other significant common points that bind many of the pieces together. Many of the essays, for example, consider the power of public policy, for good or ill, in the lives of people with disabilities by sometimes further individualizing (and often oppressing and erasing) disabled people but also by politicizing particular disability groups and therein, affording them even more power. Many of the essays also explore the dense intersections of disability with issues and identities around socioeconomic class, gender, and race. In this way, the new disability history, as represented in this volume, parallels and builds on the new social histories of the past forty years. Finally, many of the essays present the very paradox of representing disability in American history and culture, since disability--as both a condition and concept--along with the people who have disabilities are more often than not found between the rocks and hard places of our cultural consciousness: between culture and community; between over-determined individuality (a positive value in American culture) and an objectified isolation; between medicine and the law; between (unfulfilling) work and (unfulfilling) welfare; between existing as silent service-subject and noisy and tireless (but tiring) self-advocate; between saint and stigma; between being stared at yet also ignored; between being labelled "special" on the one hand and "deviant" on the other; between presumed privilege and yet disenfranchisement; between being too public and/but too personal; between the discourses of rights and reasons.
The introduction claims that the volume is arranged, for the most part, chronologically over almost 200 years and then divided "thematically" into three general time periods that coincide with the themes of "Uses and Contests," "Redefinitions and Resistance," (the largest period and theme concerning primarily the years 1880-1930), and the more recent and last period, "Images and Identities." Yet while the titles of these three sections are interesting, it is not entirely clear (other than chronology) what binds the pieces together, what the conceptual framework of those three units are (no introductions to each section are given nor are they discussed, as sections, in the introduction), or what the issues around presenting social history in codified chronology might be.
Without this kind of section/theme framework for the volume's arrangement, those who enter it must do a fair amount of mental work to make the pieces speak to each other at times. This is not necessarily a disadvantage, but it does make the disability studies novice do a great deal of hard sense-making work. Even as a non-novice, I too had to construct my own kind of organizational sense of the volume. This is what I heard when I listened to the chorus and solo of the fourteen scholarly "voices" in this collection.
There are two bookend pieces--the ones by Douglas Baynton and Rosemarie Garland-Thomson--that not only bracket the ideas of the whole collection but call attention to themselves for their potential as models of the best work being done in "the new disability studies." In so modeling, they offer provocative new critical tools and analytical approaches to disability studies while they also--and this is their real strength, I believe--provide us with generative models for entering into and doing disability studies. That is, Baynton and Garland-Thomson take us beyond just a way to uncover or recover what has been covered over or under in former medically-dominated approaches to the study of disability; they turn us more toward "disability as insight"--toward what it is that the study of disability in our culture can do and provide to larger arenas of critical and cultural analysis.
Baynton's essay on the place of disability in U.S. immigration laws and practices, "Disability and the Justification of Inequality in American History," fittingly opens the book, following the introduction. Baynton boldly and yet simply begins by claiming to illustrate how "disability was a significant factor in the three great citizenship debates of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries: women's suffrage, African American freedom and civil rights, and the restriction of immigration" (p. 33). Yet the act of this illustration is anything but simple. Baynton's complex and fascinating argument of how intricately interwoven the fabric of "immigration" and "equality" (and therein, inequality) were with disability at the turn of the last century makes for a masterful moment in understanding why it is that recovering disability's lost history or untold history is so important: because that history actually illuminates some of the darker corners of our national history.
A number of my undergraduate students at Ohio State University were stunned by this insight when they had an opportunity to hear Baynton lecture on this topic. Baynton came to campus, towards the end of term when I was teaching a course on the new disability studies; thus, these students were not strangers to the insights disability could afford at this point. Nonetheless, they were stunned by the complexity of the issues Baynton presents here. Most of them left the room that day and went home to write about Baynton's brilliance, on the one hand, and their own realizations, on the other, that they might not be here themselves if grandpa had been blind, disfigured and/or noticeably disabled. They suddenly saw disability in a whole new light.
