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Reading and Writing Disability Differently

Reading and Writing Disability Differently: The Textured Life of Embodiment

Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 192
  • Book Info
    Reading and Writing Disability Differently
    Book Description:

    Mixing rigorous social theory with concrete analysis,Reading and Writing Disability Differentlyunpacks the marginality of disabled people by addressing how the meaning of our bodily existence is configured in everyday literate society.

    Tanya Titchkosky begins by illustrating how news media and policy texts reveal dominant Western ways of constituting the meaning of people, and the meaning of problems, as they relate to our understandings of the embodied self. Her goal is to configure disability as something more than a problem, and beyond simply a positive or a negative, and to treat texts on disability as potential sites to examine neo-liberal culture. Titchkosky holds that through an exploration of the potential behind limited representations of disability, we can relate to disability as a meaningful form of resistance to the restricted normative order of contemporary embodiment.

    Incorporating a textual analysis of ordinary depictions of disability, this innovative study promises to represent embodied differences in new ways and alter our imaginative relations to the politics of the body.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8383-9
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-10)

    It was the late summer of 2005. I watched television coverage and read newspaper accounts about the poor and black people in the midst of the U.S. gulf coast devastation that followed hurricane Katrina. Black people were described as looting; white people, as securing provisions. A white male senator said that the behaviour of the people of New Orleans is ‘shaming America’; a white femaleNew York Timeswriter spoke of ‘United States of Shame,’ given the government’s lethal lack of response (Dowd,New York Times, 3 Sept. 2005). I watched this human degradation unfold during a gentle summer in...

  5. 1 Text and the Life of Disability
    (pp. 11-40)

    My project here is to analyse the achieved social significance of disability in everyday life, especially the everyday life of print. As a way to pursue this project, this chapter lays out the conceptual and interpretive affiliations necessary for bringing to awareness the ways in which the meaning of disability is enacted in everyday texts. This chapter represents the risk of believing that our on-going textual encounters with disability are interactive scenes where we can engage and scrutinize the contemporary cultural organization of embodiment. Through an introductory discussion of what such engagement entails, I seek to narrate the necessity of...


    • [PART ONE Introduction]
      (pp. 43-44)

      I READ THAT RESEARCH ought to be a ‘search for solutions to real-life, open-ended problems’ (Greenwood and Levin 2003: 133). Through my experiences of disability as always already a problem, I have come to a slightly different opinion. I think that the search for solutions, a common practice, should be slowed until we develop some understanding of the problems for which we find ourselves seeking solutions. The search for solutions itself needs to be opened up to reveal the conception of the problem that the solution makes manifest. For example, the problem with disability is that it is easy not...

    • 2 Totally a Problem: Government Survey Texts
      (pp. 45-78)

      We enter a world not of our own making. From time to time, we can take note of the ‘antiquated’ beliefs or ‘backward’ attitudes of those who have come before us. Taking note of the injustices and inadequacies of our predecessors performs a separation from them even as it demonstrates the fact that we find ourselves in a predefined world which, as Cornel West (1995: 16) says, is necessarily not of our own choosing. This suggests that we do not have the ‘slightest chance of making’ alternative definitions without interference. Even our need to highlight the antiquated beliefs of others...

    • 3 Metamorphosis: Making Disability a Medical Matter
      (pp. 79-107)

      This chapter examines the textual enactment of disability as a medical problem in a single newspaper account which begins with a story of a woman who knowingly remains pregnant with a fetus depicted as possessing abnormalities. The newspaper article goes on to describe similar cases and provides an exposé on how parents typically suffer their children’s disabilities. I will read this account for its set of instructions as to how to make disability matter only as an object of medicine. As a medicalized object, disability is some-thing the ordinary reader can take interest in. However, like any other version of...

    • 4 Reading and Recognition: Un-doing Disability's Deadly Status
      (pp. 108-138)

      Henri-Jacques Stiker suggests that every culture has worked out its explanations for worries about the body, mind, and senses. Every explanation offers a solution, a point of departure, a path of proceeding, in short, a way of living with the embodied experience that has been brought on by, or brought us to, worry. There is a kind of governance offered by those institutions and people who provide explanations, which demonstrates the tight tie between explanation and the dominant modalities of a culture.

      Explanation also offers a solution to the problem of what to do with what worries us. There are...


    • [PART TWO Introduction]
      (pp. 141-144)

      IN THE FIRST PART OF THE BOOK I demonstrated, through an interrogation of texts informed by medical discourse, that ‘disability’ is typically regarded as a problem for the state, for communities, and for individuals. At all these levels, recommendations for addressing the problem are hinted at in the texts, and, in turn, the proposedsolutionshelp to reconstitute disability-as-problem. The most radical of these, revealed in the previous chapters, is to understand disability as such a terribly negative condition, uncontrollably disruptive to individual and community welfare, that the prevention or elimination of ‘worthless’ forms of life comes to be understood...

    • 5 Governing Embodiment: Technologies of Constituting Citizens with Disabilities
      (pp. 145-176)

      Like the second chapter, this chapter, too, turns to Canadian government texts on disability. Instead of showing how government texts construct disability as a problem, this chapter pursues an examination of how these same texts sponsor solutions to the problem they have constructed. I interrogate the biomedically informed discursive practices of the Canadian government that aim to make the phenomenon of bodily, sensorial, or mental differences intelligible as conditions possessed by people who, with the correct programmatic support and the right attitude, can be integrated as participatory 'citizens with disabilities'. To this end, I make use of theIn Unison...

    • 6 Overcoming: Abled-Disabled and Other Acts of Normaltive Violence
      (pp. 177-208)

      In the last chapter, I considered how, through bureaucratic language and practices, the problem of disability is imagined to be solved by the constitution of the category ‘abled-disabled’. It is, however, important to consider what happens to disability outside the more specialized or professionalized textual renderings of it. Thus, this final chapter turns to a more mundane and ordinary expression of solving disability, namely, the textual enactment of disability as something that can and should beovercome. In the daily life of reading, we might find it hard to discern whether we are more often confronted by text that recognizes...

  8. Afterword
    (pp. 209-212)

    I end this book by highlighting how disability has not been finished off. Whether you identify as disabled or not, I have assumed that text can be an encounter with disability. Everyday textual expressions of disability can be oriented to as encounters allowing readers an opportunity to open relations between ourselves and alterity. Encountering disability is a chance to ascertain, and thus evaluate, that which gives rise to the appearance of embodied differences in the first place. Through a critical engagement with textual expressions of disability, meaningful encounters between self and alter can happen, since 'the body is already caught...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 213-218)
  10. References
    (pp. 219-236)
  11. Index
    (pp. 237-250)