Centre for Culture &
                Disability Studies  

Our Books

Book image Bolt, David, 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 imageBolt, David, 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.

Like Changing Social Attitudes Toward Disability on Facebook

Book imageBolt, David.
The Metanarrative of Blindness: A Re-Reading of Twentieth-Century Anglophone Writing.
Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2014.

Although the theme of blindness occurs frequently in literature, literary criticism rarely engages the experiential knowledge of people with visual impairments. The Metanarrative of Blindness counters this trend by bringing to readings of 20th-century works in English a perspective appreciative of impairment and disability. The monograph examines representations of blindness in more than 40 literary works, including writing by Kipling, Joyce, Synge, Orwell, H. G. Wells, Susan Sontag, and Stephen King, shedding light on the deficiencies of these representations and sometimes revealing an uncomfortable resonance with the Anglo-American science of eugenics.

What connects these seemingly disparate works is what this book terms “the metanarrative of blindness,” a narrative steeped in mythology and with deep roots in Western culture. The book examines literary representations of blindness using the analytical tools of disability studies in both the humanities and social sciences. The readings are also broadly appreciative of personal, social, and cultural aspects of disability, with the aim of bringing literary scholars to the growing discipline of disability studies, and vice versa. This truly interdisciplinary monograph is relevant to people working in literary studies, disability studies, psychology, sociology, applied linguistics, life writing, and cultural studies, as well as those with a general interest in education and representations of blindness.

“The scope of The Metanarrative of Blindness is comprehensive and its findings convincing. The prose is eloquent and frequently witty, which will make the book accessible to disability studies scholars as well as to scholars in other fields of literary studies . . . a valuable study that advances the field and will inspire future scholarship.” —Georgina Kleege, University of California, Berkeley

“Bolt’s book on blindness will set a benchmark for works on that subject.  I like his attention to detailed readings, his use of contemporary literary theory, and his ability to balance the close readings with the larger theoretical areas.  I feel in good hands with his judgments and his balance of theory and practice. This is an excellent book.”  —Lennard J. Davis, University of Illinois, Chicago

“David Bolt's The Metanarrative of Blindness is a valuable addition to the ground-breaking Corporealities series. In analysing literary representations of blindness in a wide range of twentieth-century literature, it illuminates contemporary and historical attitudes towards visual impairment, as well as the literary tradition. Conceptually sophisticated and meticulously researched, The Metanarrative of Blindness bridges the cultural, the personal, and the political.  It will be essential reading for scholars in literary disability studies.” —Ria Cheyne, Liverpool Hope University

“David is an accomplished social commentator who uses evidence from twentieth-century fiction to demonstrate how 'the blind' are perceived in modern society…this book is a crucial contribution to 'Blindness Studies' and comes very highly recommended.” —Hannah Thompson, Royal Holloway, University of London, Blind Spot

Like The Metanarrative of Blindness on Facebook

Book imageBolt, David; Rodas, Julia Miele; and Donaldson, Elizabeth J., 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.

“Literary academics who have been meaning to investigate disability studies but have not done so will discover, with pleasure, an approach that can open up well-known texts to fresh readings. Not only that: they will also experience some consciousness-raising. The Madwoman and the Blindman is a welcome addition both to Brontë scholarship and to disability studies.” —Beth Newman, Southern Methodist University
The Madwoman and the Blindman engages, interrogates, and carries out disability studies scholarship and critical approaches to a singular and major literary text, Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. To my knowledge, it is the only volume of its kind and it will be a much-discussed contribution to disability studies.” —Brenda Jo Brueggemann, The Ohio State University
Jane Eyre is arguably the iconic coming-of-age novel to emerge from nineteenth-century Britain, so it seems especially fitting that the novel functions as the centerpiece of this important study. Describing publication of The Madwoman and the Blindman as ‘a coming of age moment for the study of disability’ (ix), Davis captures both the achievement of the collection and, crucially, its invitation for further development.” —Maria Frawley, George Washington University, Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies
The Madwoman and the Blindman marks a watershed moment in cultural disability studies… The decision to publish an edited collection on Jane Eyre from a disability studies perspective demonstrates clear confidence in the field, as a critical approach capable of providing a variety of ways to complement and challenge existing Brontë scholarship.” —Hannah Tweed, University of Glasgow, Disability Studies Quarterly

“It is a testament to the success of this collection that such questioning is encouraged, and that, far from being left with a sense of exhaustion, the reader’s appetite is whetted for further debate and discussion on the range of issues it raises. In demonstrating the viability of a book devoted to disability in a single novel, The Madwoman and the Blindman instantiates the ever-growing pluralism and confidence in the field of literary disability studies, and justifies the hope that it will be the first of other such works.” — Clare Walker Gore, University of Cambridge, Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies

“A strength of the volume is its introduction of new theoretical and historical contexts for our reading of disability in Jane Eyre…A final strength of the collection is the way that it provokes debate even among its contributors.” —Karen Bourrier, Boston University, Victorian Review

The Madwoman and the Blindman is a landmark: the first disability-studies collection devoted to a single text… Jane Eyre now becomes equally central to disability work. The Madwoman and the Blindman makes Jane Eyre the place to seek constructions of impairment, health, caretaking, and recovery in the nineteenth century.” —Talia Schaffer, Queens College and the Graduate Center, CUNY, Studies in the Novel

Like The Madwoman and the Blindman on Facebook

Feeney, David.
Towards an Aesthetics of BlindnessToward an Aesthetics of Blindness: An Interdisciplinary Response to Synge, Yeats, and Friel.
Peter Lang: New York, 2007.

Blindness has always fascinated those who can see. Although modern imaginative portrayals of the sightless experience are increasingly positive, the affirmative elements of these renderings are inevitably tempered and problematized by the visual predilections of the artists undertaking them. This book explores a variety of the (dis)continuities between depictions of the sightless experience of beauty by sighted artists and the lived aesthetic experiences of blind people. It does so by pressing a radical interdisciplinary reinterpretation of celebrated dramatic portrayals of blindness into service as a tool with which to probe the boundaries of the capacities of the sighted imagination while exploring the sensory detriment of our visually fixated notions of beauty. Works by J. M. Synge, W. B. Yeats, and Brian Friel are explored as a means of crafting a workable and innovative medium of theoretical and experiential exchange among the disciplines of literature, aesthetics, and disability studies. In addition to appraising previously unexamined aspects of the work of three of Ireland’s most celebrated modern dramatists, this book considers the consequences for blind people of the exclusionary and prohibitive elements of traditional aesthetic theory and art education. The insights yielded will be of value to those with an interest in modern literature, differential aesthetics, visual culture, perception, and the experience of blindness.

“This brilliant study says many new things about the most eminent modern Irish playwrights while also challenging our visually fixated notions of beauty. David Feeney’s keen literary and aesthetic analysis is complemented by a refreshing and receptive willingness to let the autobiographies of blind people speak poignantly for themselves.” —Declan Kiberd, National University of Ireland, Dublin

Book imageHodkinson, Alan and Philip Vickerman.
Key issues in Special Educational Needs and Inclusion.
London: SAGE, 2009.

Complex and diverse, special educational needs and inclusion can be a difficult area of study to approach for undergraduate students. Understanding the current context of SEN and inclusion means getting to grips with an often perplexing mix of social, political, ideological, educational and personal perspectives. This book explores and critically examines the field, providing a detailed introduction to the topic for students - helping them to develop understanding, without assuming any prior knowledge.

Section one defines the concepts of SEN and disability and how the concepts have been defined through ideological models that have developed over time. It examines provision for SEN across the UK, and looks at how attitudes of teachers, parents and children have affected inclusion. Section two explores the historical development of SEN internationally, including a comparative look at legislation and practice in England and a number of other countries. Section three details how SEN practice in England works, including the Every Child Matters agenda and the roles and responsibilities of education, health and social care professionals.

Each chapter includes short case studies, points for reflection, student activities and suggestions for further reading.

“This is [an] . . . exceptionally useful book. . . This is probably one of the most accessible books I have read lately in relation to SEN and Inclusion, and I intend to make it an essential core text for my inclusion module. It would be very accessible to students who are relatively new to the theoretical aspects behind the idea or concept of inclusion.” —Liane Purnell, Newman University College, ESCalate

“This remains a solid text, well researched and entirely laudable in its intentions, which must be presumed to be intending to facilitate speedy familiarisation with the history of inclusion and the legislation that surrounds it” —Frederic Fovet, La Trobe University, Educate

Book imagePenketh, Claire.
A Clumsy Encounter: Dyspraxia and Drawing.
Rotterdam: Sense, 2011.

A Clumsy Encounter offers an interrogation of inclusive education by exploring the point at which dyspraxia and drawing from observation meet within formal learning environments. Drawing on stories of individual experience, this book seeks to promote the interrogation of implicit educational practices. Here the complexity of observational drawing is examined not within a closed community of art education but within the social and cultural domain of other critical debates within education, specifically those related to inclusion. Pupils do not experience inclusion and exclusion in the abstract but through discipline-based and situated practices. This book aims to explore this complexity and disrupt approaches that might seek to rationalise and compartmentalise educational experience. A Clumsy Encounter reflects a cross-disciplinary perspective and will be of interest to academics, professionals and practitioners interested in the nature, role and value of art education as well as those with a particular interest in dyspraxia. It will also be of particular relevance to those concerned with hearing the voices of pupil experience of inclusive and exclusive educational practices.