November Perspectives Online

The November issue of Perspectives is now online. The theme of this issue is “Disability in History,” and a number of articles address the subject:

Linda K. Kerber’s article, “Enabling History,” begins the discussion and introduces the other articles on disability by Douglas Baynton, Catherine Kudlick, and Paul Longmore. She starts by mentioning that the history of disability is now included as a specialization category on the AHA membership form, and explains why that is important and relevant. She goes on to say, “disability history will enable all of us to understand not just a social movement, but all history better.”

Douglas Baynton raises the following question in “Disability in History”:
“Given the fundamental nature of physical experience, the life-altering power of an acquired disability, the human tendency to classify and rank others on the basis of appearance, and the ubiquity of body metaphors in everyday language, is it likely that disability would not have significance everywhere we look?”

Finally, Catherine Kudlick and Paul Longmore begin their article, “Disability and the Transformation of Historians’ Public Sphere,” by reflecting on philosopher Jürgen Habermas and how his speech disability affected the way he saw the world. They go on to explain how disability can teach “political and social lessons” to the history profession.

Find all of these articles and more in the November issue of Perspectives.

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  1. James Risk

    I commend Drs. Kerber, Baynton, Kudlick, and Longmore on their insightful views of how history can be enhanced by our understanding of society’s views on disabilities. As an employee of the Center for Excellence in Disabilities at West Virginia University, I shared the articles with our listserv. As a future historian I am glad to see the discipline recognizing the need for inclusion of people with disabilities. I would like to advocate that as the discipline moves forward in researching this area that it adopts the “person-first” language which focuses on the person and not the disability. As we study the importance that people with disabilities have had on shaping history, we must remember that these individuals are people first and not the monsters of Marco Polo’s writings. Thank you for the excellent articles.