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Crip Theory Attends To The Contemporary Cultures Of Disability And Queerness That Are Coming Out All Over Both Disability Studies And Queer Theory Are Centrally Concerned With How Bodies, Pleasures, And Identities Are Represented As Normal Or As Abject, But Crip Theory Is The First Book To Analyze Thoroughly The Ways In Which These Interdisciplinary Fields Inform Each OtherDrawing On Feminist Theory, African American And Latino A Cultural Theories, Composition Studies, Film And Television Studies, And Theories Of Globalization And Counter Globalization, Robert McRuer Articulates The Central Concerns Of Crip Theory And Considers How Such A Critical Perspective Might Impact Cultural And Historical Inquiry In The Humanities Crip Theory Puts Forward Readings Of The Sharon Kowalski Story, The Performance Art Of Bob Flanagan, And The Journals Of Gary Fisher, As Well As Critiques Of The Domesticated Queerness And Disability Marketed By The Millennium March, Or Bravo TV S Queer Eye For The Straight Guy McRuer Examines How Dominant And Marginal Bodily And Sexual Identities Are Composed, And Considers The Vibrant Ways That Disability And Queerness Unsettle And Re Write Those Identities In Order To Insist That Another World Is Possible


10 thoughts on “Crip Theory: Cultural Signs of Queerness and Disability

  1. says:

    I really appreciated the insights and analysis, if at times it feels a bit stuck on particular sources.McRuer weaves Derrida with Walmart ads, Bob Flanagan with Queer Eye, and Judy Heuman with As Good As it Gets within the project of highlighting the paradox of increased visibility and the allure of normativity Drawing on queer theories and traditions, McRuer raises questions and complexities in postmodern identities and experiences The voice of crip culture has largely been missing from this level of theory and analysis, and McRuer effectively draws it into the conversations while problematizing their analyses.While this academic style may be inaccessible in some ways, it draws on popular cultures and arts opening the theories.


  2. says:

    Absolutely pivotal in Disability Studies as a discipline His concept of compulsory able bodiedness has changed the trajectory of studies on the body Remarkable.


  3. says:

    McRuer s an insightful and creative critic In this second book the first was The Queer Renaissance he s also a very engaging presence on the page I wish I didn t have to stop reading so as to leave some time today for writing On the other hand, after only a couple of hours with Crip Theory1 I have some new ideas to bring back to my writing project.


  4. says:

