Technology, Paranoia, and the Therapeutic Encounter

“This isn’t therapy, what we’ve done. We’ve erased things.” — Heidi Bergman, Homecoming (TV version).  Roanne Kantor and Anna Mukamal // This fall I had the pleasure of teaching a course on intersections between disability and technology. In putting together the syllabus, I quickly noticed that one of the most potent sites for this question…

Environmental Neurodiversity and Systems Change

Neşe Devenot // Neurodivergent perspectives inspired two of the biggest environmental justice movements of 2019—Extinction Rebellion and Greta Thunberg’s “Fridays for Future”—and I don’t think that’s a coincidence. For her part, Thunberg garnered widespread media attention for linking her global impact to having Asperger’s, an autism-spectrum condition that Thunberg calls her “superpower.” According to Thunberg,…

Pat-a-caking One’s Way into the World of Blindness

Botsa Katara// “But he wouldnay get his fucking Dysfuckingfunctional Benefit man he would be lucky to get fucking re-registered … and the actual compen was a joke. Nay chance.” (Kelman 248) The epigram belongs to James Kelman’s Booker Prize winning novel, How Late It Was, How Late. Published in 1994, the novel documents the travails…

On the Power of Names

Very recently, I had a discussion with the brilliant Jillian Weise about naming—in this case, how we name the condition of spinal curvature. In truth, I only recently learned the full name of my specific diagnosis: kyphoscoliosis. This is a compound term in medicine (kyphosis + scoliosis) used to denote both the rounding (which creates…

Neoliberalizing aging: a successful aging paradigm?

Chia Yu Lien // In the past century, aging and old age have become widely recognized as one of the most important medical and social problems. This recognition has been accelerated by multiple factors, including demographic change and the institution of retirement. In addition to all these factors, in the last three decades aging as…

The Kinetic Eloquence of Hands

Botsa Katara // Listen: a four–worded wave speech: seesoo, hrss, rsseeeis, ooos. Vehement breath of waters amid seasnakes, rearing horses, rocks. In cups of rocks it slops: flop, slop, slap: bounded in barrels. And, spent, its speech ceases. (Joyce 45) If listening ceases with speech, and speech with sound, then does language cease too? And,…

Archiving the Sick Body

Cristina Robu // Defining the body as a “political archive,” the philosopher Paul B. Preciado calls it “somathèque”[1] (French for “somatic chronicles”): a registry of power-relations, cultural constructs, events, drives, and narratives or, as Preciado puts it, a “living archive of political fictions.”[2] Through this lens, we might understand the sick body as a site…

Teaching Victorian Disability Studies

“What it must mean, if we are to be present in this age of challenges, is a profound rethinking of our pedagogical priorities, disciplinary boundaries, and subject positions. Let us actually be Victorianists.” –Christie Harner, “Victorian hybridities”[i] Travis Lau // As I begin to construct my syllabus for my introductory seminar on medical humanities and…

Testing for Normalcy: Amniocentesis and Disability in the 1970s

John A. Carranza // “2. Pregnancy is usually a happy time. Most newborn infants are normal and healthy. Even so, parents often wonder if their unborn child will be normal.”[1] By the late 1970s, reproductive decisions and the sense of normality were challenged and redefined by the women’s liberation and disability rights movement, among others….

Special Issue Review: Chemistry, Disability, and Frankenstein

Diana Rose Newby // Chemistry, Disability, and Frankenstein, theme issue of Literature and Medicine, vol. 36, no. 2, fall 2018. In her introduction to the 1831 edition of Frankenstein, Mary Shelley concludes with well wishes for her creation’s second life: “And now, once again, I bid my hideous progeny go forth and prosper” (25). Today,…