Equally insightful in this way is the essay by Garland-Thomson, "Seeing the Disabled: Visual Rhetorics of Disability in Popular Photography," which is placed as the penultimate essay in the collection. While Garland-Thomson's essay does not employ a more traditional historical method, students respond similarly to it as they do to Baynton's work--they come away awed by the degree to which they had not seen disability before and empowered by how they see it now (everywhere and deeply embedded in our way of looking at "others"). The students are also intrigued by the author's straight-forward prose, used to present analytical tools that can be adopted as they go on to study disability. In this article, Garland-Thomson gives us four overlapping but also discrete rhetorical categories that construct disabled subjects through the "stare" directed at them.
Thus, both Garland-Thomson and Baynton provide at least three significant and similar features in their essays: (1) meaningful models for student-scholars, and their teachers, to follow or adapt as they take up their own study of disability; (2) ways to employ disability as an insight into larger cultural issues; and (3) a strong reinforcement and example of the "present yet absent" place in which the introduction situates disability, people with disabilities, and disability studies. This present yet absent paradox--and sense of being stuck between--is part and parcel of disability in our cultural memory and record. As Baynton concludes in his essay: "Disability is everywhere in history, once you begin looking for it, but conspicuously absent in the histories we write" (p. 52). Garland-Thomson nearly echoes this statement: "The history of disabled people in the world is in part the history of being on display, of being visually conspicuous while being politically and socially erased" (p. 348) Within these bookended phrases, much of the rest of the volume lies.
I think there are three primary shelves that the other twelve essays (and these two bookends) sit on, although I do not place them in the same order as the editors. The largest group sitting together are the chapters about case studies; these are the six essays that explore, for the most part, singular people with disabilities in order to build a case about a larger cultural construct around disability of the time. Perhaps it is ironically fitting that this largest group of essays employs a particular type of case study model--one that is quite well-known to medicine and certainly well utilized in medical approaches to disability.
Rebecca A.R. Edwards examines Horace Mann, in the mid-nineteenth century, as a primary (even somewhat originary) figure in the oralist domination over deaf education and in oralist attempts to eradicate sign language. Unfortunately, it takes her eleven pages of her essay to get to Mann, the subject indicated in her title, since she chooses to get there via a mini-history of the oralist/manualist debate regarding deaf education in America--a history well-rehearsed in Deaf studies at large. Edwards argues that "the first cohesive arguments for oral education came in 1844 from Horace Mann" (p. 59). Like most "origins" arguments, she has a hard case to make, and the proof does not completely seem convincing with regards to Horace Mann's significant role in advancing the oralist cause.
Mann's expressed opinion in an 1844 document about deaf education proposes that "speech has an extraordinary humanizing power"; this idea was not perhaps as "remarkable" as Edwards' claims since much of the entire history of western rhetoric is caught up in advancing--and voicing--speech as just this kind of power. Plato's Phaedrus, for example, proclaims such power repeatedly and the instances throughout western philosophy and rhetoric that reverberate with this proclamation form a fairly mighty chorus. The argument thrust upon the signing hands of deaf people hardly starts with Horace Mann in mid-nineteenth century America. Edwards also repeatedly refers to "the natural language of sign," and while this phrase, too, has plenty of precedent in the larger literature and in Deaf studies, some scholars of both Deaf and Disability Studies have also now been pointing out the fallacy of terms like "natural" as much as terms like "normal."
Hannah Joyner's essay follows Edwards and presents another case study about the shape of deaf lives during almost the same period as the oralist reign presumed by Edwards to have begun with Horace Mann in 1844. Joyner's piece, "This Unnatural and Fratricidal Strife: A Family's Negotiation of the Civil War, Deafness, and Independence," is a skillful narrative that weaves her own historian's voice deftly with the letters and records of the Tillinghast family during the Civil War. One member of this family, David Tillinghast, is deaf and leaves his elite southern (slaveholding) family to go north where, as Joyner unfolds the tale, he "recognized his own competency, struggled against the role of dependency, and fought to gain his family's acceptance of his independence" (p. 83).
