By Rosemarie Garland Thomson
Inaugurates a brand new box of incapacity reports by way of framing incapacity as a minority discourse instead of a scientific one, revising oppressive narratives and revealing liberatory ones. The booklet examines disabled figures in Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin and Rebecca Harding Davis's lifestyles within the Iron turbines, in African-American novels by way of Toni Morrison and Audre Lorde, and within the well known cultural ritual of the freak convey.
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Extra resources for Extraordinary Bodies
On the outer margin is the "monstrosity,'" the physical consequence of Nature's having "strayed" onto a path of deviance, the first stop along which is the female body. Aristotle thus conjoins the "monstrosity"-whom we would today term "congenitally disabled"-and the female outside the definitive norm. "2 More significant than Aristotle's simple conflation of disability and female ness is his declaration that the source of all otherness is the concept of a norm, a "generic type" against which all physical variation appears as different, de rivative, inferior, and insufficient.
The Disabled Figu re an d the Id eology of Liberal I n d ivid u alism Emerson's Invalid and the Doctrine of Self- Reliance In anthropologist Robert Murphy's groundbreaking ethnography of his own disability, The Body Silent, he emphasizes that others' avoidance, discomfort, and devaluation of him amounted to a loss of status and a wound to his self image as devastating as his recent paraplegia. Disability, Murphy observes, "is a social malady. . "56 lV1urphy goes beyond simply ac knovvledging the social dimensions of disability to examine the disabled fig ure's crucial role in establishing the boundaries of the normate American self.
What this passage makes clearest, however, is that without the monstrous body to demarcate the borders of the generic , without the female body to dis tinguish the shape of the male, and without the pathological to give form to the normal, the taxonomies of bodily value that underlie political, social, and economic arrangements would collapse . 3 This persistent intertwining of disability with femaleness i n Western dis course provides a starting point for exploring the relationship of social identity to the body.