Thursday, April 10, 2008

Disability in Print

Great article about english professor, Georgina Kleege. But more than an article about an accomplished woman who is blind, Georgina (and the article) challenge the notion of disability memoirs.
It notes that in her lectures, Georgina poses the question

"Do autobiographies written by people with disabilities demystify disability and offer a valuable view into lives at the margins of culture, or are these memoirs merely another form of freak-show, helping to reinforce the notion that disability is a tragedy to be heroically overcome?"

Citing Temple Grandin's Thinking In Pictures and Hellen Keller's World I live in, "While both of these books do provide glimpses into the lives of extraordinary disabled people, they’re also myth-making — perpetuating the notion that successful disabled people are somehow superhuman in their achievements. "

She found that memoirs about blindness either "There were the blind whiners … On the other extreme were the blind mystics, who kept alive the ancient myth of compensatory powers.”

She has written two books about her own blindness, reportedly challenging and shattering myths and stereotypes about blindness and disability ; Sight Unseen and Blind Rage. The latter a work of creative nonfiction that "engages the ghost of Keller in a fictional conversation about the nature of blindness and coping with disability"
While I have yet to read either book, they are on my list. It is a discussion that needs to happen more.

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