    As a disabled person, a queer person, and a freelance cultural studies scholar, Crip Theory Cultural Signs of Queerness and Disability, by Robert McRuer is exactly the sort of book you d expect to find me reading sooner or later There are many reasons to consider the relationship between crip theory and queer theory, and how they relate to other bodies of theory feminist studies, race theory among them Disability and alternative sexualities are situated in the body, they share a history of being pathologised, and seen as states requiring medicalisation, rehabilitation, and isolation They carry high risks of stigmatisation They challenge and subvert narratives of normality in a way that gender and race do not As McRuer notes, Able bodiedness, even than heterosexuality, still largely masquerades as a nonidentity, as the natural order of things The book is structured as a series of essays examining various aspects of disability theory, or crip theory with particular attention to how they intersect with queer conceptualisations and experiences The first chapter focuses on ways of coming out and becoming identified as disabled McRuer points out that self identification as disabled is something that occurs in opposition to a compulsory ablebodiedness inherent in society, much as coming out as queer occurs in opposition to compulsory heterosexuality In many ways, the system of compulsory able bodiedness I analyzed in the introduction militates against crip identifications and practices, even as it inevitably generates them Certainly, disabled activists, artists, and others who have come out crip have done so in response to systemic able bodied subordination and oppression Stigmatized in and by a culture that will not or cannot accommodate their presence, crip performers in several senses of the word and in many different performance venues, from the stage to the street to the conference hall have proudly and collectively shaped stigmaphilic alternatives in, through, and around that abjection At the same time, if the constraints of compulsory able bodiedness push some politicized activists and artists with disabilities to come out crip, those constraints simultaneously keep many other disabled and nondisabled people from doing so The next section of McRuer s book is titled Capitalism and Disabled Identity Sharon Kowalski, Interdependency, and Queer Domesticity and is centered around the case of Sharon Kowalski and the disability informed strategies utilised by proponents of same sex marriage He argues in particular that intracommunity debates over gay marriage and other normalizing issues are centrally about disability and disability oppression the lesbian and gay emphasis on normalizing issues such as marriage deploys a fundamentally stigmaphobic strategy, where conformity is ensured through fear of stigma Trouble with Normal 43 The stigmaphobic strategy is most troubling, for Warner and other queers, because it proscribes larger discussions of social justice and queer cultural generativity To cite just one crucial example most of the complaints about lesbian and gay partners not being able to get health insurance through their spouse have not included an acknowledgement of how many people in general don t have adequate health insurance, let alone a broader critique of the corporate health insurance industry a critique that was fairly basic to earlier gay liberationist and feminist writing He further discusses ways in which the heterosexual nuclear family, constructed under capitalism as a means of reproduction of able bodied workers, is inimical to disabled domesticity As a site of re production, the disabled are increasingly moved out of the home and into institutions As a personal sidenote on this point, when I arrive at a hospital to receive medical care, I am generally assumed to be a transfer patient from a longterm care facility The idea that I live at home in my condition is not considered One side effect of this is that ambulance services, which are normally required only in emergency situations by able bodied people, but which are necessary for me to travel anywhere, are covered by various forms of government or private insurance for disabled people being transferred from institution to institution, but not for me if I travel from home to a medical facility for non emergency care, a loophole which has increasingly placed me in debt Disability and domesticity are viewed are mutually incompatible and no provision is made for those who insist that it is not In the third section of his book, Noncompliance The Transformation, Gary Fisher, and the Limits of Rehabilitation, McRuer starts by discussing the idea of rehabilitation as reflected in the situation of Sharon Kowalski Where Thompson and Kowalski perceived the possibility of a rehabilitation that involved a return to the home for care, and encompassed the idea of home as a queer and crip space, Kowalski s parents could only understand rehabilitation as a return to the compulsory state of heterosexual ablebodiedness for them, able bodied heterosexual normalcy began at home, and if Sharon could not return to such a state of normalcy, then she would have to remain incarcerated in nursing homes With this as a starting point, McRuer goes on to address disability studies critiques of ideologies of rehabilitation directly, through consideration of a few texts produced in the normalizing decade after Sharon Kowalski did, in fact, return home to live with Thompson and Patty Bresser The first of these texts is a documentary, The Transformation, which chronicles the intervention of a fundamentalist Christian mission in a community of Black and Latinx transfolk the film follows the recruitment of Sara, a trans woman, into the ministry and her transformation into Ricardo, showing the journey from the transgender streets of New York to a housed, married, and Fundamentalist Christian life in Dallas The second text is the journals and short stories of black writer Gary Fisher, Gary in Your Pocket Stories and Notebooks of Gary Fisher, edited and published by Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick three years after Fisher s death from complications of AIDS McRuer also discusses Audre Lorde s Cancer Journals.McRuer presents mainstream concepts of rehabilitation as focused on repairing and removing alterity and recreating homogeneity It implies that the rehabilitative contract everyone agrees , then, essentially stipulates that, in return for integration, no complaints will be made, no suggestions for how the world, and not the disabled body or mind, might be molded differently No complaints will be made even if the contract in effect relegates disabled people to the margins Rehabilitation becomes a process of normalisation, of demanding that the queer, disabled, damaged, different, degraded self be made normal, or be excluded, institutionalised, outcast Narratives that bring the subject home, render them as able, acceptable, capable, while remaining a queer and disabled person still are seen as resistant, non compliant The fourth essay in McRuer s examination of crip theory, Composing Queerness and Disability The Corporate Universality and Alternative Corporealities, is an exploration of composition, corporations, and corporeality Chapters 2 and 3 focused on highly charged institutional and institutionalized sites where cultural signs of queerness and disability appear and where, in many ways, they are made to disappear to shore up dominant forms of domesticity and rehabilitation, respectively In this chapter, I turn to another institutional site, the contemporary university, where anxieties about disability and queerness are likewise legible In particular, I extend the critical dialogue on composition and the contemporary university by arguing for alternative, and multiple, corporealities I contend that recentering our attention on the composing bodies in our classrooms can inaugurate and work to sustain a process of de composition that is, a process that provides an ongoing critique of both the corporate models into which we, as students and teachers of composition, are interpellated and the concomitant disciplinary compulsion to produce only dis embodied, efficient writers Most important, I make the somewhat polemical claim that bringing back in composing bodies means, inevitably, placing queer theory and disability studies at the center of composition theory As McRuer notes, one consequence of compulsory heterosexuality and ablebodiedness is that social and cultural institutions are constantly engaged in a process of composing straight, able bodies capable of production and reproduction within the corporate, capitalist system.The teaching of language usage, of composition, is a part of that process, of creating bodies fit to serve corporate needs through their uniform skills of composition and communication.The fifth section, Crip Eye fir the Normate Guy Queer Theory, Bob Flanagan, and the Disciplining of Disability Studies begins with a discussion of the politics of how society sees and represents for others to see the disabled Taking the media text Queer Eye for the Straight Guy as a point of departure, McRuer examines the ways in which representations of disability rooted in a model of progress and normalisation fail to serve the disabled but instead support the narrative of compulsory ablebodiedness In other words, some things don t keep getting better visual rhetorics of disability do not necessarily improve over time, nor do they posit or construct, instruct, or assure a disabled viewer McRuer offers a counterpoint in the masochistic performance art of Bob Flanagan, who incorporates both bdsm and his cystic fibrosis into his work, to the point if titling one performance piece Bob Flanagan s Sick suggesting In a moment of danger and noncompliance, however, some future person or collectivity might detect in that sick message the seemingly incomprehensible way to survive, and survive well, at the margins of time, space, and representation they might, in fact, detect that surviving well can paradoxically mean surviving sick Taken as a whole, McRuer s book interrogates and challenges assumptions, constructions and representations of disability, showing how disability queers the master cultural narrative if productive, corporatised, consumerist normality It raises questions, and dies not always offer answers, only new ways of considering the disability identity and its relation to the social structures that surround it It s not an easy book, but it is a most thought provoking one.