The crux of David's problem--that he was deaf in the South during the time of the Civil War and that "as long as the girding of slavery held the system of mastery intact, it seemed impossible for David to be recognized by his family as both self-reliant and southern" (p. 83)--resonates with Baynton's bookend chapter in illustrating the interwoven fabric of race and disability issues in American culture. As Joyner concludes: "The story of David Tillinghast demonstrates that the Civil War also created opportunities for some people with disabilities" (p. 102). Joyner's piece is also so well-written that it too, like Baynton's and Garland-Thomson's chapters, sets a mark for other new disability historians to follow.
The next case study essay in this collection explores the complicated position of Alice James, the sister of William and Henry James, in relationship to her disability, gender, class, "occupation," and self-perception. Natalie A. Dykstra's essay, "'Trying to Idle': Work and Disability in The Diary of Alice James," presents a dense analysis of Alice James' negotiation in "the space of the sickroom--with its required attributes of shaded windows, hushed tones, and soft voices" as also "the most inert and exaggerated example of the domains described and required by the discourse of true womanhood aimed at white, middle-class women" (p. 109). Dykstra works hard to get a handle on the multiple representations of Alice James in relationship to her disability/illness/immobility (all terms are used) as when she claims, almost mid-way through the essay: "Indeed, Alice represents her immobility in assorted guises, so that it takes on different, often contradictory qualities at various times throughout her narrative" (p. 114).
One of Alice James' primary contradictions plays out in relation to her gender; as Dykstra notes of the time, "women came to be equated with illness itself" (p. 117). It is at such points that Dykstra's complex account of Alice James' representations of, and negotiations through, her disability might have been put into conversation with work already done by scholars like Douglas Baynton (when he explores the relationship between hearing women as deaf educators and the attempt to eradicate sign language among deaf people in the late nineteenth century) and Diane Price Herndl. Dykstra's work is interesting and valuable, but it lacks clarity and context at times for want of contact with surrounding scholarship already done in relating women and disability during this time period.
Like Dykstra's essay, the next case study by Cathy Kudlick is also dense, complicated, and entangled as disability intersects again with other identities, primarily gender. Kudlick focuses on blindness in her exploratory case of the differences and similarities between two chief blind publications at the turn of the century, The Problem and The Outlook for the Blind. Even her clever, tongue-tripping title--"The Outlook of The Problem and the Problem with the Outlook: Two Advocacy Journals Reinvent Blind People in Turn-of-the-Century America"--makes clear the complexities of turn-of-the-century views about disability generally and blindness specifically--views just as complex for non-disabled or sighted society as they apparently were for blind people at the time. Kudlick's is a clever, and thought-provoking essay that illustrates well just how dense and daunting the excavation of even a fairly small square of American disability history might be.
Helen Keller represents a kind of problematic poster child for the new disability studies--as someone whose representation we cannot easily avoid but are also more than a little (over)familiarized with by now--and so Kim Nielsen has her work cut out for her in her contribution to this volume, a case study on "HK" and her paradoxical political position with relation to her disability. In "Helen Keller and the Politics of Civic Fitness," Nielsen deftly develops the contradictory way that HK's disability in some ways "uniquely enhanced her citizenship" (p. 273) while full political citizenship was also, and at the same time, denied to her because of her disability: "According to her political opponents, her blindness and deafness rendered her politically disabled and thus incapable of independent and reasoned political opinions--unfit for civic life" (pp. 274-5). In short, then, "Keller's disability made her an inspirational novelty but not a comrade" where matters of politics were concerned (p. 276).
