Disability and Art History: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Disability and Art History

1st Edition

Edited by Ann Millett-Gallant, Elizabeth Howie


200 pages | 65 B/W Illus.

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Paperback: 9780815392132
pub: 2017-11-22
Hardback: 9781472453525
pub: 2016-10-24
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pub: 2016-10-26
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This is the first book of its kind to feature interdisciplinary art history and disability studies scholarship. Art historians have traditionally written about images of figures with impairments and artworks by disabled artists, without integrating disability studies scholarship, while many disability studies scholars discuss works of art, but do not necessarily incorporate art historical research and methodology. The chapters in this volume emphasize a shift away from the medical model of disability that is often scrutinized in art history by considering the social model and representations of disabled figures from a range of styles and periods, mostly from the twentieth century. Topics addressed include visible versus invisible impairments; scientific, anthropological, and vernacular images of disability; and the theories and implications of looking/staring versus gazing. They also explore ways in which art responds to, envisions, and at times stereotypes and pathologizes disability. The insights offered in this book contextualize understanding of disability historically, as well as in terms of medicine, literature, and visual culture.


'Disability and Art History makes a definitive claim for the importance of disability in art. Moving seamlessly from the past to the present, and indicating an influential through line between the two, the collection of essays shows not only how important disability is to art works, but how disability becomes a fascinating focus for artists of all kinds. The book particularly illustrates how transgressive disability art can be and how different bodies and minds redefine what we think about when we think about visual art.' - Lennard. J. Davis, University of Illinois, USA

'This original book offers fresh insights as it examines art history's blindness to the burgeoning scholarship in disability studies. Rather than mock the discipline's impairments or seek a cure, the diverse essays think deeply about their social and cultural significance across an intriguing range of historical periods and places.' - Jane Blocker, University of Minnesota, USA

'Millett-Gallant & Howie’s Disability and Art History provides scholarly examples of how representations of disability reoccur and are recycled in visual culture. From photography to cinema, from Meso-American pottery figures to German Expressionism, from the disabled as artist to the artistic rediscovery of older representations of the disabled, this first-rate collection provides much for the Disability Studies classroom and will add substantially to a rethinking of Art History to introduce the student to the world of visual representations of disability.' - Sander L. Gilman, Emory University, USA

Table of Contents

List of Figures

Notes on Contributors


Chapter 1: Artists and Muses: Peter’s World and Other Photographs by Susan Harbage Page (Ann Millett-Gallant)

Chapter 2: Exploiting, Degrading, and Repellent: Against a Biased Interpretation of Contemporary Art about Disability (Nina Heindl)

Chapter 3: Nothing is Missing: Spiritual Elevation of a Visually Impaired Moche Shaman (Rebecca Stone)

Chapter 4: Divining Disability: Criticism as Diagnosis in Mesoamerican Art History (William Gassaway)

Chapter 5: Difference and Disability in the Photography of Margaret-Bourke-White (Keri Watson)

Chapter 6: Representing Disability in Post-World War II Photography (Timothy Hiles)

Chapter 7: The Disabled Veteran of World War I in the Mirror of Contemporary Art: the Reception of Otto Dix's Painting The Cripples (1920) in Yael Bartana’s Film Degenerate Art Lives (2010) (Anne Marno)

Chapter 8: Disabling Surrealism: Reconstituting Surrealist Tropes in Contemporary Art (Amanda Cachia)

Chapter 9: The Dandy Victorian: Yinka Shonibare’s Allegory of Disability and Passing (Elizabeth Howie)

Chapter 10: Crafting Disabled Sexuality: The Visual Language of Nomy Lamm’s Wall of Fire (Shayda Kafai)


About the Editors

Ann Millett-Gallant is a Senior Lecturer for the Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies Program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She holds a PhD in art history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and her research focuses on representations of disability in art and visual culture. She is the author of two books, The Disabled Body in Contemporary Art and Re-Membering: Putting Mind and Body Back Together Following Traumatic Brain Injury, as well as a number of essays for academic journals. Prior to this volume, she has chaired several panels at academic conferences about and co-edited a special issue of the Review of Disability Studies on interdisciplinary art history and disability studies research. She also enjoys painting and drawing. Visit her website at annmg.com.

Elizabeth Howie is Associate Professor of Art History at Coastal Carolina University in Conway, South Carolina. She received her PhD in art history at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Publications include "Proof of the Forgotten: A Benjaminian Reading of Daguerre’s Two Views of the Boulevard du Temple," in Walter Benjamin and the Aesthetics of Change: An Interdisciplinary Approach; "Bringing Out the Past: Courtly Cruising and Nineteenth-Century American Men’s Passionate Friendship Portraits," in Love Objects: Emotion, Design, and Material Culture; and a co-edited (with Ann Millett-Gallant) special issue of the Review of Disability Studies on interdisciplinary art history and disability studies research.

About the Series

Interdisciplinary Disability Studies

Disability studies has made great strides in exploring power and the body. This series extends the interdisciplinary dialogue between disability studies and other fields by asking how disability studies can influence a particular field. It will show how a deep engagement with disability studies changes our understanding of the following fields: sociology, literary studies, gender studies, bioethics, social work, law, education, or history. This ground-breaking series identifies both the practical and theoretical implications of such an interdisciplinary dialogue and challenges people in disability studies as well as other disciplinary fields to critically reflect on their professional praxis in terms of theory, practice, and methods.

Series editor: Mark Sherry, The University of Toledo, USA

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General