  5. says:

    Every once and awhile a book comes along that affects the way you see the world McTuer s Crip Theory is one of those books Looking at the intersection between queer theory and disability studies McRuer maps a way for crip theory to develop The range of resources he incorporates and the cultural instances he uses as a forum for analysis make this an important book for anyone interested in disability studies I cannot remember the last time I was so excited by a work of theory Compulsory heterosexuality is intertwined with compulsory ablebodiedness both systems work to re produce the able body and heterosexuality But precisely because these systems depend on a queer disabled existence that can never be quite be contained, able bodied heterosexuality s hegemony is always in danger of collapse 31 In many ways, the late queer theorist Gloria Anzaldua serves as a model for me in this risky project in the context of this chapter she might be identified as the late crip theorist who was always adept at noting both how various progressive movements were congruent and how difficult it could be, nonetheless, to bride the gaps between them From one queer historical perspective, it is fortuitous that Anzaldua writes, in This Bridge Called My Back Writings by Radical Women of Color, that we are the queer groups, the people that don t belong anywhere, not in the dominant world nor completely within our own respective cultures Combined we cover so many oppressions But the overwhelming oppression is the collective fact that we do not fit, and because we do not fit we are a threat La Prieta, 209 37 The squint eyed, the perverse, the half dead in short, those who cross over, pass over, or go through the confines of the normal Borderlands La Frontera, 3 39 As Cindy Patton suggests, rather than never talking in private the U.S heterosexual model , gay men in North America and Europe committed to an emancipatory model continually talked and debated safer sex in public and thus did not need to grill our partners, however multiple, in private indeed, when the private grilling didn t happen it on some level marked one s political commitment to communal solidarity Fatal Advice 108 111 Inventing AIDS, 46 49 These commitments to safer practices and to textured, public conversations about sex validated that the variety of life affirming cultural forms and relations we had generated outside compulsory heterosexuality, and outside the couple form, would remain viable 55 56 The image of the Good Gay, he writes, is never invoked without its shadow in mind The Bad Queer, the kind who has sex, who talks about, and who builds with other queers a way of life that ordinary folk do not understand or control 114 Micheal Warner 82 In Talmadge Wright s study of inner city homelessness, to be out of place entails risking inspection by others, having one s identity defined by others as suspect, as deviant , or criminal, or as just sick Homeless bodies, poor bodies, visible to passerby, visible to the streets, are open to the public s gaze, to the gaze of authority 118 One paradox facing and shaping the queer public intellectual, however, is that she or he so often speaks or writes about challenges to authoritative systems like heteronormativity from authorized, and heteronormative, spaces often, but by no means always, the small space for authoritative queer speech that has been forged, or granted, within the academy 132 As queer and disability studies have repeatedly shown, the bourgeoise culture of the past few centuries has only become obsessed with the composed, self possessed, norma subject, properly located in a hierarchical social order 153 The immense popularity of the shows freak shows between the Jacksonian and Progressive Eras suggests that the onlookers needed to constantly reaffirm the difference between them and us at a time when immigration, emancipation of the slaves, and female suffrage confounded previously reliable physical indices of status and privilege such as maleness and Western European features Extraordinary Bodies 192 193


