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Enforcing Normalcy: Disability, Deafness, and the Body First Edition (US) First Printing Edition

5 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1859840078
ISBN-10: 1859840078
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Enforcing Normalcy: Disability, Deafness, and the Body + Extraordinary Bodies: Figuring Physical Disability in American Culture and Literature
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Lennard J. Davis is Assistant Professor of English at Binghampton University. He has written on disability for the Nation. His previous books include Factual Fictions and Resisting Novels.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 228 pages
  • Publisher: Verso; First Edition (US) First Printing edition (December 17, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1859840078
  • ISBN-13: 978-1859840078
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #558,925 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Lennard J Davis is Distinguished Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He has written all types of work from memoirs to novels to popular journalism and been a commentator and interviewee on National Public Radio. Born in a family with two Deaf parents, Davis grew up in a Jewish working class, immigrant family in the Bronx. He attended the New York City public schools and then went to Columbia University where he was an undergraduate, graduate student, and then assistant professor. He has since taught at Brandeis University, University of Pennsylvania, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, and Binghamton University before arriving at his current post. He has been a visiting professor at the University of Westminster in London and Fordham University in New York. He runs, used to raise bees and chickens, and has an organic garden he tends in upstate NY.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Eileen G. on April 18, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book, seven strong chapters and a brief, personal Preface, ably discusses and deconstructs historic notions of disability ("the missing term in the race, class gender triad")and fully describes the harrowingly destructive - because so socially, culturally, and psychically damaging - concept of 'the norm,' historic uses (and abuse) of the body, and with it: the body politic.
Dr Davis supplies the reader with a bit of context. He grew up as the hearing child of Deaf parents in New York's South Bronx, where his parents, he reports, "were as good as any other person in the South Bronx, which is to say they were pretty badly off."
Chapter Four, "Nationalism and Deafness: The Nineteenth Century" offers historic perspectives on deafness, including the fact that by the beginning of the nineteenth century, sign language had become a transnational language. Anyone fluent in sign language could communicate with any other signer - worldwide. This is no small thing. The Deaf "became a subgroup within each state throughout Europe." Some additional topics are: oralism and sign language, disability, class, nationalism, eugenics, politics, poverty, industrialization, and health. The bigger concepts of inclusion and exclusion are touched upon, too.
"Deafness and Insight" is a challenging and complex chapter in which Davis explores "deafness as a critical modality." A main assertion throughout this book is that the concept of the "normal" body informs cultural assumptions about art, literature, and the totality, in fact, of culture.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By R. Harry on January 6, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Anyone interested in either the history or theory of disability should read this book. I would think it would also be helpful for those with disabilities and their family members to find a social-historical context regarding their experiences. My favoroite chapter was the one regarding how statisitics, Sir Francis Galton, and eugenics are connected to formulate our current conceptions of what we call "normal". He also makes connections to the positon/role of disability in both literature and art. Highly recommended.
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I bought this book to learn a little more about disability studies and also because of the author, since Davis in a know CODA (child of deaf adults) and I'm doing a little research on CODAs as well. I really liked his argument of incorporating disability alongside, and not just stuffing them within the discussion on race, class and gender, and I believe he was very convincing and did an excellent job at proving his point. I also appreciated the fact that he used popular novels like Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, Austen's Emma, and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein to address the issues on the portrayal of disability, language ideologies, and eugenics in literature. Finally, not to give away any spoilers, but I was deeply moved with the ending, which I don't particularly believe was his intention, but me being a Puerto Rican and for him to meditate on the case of another belonging to the same culture as myself, and shedding a little light (again, I don't think it was his intention) on the reality of a lot of deaf people in my country, was something that took me by surprise. An overall, great purchase.
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By C on May 16, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Davis is a go to for disability rights and studies.

Enforcing Normalcy's Chapter 2
is filled with literature examples
that depict impaired and not impaired bodies.
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By Melanie on July 12, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Great read with good information. Can be a little dry at times, but what historical accounts aren't? Overall well done :)
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