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Disability in literature: by Martin Mantle

Disability in literature: by Martin Mantle



This was presented at History in the Dixson, a readers advisory seminar, 7 March 2012

This was presented at History in the Dixson, a readers advisory seminar, 7 March 2012



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  • UK Equality ACT 2010 defines: 'A person has a disability if they have a physical or mental impairment, and the impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his or her ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.‘Schedule 1 of the Equality Act determines that the effect of impairment is long term if it has lasted for 12 months; it is likely to last for at least 12 months; or is likely to last for the rest of the person's life.
  • 1904 Royal commission on the decline of the birth-rate and mortality of infants in New South Wales
  • Image from http://www.chicagonow.com/blogs/different-spokes-life-with-a-disability/2010/05/does-the-disability-logo-need-a-makeover.html

Disability in literature: by Martin Mantle Disability in literature: by Martin Mantle Presentation Transcript

  • Disability Identity andMartin Mantle AustraliaReader’s AdvisorySeminarSLNSW 7 March 2012
  • Beliefs about disability Social and Legislation Institutional Language Literature
  • First description of disability in Australia?“Their sight is peculiarly fine, indeed theirexistence very often depends upon the accuracy ofit…once at Broken Bay I saw in a canoe an oldman who was perfectly blind. He wasaccompanied by a youth who paddled his canoe,and who, to my great surprise, sat behind him in it.This may, however, be in conformity to the idea ofrespect which is always paid to old age.”David Collins AN ACCOUNT OF THE ENGLISH COLONY IN NEW SOUTH WALES(1798). David Collins was the deputy judge advocate, who came to the colony with thefirst fleet.
  • Acts of Parliament• Immigration Act 1901• Invalid and Old Age Pensions Act 1908• Migration Act 1958• Social Services Act 1947• Disability reform package 1991• Disability Discrimination Act 1992• UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities ratified 2008
  • Disability Discrimination Act• "disability" , in relation to a person, means:• (a) total or partial loss of the persons bodily or mental functions; or• (b) total or partial loss of a part of the body; or• (c) the presence in the body of organisms causing disease or illness; or• (d) the presence in the body of organisms capable of causing disease or illness; or• (e) the malfunction, malformation or disfigurement of a part of the persons body; or• (f) a disorder or malfunction that results in the person learning differently from a person without the disorder or malfunction; or• (g) a disorder, illness or disease that affects a persons thought processes, perception of reality, emotions or judgment or that results in disturbed behaviour;• and includes a disability that:• (h) presently exists; or• (i) previously existed but no longer exists; or• (j) may exist in the future (including because of a genetic predisposition to that disability); or• (k) is imputed to a person.• To avoid doubt, a disability that is otherwise covered by this definition includes behaviour that is a symptom or manifestation of the disability.
  • Disability Discrimination Actions • S11: the defence of unjustifiable hardship • King vs. Jetstar (Jan 2012). Jetstar had discriminated against a wheelchair user by denying her a place on a flight that had already booked two other wheelchair users. But it was able to argue that having more than two wheelchair users on place entailed increased costs and increased inconvenience to other passengers (increased delays) and meant that it could use the provisions of the defence of unjustifiable hardship to avoid having to offer more seats on its flights.
  • Eugenics to Genetics• Eugenics: “well-born”• 1900-1940 • Disability as a threat• Genetics – 1953 Double helix DNA – 2003 Human genome project • Disability as a problem• Exercise: measuring “fit-ness” – "Physical fitness is the basis for all other forms of excellence” (John F Kennedy)
  • Language• Inclusive language. Avoid words like spaz, schizo, mong, retard, etc.• But what about the rest of language? – Blindness = ignorance. “She was blind to the consequences of her actions” – Why is this phrasing not inappropriate? SMH 19.2.12
  • Symbolism
  • Medical Model / Social Model Bod Environment y Mind Cultur e Sense Technology s
  • Disabled Fiction A Christmas carol (1843) For the term of his natural life (1874) Peter Pan (1904) The secret garden (1911)The fortunes of Richard Mahoney: Ultima Thule (1929) Harp in the south (1948) Lord of the flies (1954) Tim (1974) Cloudstreet (1991) Slow man (2005) Little people (2011)
  • Disabled Fiction Pitiable and pathetic Object of violence Sinister and evil To enhance the mood Super cripple Object of ridicule Their own worst enemy Burden Sexually abnormal Incapable of participating
  • Title recommendations DVDs: • Murderball – a documentary about wheelchair rugby • Unusual Travellers – a documentary about a group of men on a trip to Egypt Books: • Disability in Australia: Exposing a Social Apartheid by Gerard Coggin and Christopher Newell • Little people by Jane Sullivan • The black book of colours by Menena Cottin and Rosana Faria
  • Websites ABC Rampup http://www.abc.net.au/rampup/ BBC Ouch! http://www.bbc.co.uk/ouch/news.shtml World Health Organization: World Report on Disabilitieshttp://www.who.int/disabilities/world_report/2011/en/index.html
  • Disability informationHistory of disability South Australia• http://history.dircsa.org.au/University of Maryland• http://www.lib.umd.edu/guides/disability.htmlPWC 2011 report: Disability Expectations• http://www.pwc.com.au/industry/government/publications/disa bility-in-australia.htmLove rolls on! (blog)• http://loverollson.wordpress.com/
  • Finding resources• librarybooklists.org• librarything.com• Libraries Australia:  People with disabilities – fiction (485)  Physically handicapped– fiction (481) (Only 35 are cross-referenced) Blind – fiction
  • Disability and libraries?• Lists, lists and more lists in libraries• Readers Advisory wiki• A Readers Advisory book.• Adding subject headings to LA• Recognition disability action more than physical access: – Cooperative committees – Employment – Sensory walls