SOCIAL SCIENCES

Disability Experiences: Memoirs, Autobiographies, and Other Personal Narratives

Macmillan Reference USA: Gale Cengage. 2 vols. May 2019. 913p. ed. by ed. by G. Thomas Couser & Susannah B. Mintz. illus. index. ISBN 9781410388049. $325; ebk. ISBN 9781410388070. REF
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Using the broad definition of disability established by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, which “includes physical, cognitive, and learning disabilities, mental illness, chronic illness, eating disorders, and addiction,” Couser (emeritus, Hofstra Univ; Memoir: An Introduction) and Mintz (English, Skidmore Coll.; Hurt & Pain: Literature and the Suffering Body) examine memoirs and other personal narratives by those living with dyslexia, depression, autism, Lyme disease, spinal injuries, cancer, chronic pain, dwarfism, and more. Selections range in date from the 1470s (Teresa de Cartagena’s Grove of the Infirm) to 2018 (Porochista Khakpour’s Sick). Each article offers key facts (subject or author birth and death dates, occupation, nationality, genre, time period), an overview of the work, historical and cultural context, critical discussion, sidebars (often primary source excerpts), themes, a bibliography, and recommended reading. In the ebook edition, cross-reference links appear at the bottom of each essay. The format, detailed index, and two tables of contents (standard and thematic) make this work easily accessible. There are also two pages of classroom use suggestions for humanities and social sciences courses.
VERDICT This unusual approach to disability studies will be of interest to faculty and students researching disability studies, life writing, anthropology, psychology, and sociology.

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