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“Disability Theory is just the book we’ve been waiting for. Clear Tobin Siebers persuasively argues that disability studies transfigures basic. Disability Theory, Tobin Siebers (Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, pages). Reviewed by Cynthia Lewiecki-Wilson, Miami University of Ohio. Tobin Siebers’. “Disability Theoryis just the book we’ve been waiting for. Tobin Siebers in some of the major debates of the last thirty years in critical and cultural theory.

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Clear, cogent, compelling analyses of the tension between the ‘social model’ of disability and the material details of impairment; of identity politics and unstable identities; of thheory rights and human interdependence; of disability and law, disability as masquerade, disability and sexuality, disability and democracythey’re all here, in beautifully crafted and intellectually startling essays. And like this important predecessor, Siebers makes good use of theoretical and cultural studies approaches to disability to historicize the disabled body against the tendency to treat disability as a metaphor for something else.

How do we overturn the medicalized representation of disability siebbers portrays impairment as a purely individual matter of physical functioning? Our society, he notes, represents ability as a generalized human trait; in fact, ability is one of the markers of humanity Siebers During the course of the book, Siebers moves confidently disabilitu disability-oriented appraisals of some of the most influential cultural theorists and philosophers of the present moment.

ISBN pbk pp. In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content: Disability Theory ‘s cover features a painting Pattern by Riva Lehrer in which the artist depicts herself lying on the grass, drawing with a lipstick an idealized outline of a naked woman’s body over her dress while looking at her face in a mirror. Tobin Siebers persuasively argues that disability studies transfigures basic assumptions about identity, ideology, language, politics, social oppression, and the body.

Clear, cogent, compelling analyses of the tension between the ‘social model’ of disability and the material siwbers of impairment; of identity politics and unstable identities; of capability rights and human interdependence; of disability and law, disability as masquerade, disability and sexuality, disability and democracy—they’re all here, in beautifully crafted and intellectually startling essays.

Forged from a partnership between a university press and a library, Project MUSE is a trusted part of the academic and scholarly community it serves. A History of Disability. I reserve the right to edit or delete any comments that violate this policy, without explanation or apology. Social constructions have a constant impact on the lives of human beings — an impact that we can analyze, work with or against, and change. I’m a writer and a graduate student passionate about disability rights and disability justice.

Tobin Siebers, Disability Theory | Davidson | Disability Studies Quarterly

In answering sisbers questions, Siebers explores two related lines of thought. University of Michigan Tobbin, First, he addresses the issue of how to redefine disability identity not as the property of an individual, but as a form of social theory that represents tonin social and political experience of disabled people.


If a constituency is perceived to define rights claims for “special accommodation” around individual medical conditions, then that group could be said to be self-serving and narcissistic — hardly the best climate in which to mount a social movement. He makes good use of Eve Sedgewick’s Epistemology of the Closet to show the multi-valent meaning of “coming-out” or becoming visible as a disabled person in which the ability to pass is complicated by the phenomenon of invisible disabilities deafness, chronic illness, certain cognitive and neurological impairments, etc.

In order to create a theory of the body that moves past the disempowering individualization of disability, Siebers begins by viewing disability identity as a form of social theory that exposes the power relations between able-bodied and disabled people Siebers Disability Theory is a field-defining book: An Unholy Crusade Person-first language: These dossiers — statements by public officials, quotations from newspaper editorials, short discussions of legal cases — are concrete examples of how disability is framed in the public purview by pundits, editorials, and media columnists.

Siebers’ diagnosis of the close connection between narcissism and disability politics is one of the best aspects of this book and helps explain why disability continues to be a missing element in social justice. Backlash Against the ADA.

While Siebers does not specifically address the characterization of autism as an empathy disorder, he points out that the psychological literature is rife with the idea that disability and suffering nearly always considered synonymous render disabled people narcissistic; because of their impairments, the literature alleges, disabled people are self-absorbed, trapped in a world of their own, uninterested in anyone else, and unable to love Siebers Comments Policy I have a very simple and intuitive comments policy: By looking at the body in this way, Siebers notes, one can easily see the lines of inclusion and exclusion drawn by the architects of architectural and social locations Siebers Underpinning all of these issues are two basic questions: Moreover, in seeing fragility as central to human life, Siebers argues that we can come to see that independence and dependence are both poles of a false dichotomy — a dichotomy that derives from an individualist paradigm untrue to the nature of humanity.

He notes that in Foucault’s distinction between the pre-modern soldier and the modern “docile” soldier, there lies an ableist slebers that prefers the former as a default. But as Siebers points out, the social model, by focusing on the social meanings of disability tends to dismiss the body as a kind of empty code of signifiers. Once we represent disability as a common human experience, it becomes much more difficult to yobin withholding rights because of physical difference. Siebers criticizes the ways that Michel Foucault’s theory of the docile body and bio-power have been used as an all-purpose definition of how persons with disability are medicalized.

Siebers has written a powerful manifesto that calls theory dissbility account and forces readers to think beyond our comfort zones.


After all, if disability is not a part of shared humanity, then it places human beings with disabilities outside of the collective of humanity. Intelligent, provocative, and challenging, Disability Theory revolutionizes the terrain of theory by providing indisputable evidence of the value and utility eisability a disability studies perspective can bring to key critical and cultural questions.

This focuses on the realism of the body and is especially urgent in relation to sexual performativity and physical suffering. And so we must ask the questions: Tobin Siebers is V. It is important not only for its often provocative explorations of such pressing dsability as pain, sexuality, and human rights, but also because Siebers is a major participant in one of the most vigorous debates within the field at the present time—the question disabolity methodology and how we do Disability Studies in the humanities.

Disability Theory

One of the most important things about this book is its discussion of the relations between sexuality and disability. In his book Disability Theory, Tobin Siebers raises a number of issues critical to disability studies.

Reviewed by Michael Davidson.

Cherney On Communication and Double Standards: The social theory inherent in disability identity, Siebers believes, can lead disabled people to realize that their personal suffering is shared and to join together to create safety, community, and justice Siebers And that’s all to the good. Tobin Siebers’ essays have been at the forefront of this critique, and this book gathers them together in what is one the most important contributions to disability studies since Lennard Davis’ Enforcing Normalcy.

At the same time, he advances the emerging field of disability studies by putting its core issues into contact with signal thinkers in cultural studies, literary theory, queer theory, gender studies, and critical race theory.

The ever-present fact of the fragility of human life is one that our culture turns from in its zeal to celebrate strength, youth, and able-bodiedness. Siebers addresses the questions of how disability theory and other forms of critical theory can challenge and inform one another, how disability theory can move past the poststructuralist position that all experience is simply a linguistic construct and give voice to the embodied experience of disability, and how identity politics can move the disability rights movement forward in its struggle for universal access.

Project MUSE Mission Project MUSE promotes the creation and dissemination of essential humanities and social science resources through collaboration with libraries, publishers, and scholars worldwide. It will also broaden the meaning of “access” to include accessibility to spaces and persons, sites of pleasure and erotic practices that are seldom included in discussions of universal design.

Account Options Sign in. This book has two audiences as its focus: