Disability Studies and the Classical Body : The Forgotten Other book cover
1st Edition

Disability Studies and the Classical Body
The Forgotten Other

Edited By

Ellen Adams

ISBN 9780367221959
Published May 14, 2021 by Routledge
294 Pages 19 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

By triangulating the Greco-Roman world, classical reception, and disability studies, this book presents a range of approaches that reassess and reimagine traditional themes, from the narrative voice to sensory studies.

It argues that disability and disabled people are the ‘forgotten other’ of not just Classics, but also the Humanities more widely. Beyond the moral merits of rectifying this neglect, this book also provides a series of approaches and case studies that demonstrate the intellectual value of engaging with disability studies as classicists and exploring the classical legacy in the medical humanities. The book is presented in four parts: ‘Communicating and controlling impairment, illness and pain’; ‘Using, creating and showcasing disability supports and services’; ‘Real bodies and retrieving senses: disability in the ritual record’; and ‘Classical reception as the gateway between Classics and disability studies’. Chapters by scholars from different academic backgrounds are carefully paired in these sections in order to draw out further contrasts and nuances and produce a sum that is more than the parts. The volume also explores how the ancient world and its reception have influenced medical and disability literature, and how engagements with disabled people might lead to reinterpretations of familiar case studies, such as the Parthenon.

This book is primarily intended for classicists interested in disabled people in the Greco-Roman past and in how modern disability studies may offer insights into and reinterpretations of historic case studies. It will also be of interest to those working in medical humanities, sensory studies, and museum studies, and those exploring the wider tension between representation and reality in ancient contexts. As such, it will appeal to people in the wider Humanities who, notwithstanding any interest in how disabled people are represented in literature, art, and cinema, have had less engagement with disability studies and the lived experience of people with impairments.


FREE CHAPTER AVAILABLE! Please go to https://bit.ly/3pzpO7n to access the Introduction, which we have made freely available.


Table of Contents

List of figures

List of tables


Foreword by Lennard J. Davies



Chapter 1. ‘Disability studies and the classical body: the forgotten other. Introduction’

Ellen Adams


Part 1. Communicating and controlling impairment, illness and pain


Ellen Adams

Chapter 2. Two troubles: the dramatic tragedy of Western medicine.

Michael J. Flexer and Brian Hurwitz

Chapter 3. ‘There is a pain – so utter’: Narrating chronic pain and disability in antiquity and modernity.

Georgia Petridou


Part 2. Using, creating and showcasing disability supports and services


Ellen Adams

Chapter 4. Prostheses in classical antiquity: a taxonomy.

Jane Draycott

Chapter 5. Displaying the forgotten other in museums: prostheses at the National Museums Scotland.

Sophie Goggins

Chapter 6. New light on ‘the viewer’: sensing the Parthenon galleries in the British Museum.

Ellen Adams


Part 3. Real bodies and retrieving senses: disability in the ritual record


Ellen Adams

Chapter 7. Interactional sensibilities: bringing ancient disability studies to its archaeological senses.

Emma-Jayne Graham

Chapter 8. Rational capacity and incomplete adults: the mentally impaired in classical antiquity.

Patricia Baker and Sarah Francis


Part 4: Classical reception as the gateway between Classics and disability studies


Ellen Adams

9. The immortal forgotten other gang: dwarf Cedalion, lame Hephaestus, and blind Orion.

Edith Hall

10. A history of our own? Using Classics in disability histories

Helen King



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Ellen Adams is Senior Lecturer in Classical Art and Archaeology at King’s College London, UK. She has published extensively on Minoan Crete, including a book entitled Cultural Identity in Minoan Crete: Social Dynamics in the Neopalatial Period (2017, CUP). For many years, she has also investigated how a dialogue between disability studies and Classics might enhance both disciplines.


"With its exploratory approach and chapters addressing a wide range of different topics and methods, this collection represents an admirable contribution to a growing appreciation for a disability-informed approach to Humanities research generally... I am grateful to the volume’s editor and authors for a volume that has the potential to provoke readers into considering how disability can inform their own work and teaching." - Bryn Mawr Classical Review