Thus, as an inspiration yet an outcast--as the quintessential (and problematic) poster child for disability--HK represents really what most politically active disabled people (and scholars of the new disability studies) have come to recognize as a commonplace for disabled citizens and their political power--caught between the rock and hard place of the poster life and the real life. As Nielsen concludes in her case about Keller: "Her political body represented an unstable character, a body and person neither self-governed nor autonomous" (p. 286). The unstable (political and otherwise) character of people with disabilities is commonly recognized and referred to in current disability studies scholarship (even in many of the other pieces in this volume)--at the Society for Disability Studies conference presentations, within the Modern Language Association's new Committee on Disability Issues in the Profession, in the pages of The Ragged Edge, for example--and although Nielsen does not link her argument to any of this scholarship, her case about HK makes the point in yet another significant way.
As the final case study in this volume, Janice Brockley explores yet another of the primary paradoxes of disability: the thick and thorny place of mothers in relation to disability and their disabled children. Brockley provides us with a rich recapitulation of "the lives of two families of youths [Jerome Greenfield and Raymond Repouille] with severe disabilities" in the 1930s, using police interviews and newspaper articles as her historical sources, to show how the mothers of these two [murdered] children were martyred while the fathers were portrayed as merciful in their deaths. Brockley's narrative of the events surrounding the deaths of Jerry Greenfield and Raymond Repouille fits, as she argues, "neatly into a contemporary popular debate" (p. 295); one which is often framed by scholars in disability studies who "point out not only that cultural assumptions shape our perceptions of disability but also that social arrangements actually shape what is considered a disability" (p. 294). As such, Brockley frames her case study well within current disability studies scholarship at large. She illustrates how closely examining disabled lives--like those of Jerry and Raymond--can help disability studies scholars "begin to analyze how a lack of social support encouraged a perception of people with severe disabilities as burdens, incapable of having a rewarding relationship" and how then too, "the same stereotypes facilitated ... eventual death" (pp. 294-5).
The institutionalized space of rehabilitation, as one wedged between hospitals and schools for the better part of modern America's disability history, has bracketed off our ability to provide larger or richer social support for people with disabilities. The complex nature of rehabilitation with regards to people with disabilities in American society--stuck between being either a pupil and patient--is the subject of Brad Byrom's essay in this volume. In exploring the development of "rehabilitation"--a Progressive-era brainchild created from the curious coupling of hospitals and schools--Byrom traces the development of rehabilitation's space through the New York Hospital for the Ruptured and Crippled, the first such hospital-school created during the Civil War. Designed primarily as a place to remove the offensive presence of disabled beggars from the sight of more well-to-do and able-bodied New Yorkers, this "hospital" set up the legacy of eliminating the problem of disability by removing disabled people from sight and social spaces. It also set in motion the triple cogs of medicine, education, and employment that would continue to wear on, wind up, wind down, and turn around disabled lives for the next century.
As an institutional investigation, Byrom's essay illuminates five shadowed spaces in the room of rehabilitation: its strong relationship to the institutions of medicine and education (as the offspring of both); its further growth in relationship to employment--in getting people with disabilities to work; its double-pronged referent in reform discourse as both a form of individual "surgical and therapeutic treatment" on the body of a "cripple" and as mechanism for reforming (rehabilitating) "public attitudes toward disabled people" (p. 143); its spotlight cast upon women and children and then even more intensely, of course, on "crippled girls" since "it was widely believed that the crippled woman was unfit for marriage and thus would need to find some means of support" (pp. 141-2); and finally, the overshadowing of medicine and "the medical model's ascendancy" as facilities "which had once focused almost exclusively on educating and socializing disabled children, increasingly turned to medicine as a solution to the problem of disability" (pp. 150-1). In lighting this room, Byrom also lays out a powerful model for more historical study into the institutional spaces housing disability in American culture.
Susan Burch's essay does similar work as she uses case study to analyze the institution of "Deaf education" during the early years of the twentieth century. (As such, her essay also occupies both the case study and institutional space shelves of this volume.) The ascendancy of "oralism" in Deaf education during this period--and, the concomitant and oft-assumed demise of American sign language during this same period--is a picture similar to the rise of the medical model in the rehabilitation room that Byrom paints. But Burch aims to re-view that picture and to argue, using strong historical evidence--which also ties oralist dominance in Deaf education to other Progressive era values, policies, and movements--that "in fact, Deaf people demonstrated consistent agency in their fight to maintain a role in Deaf education" (p. 214). Thus, the story we usually hear with regards to the strong-arm institution of Deaf education during the "Dark Ages" of American Sign Language, is revised somewhat in Burch's hands. She demonstrates how the "staying power of Deaf instructors attests to the tenacity and capabilities of individual teachers, as well as to the influence of their community" (p. 227) and how "Deaf teachers subverted oralism" (p. 228).
"Question history," Burch seems to instruct us, even as she answers history and authorizes it herself. This model--of uncannily opening what seems nicely packaged and carefully labeled with regard to a portion of disability history--is also one worth following in the future of the new disability studies. What's more, although Burch does not mention it herself, Deaf education is considered to be the first form of "special education" and the precursor to education practices, policies, philosophies for all children and citizens with disabilities. As such, Burch's case with Deaf education might well be applied to other instances of "special education" as it develops in America.
Three other institutional studies and settings round out the offerings on this shelf. First, Rosemarie Garland-Thomson's essay (discussed above) belongs here as a critical disability encounter with the institution of photography and the dynamics of the gaze/stare behind that art and invention.
Second, John Williams-Searle presents how ideals of manhood and brotherhood were complicated by disability in the frame of one institution, the labor organization of the Brotherhood of Railroad Brakemen (BRB). In "Cold Charity: Manhood, Brotherhood, and the Transformation of Disability, 1870-1900," Williams-Searle examines "how members of railroad brotherhoods struggled to situate the disabled trainman (as man, as injured, as brother) in the changing work culture of railroading between 1870 and 1900 (p. 159). As "economic productivity made for self-determination in a capitalist society" during these crucial years, the place of a disabled worker within one institution like the BRB becomes a mirror for the space of disability as the BRB sought to find ways to continue to include their disabled (and insured) brothers while not creating (over)dependency among these men on the organization itself and not changing the institution's own picture of itself. As Williams-Searle explains: "While the figure of the disabled worker was rhetorically useful to forge alliances among able-bodied trainmen, actual disabled men who continued to be economically productive presented troubling contradictions that threatened to undo the brotherhoods' ideas about manliness" (p. 160). Disabled workers in the BRB at the end of the nineteenth century thus created a strong tension between the organizations two largest ideals--brotherhood and manhood.
Looking at another organization--this one for people with disabilities and in the middle of the twentieth century--David Gerber uses oral history to examine the contested origins, presumed egalitarian politics, pervasive war metaphors, and cane-dominated ideals of the Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) from its founding in 1945 to about 1958 (the latest date Gerber documents in his essay). The construction of the "ideal blinded veteran's character" looks very similar to the ideal brotherly, manly character that was so troubled by disability a half decade earlier in another organization, the BRB (as discussed by Williams-Searle). There were three key elements in building this character, as outlined by Gerber: a willingness to be rehabilitated--and to be so in "the sort of masculinized 'tough love' approach to rebirth that characterized BVA ideology" (p. 324); the willingness to strive for independence in work and travel (with cane-training at the center of creating this ideal independence) and therein, again, to be manly (pp. 325-6); and, the willingness to immerse oneself in the intense solidarity of the BVA and to embrace egalitarianism (pp. 326-7), in other words, to be brotherly. It is a pity then, that Williams-Searle and Gerber do not connect their two pieces of different eras and different organizations--one of predominantly disabled men and the other of predominantly able-bodied men-talking--to each other. There is a rich disability history still waiting to be written between those two.