  6. says:

    This book had been on my to read list for at least two years, so I was excited to finally get to read it, but itdidn t quite live up to my expectations The book attempts to discuss a way of conceptualizing disability theory and disability studies by discussing its similarities with queer theory, often comparing the two and using one as a lens to look at the other As a queer disabled person, this appealed to me however, McRuer doesn t really discuss whether he himself is disabled, which kind of leaves me with a weird feeling Since crip and cripple are slurs used against physically disabled folks, it s inappropriate for able bodied people to use it My biggest complaint with the book, however, is that it was really lacking in terms of a racial component to the analyses McRuer skirts around the issue occasionally, using some examples of people of color, but primarily cites white authors from the queer theory canon and does not spend nearly enough time expanding his new theoretical basis to include a racial lens, and I fear that that simply perpetuates racist structures within queer and disability theories both McRuer also neglects to talk about trans people aside from one oddly placed example from a documentary called The Transformation which focused on a trans woman of color, if I remember correctly and transmisogyny cissexism, which seems to me to be a gross oversight Overall the book was okay, but I wanted way out of it.


  7. says:

    In Crip Theory 2006 , Robert McRuer develops a crip theory, understanding ability to be similar to sexuality, in that both able bodiedness and heterosexuality are compulsory, both can never fully be achieved His critique is placed within a neoliberal ideology that sees identity as flexible, in which identity is not fully stigmatized, difference is celebrated to a degree , and even normal folks are allowed flexibility He explains that this flexibility is often controlled by allowing the queer or disabled subject to appear, for the heterosexual able bodied person to be slightly queer and disabled, only for an epiphany moment in which the heterosexual, able bodied subject recovers from crisis and re enters the heterosexual, able bodied order queer and crip subjects then disappear or lose their queerness and cripness His example is As Good As It Gets Introduction.


  8. says:

    McRuer makes one point the compulsory nature of able bodiedness which was crucial for crip theory but in the mean time he reduces his arguments into nothingness and is an excellent case of a man with privilege putting words into the mouths of others who are not speaking for themselves In several cases, he actually takes on the identities of others by virtue of proximity and in other cases, he gives people identities they seem like they would never have chosen Coupling a condescending tone with a seeming refusal to admit that he has defined Crip in a limited way made this almost intolerable.


  9. says:

    A fascinating work at the intersection of queer theory and disability studies that makes use of a wide range of cultural texts to argue for a accessible world McRuer argues that just as compulsory heterosexuality functions as a norm in American society to the exclusion of queer folks, compulsory able bodiedness also functions as an extension of capital to subjugate the disabled McRuer both crips queer theory and queers disability studies, offering a view of embodiment that challenges notions of rehabilitation and compliance.


  10. says:

    McRuer queers the popular disability studies notion that disabled is the one identity category that, sooner or later, we ll all own he adds the idea that, sooner or later, any body can become normate or, the figure by which we define normative As a consequence, he introduces a method for looking for crips, or cripping a text, so that we do not only, per disability studies, see disability clearly, in context, but also, disability becomes desirable and politically potent.