Centre for Culture & Disability Studies

Edited Books

book coverDavid Bolt and Claire Penketh. eds.
Disability, Avoidance and the Academy: Challenging Resistance.
Abingdon: Routledge, 2015.

Disability is a widespread phenomenon, indeed a potentially universal one as life expectancies rise. Within the academic world, it has relevance for all disciplines yet is often dismissed as a niche market or someone else’s domain. This collection explores how academic avoidance of disability studies and disability theory is indicative of social prejudice and highlights, conversely, how the academy can and does engage with disability studies.

This innovative book brings together work in the humanities and the social sciences, and draws on the riches of cultural diversity to challenge institutional and disciplinary avoidance. Divided into three parts, the first looks at how educational institutions and systems implicitly uphold double standards, which can result in negative experiences for staff and students who are disabled. The second part explores how disability studies informs and improves a number of academic disciplines, from social work to performance arts. The final part shows how more diverse cultural engagement offers a way forward for the academy, demonstrating ways in which we can make more explicit the interdisciplinary significance of disability studies and, by extension, disability theory, activism, experience, and culture.

Disability, Avoidance and the Academy: Challenging Resistance will interest students and scholars of disability studies, education studies and cultural studies.

book coverDavid Bolt. ed.
Changing Social Attitudes Toward Disability: Perspectives from Historical, Cultural, and Educational Studies.
Abingdon: Routledge, 2014.

Whilst legislation may have progressed internationally and nationally for disabled people, barriers continue to exist, of which one of the most pervasive and ingrained is attitudinal. Social attitudes are often rooted in a lack of knowledge and are perpetuated through erroneous stereotypes, and ultimately these legal and policy changes are ineffectual without a corresponding attitudinal change.

This unique book provides a much needed, multifaceted exploration of changing social attitudes toward disability. Adopting a tripartite approach to examining disability, the book looks at historical, cultural, and education studies, broadly conceived, in order to provide a multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approach to the documentation and endorsement of changing social attitudes toward disability. Written by a selection of established and emerging scholars in the field, the book aims to break down some of the unhelpful boundariesbetween disciplines so that disability is recognised as an issue for all of us across all aspects of society, and to encourage readers to recognise disability in all its forms and within all its contexts.

This truly multidimensional approach to changing social attitudes will be important reading for students and researchers of disability from education, cultural and disability studies, and all those interested in the questions and issues surrounding attitudes toward disability.

book coverDavid Bolt, Julia Miele Rodas, and Elizabeth J. Donaldson. eds.
The Madwoman and the Blindman: Jane Eyre, Discourse, Disability.
Columbus: Ohio State UP, 2012.

Though an indisputable classic and a landmark text for critical voices from feminism to Marxism to postcolonialism, until now, Jane Eyre has never yet been fully explored from a disability perspective. Customarily, impairment in the novel has been read unproblematically as loss, an undesired deviance from a condition of regularity vital to stable closure of the marriage plot. In fact, the most visible aspects of disability in the novel have traditionally been understood in rather rudimentary symbolic terms—the blindness of Rochester and the “madness” of Bertha apparently standing in for other aspects of identity. The Madwoman and the Blindman: Jane Eyre, Discourse, Disability resists this traditional reading of disability in the novel. Informed by a variety of perspectives—cultural studies, linguistics, and gender and film studies—the essays in this collection suggest surprising new interpretations, parsing the trope of the Blindman, investigating the embodiment of mental illness, and proposing an autistic identity for Jane Eyre. As the first volume of criticism dedicated to analyzing and theorizing the role of disability in a single literary text, The Madwoman and the Blindman is a model for how disability studies can open new conversation and critical thought within the literary canon.

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