Bending Over Backwards

Essays on Disability and the Body

200 pages

September, 2002

ISBN: 9780814719503

$26

Paper

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Authors

Lennard J. Davis is head of the English Department at the University of Illinois at Chicago where he is also Professor of Disability and Human Development. His books include Enforcing Normalcy: Disability, Deafness and the Body and The Disability Studies Reader.

All books by Lennard J. Davis

Michael Bérubé is Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Literature and Director of the Institute for the Arts and Humanities at Penn State University. In 2012, he served as the President of the Modern Language Association. He is the author of several books, including Employment of English:Theory, Jobs, and the Future of Literary Studies (NYU Press, 1997), The Left at War (NYU Press, 2009), What’s Liberal About the Liberal Arts?: Classroom Politics and “ Bias” in Higher Education (2006), and Life as We Know It: A Father, A Family, and an Exceptional Child (1996).

All books by Michael Bérubé

With the advent of the human genome, cloning, stem-cell research and many other developments in the way we think of the body, disability studies provides an entirely new way of thinking about the body in its relation to politics, the environment, the legal system, and global economies.

Bending Over Backwards reexamines issues concerning the relationship between disability and normality in the light of postmodern theory and political activism. Davis takes up homosexuality, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the legal system, the history of science and medicine, eugenics, and genetics. Throughout, he maintains that disability is the prime category of postmodernity because it redefines the body in relation to concepts of normalcy, which underlie the very foundations of democracy and humanistic ideas about the body.

Bending Over Backwards argues that disability can become the new prism through which postmodernity examines and defines itself, supplanting the categories of race, class, gender, and sexual orientation.

Reviews

  • "Lennard Davis is history in the making; for he is one of the foremost proponents of "disability studies," the newest theoretical kid on the block, noteworthy in part because it brings together scholars from the humanities and the medical sciences."

    —Stanley Fish, in Chicago Tribune

  • "Bending Over Backwards is a welcome dismemberment of all that was unknowingly artificial from the start."

    The Minnesota Review

  • ”[Its] uniqueness of thought is this collection’s strength as it makes for an interesting and proactive read.”

    American Journal of Occupational Therapy

  • "Davis's work offers creative and challenging examples that may be useful to our discipline and particularly to Disability historians. Bending Over Backwards remains an important and useful work for historians as a template for examining the myriad ways disability and Deafness infiltrate vital aspects of our identity, including laws, cultural icons, literature, and citizenship."

    H-Net Reviews

  • "Taken all together, the chapters offer an important, theoretically rich introduction to disability issues."

    Novel