K. Walter Hickels' investigation into the politics and policies of disability compensation for another group of brothers and men--the American Veterans of World War I--might also enter into such a crossing, even as it is might well belong on either the second or third shelf of this volume's collection. Hickels' aims not to untangle, but to further entangle, the already messy relationships between medicine, bureaucracy and social welfare in American society as "wartime disability policy [centered over] a conflict over the meaning of disability itself that has shaped the politics and administration of Society Security Disability Insurance and other disability benefits up to the present" (p. 236). Then, as now, "the differences among medical, bureaucratic, and social conceptions of disability became politically charged" (p. 237) and "these political tensions revealed disability as an artifact of capitalist democracy, resonating throughout its economic, social, and political relations" (p. 238). Disabled WWI vets drew compensation on "three related but distinct concepts" (which Hickels outlines)--concepts that "were hallmarks of the Progressive Era" (p. 241) and still clearly dominate disability policy today. Furthermore, the first concept--a "clinical and environmental explanation of the causes of disability"--roots everything in and about disability policy back to medical diagnosis.
These are the roots that bind us even today even though, as Hickels will repeatedly demonstrate, legal and social definitions of disability also exist and continue to complicate and contradict the dominance of medicine--even as they depend on it. One excellent example of these meaningful complications and contradictions comes when race intersects with disability. As Hickels points out: "The nature and implications of this ambivalent meaning [between medical constructs of disability and social constructs] became most evident in the adjudication of black veterans' claims" when "the welfare policies adopted to benefit World War I veterans sought to bolster both the well-being and the racial privilege of white veterans" (p. 255). As anyone with a disability knows, all disabilities are not created equal. These inequalities are the site of a nearly inexhaustible (although also nearly invisible) archive for historians engaged in the new disability studies. This is the work that Douglas Baynton is also doing with regards to U.S. immigration policies. His essay would also fit on this shelf.
Alongside Baynton's and Hickels' excavation of disability in relation to larger U.S. policies, sits the last essay in this volume, Richard K. Scotch's sweep of "American Disability Policy in the Twentieth Century." Scotch widely surveys the underlying assumptions of key policies related to (or arising from) disability in twentieth century American life. Like almost every essay in this volume before him, he roots the almost unshakable contradictions and complexities around disability today to an over-emphasis on the medical model. Yet Scotch also inflects his map (and critique) of American disability policy with the rise of litigation now cropping up around disability since the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). His essay ends the volume with all the hope hinged on "confront[ing] the challenges of changing policy" since, he claims, "disability policy has shifted in emphasis over the past hundred years, yet because it is an expression of the larger culture and social structure, it is a limited engine of social change" (p. 390).
First, of course, we must understand the history of such policies even as we seek to understand, historically, the various expressions of the "larger culture and social structure." This understanding is precisely what Longmore and Umansky's collection on The New Disability History aims for as all the essays that precede Scotch have been, more or less, about encountering and illuminating, as he calls for, "new forms of accountability to accommodate the complexity of disability with flexibility" (p. 390).
. In Forbidden Signs: American Culture and the Campaign Against Sign Language (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1996) and also in the essay that fronts this volume; and, Diane Price Herndl in Invalid Women: Figuring Feminine Illness in American Fiction and Culture, 1840-1940 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1993).
. See Margret Winzer The History of Special Education: From Isolation to Integration, (Gallaudet University Press, 1993).
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Brenda J. Bruggemann. Review of Longmore, Paul K.; Umansky, Lauri, eds., The New Disability History: American Perspectives.
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Copyright © 2002 by H-Net, all rights reserved. H-Net permits the redistribution and reprinting of this work for nonprofit, educational purposes, with full and accurate attribution to the author, web location, date of publication, originating list, and H-Net: Humanities & Social Sciences Online. For any other proposed use, contact the Reviews editorial staff at firstname.lastname@example.org.