The nineteenth century was the period during which disability was conceptualised, categorised, and defined. The industrial revolution, advances in medicine, the emergence of philanthropy and the growth of asylums all played their part in creating what today’s society describes as the medical model of disability.
Disability can be traced through many forms: in material culture and literary genres; scientific, medical and official inquiries; art; architecture; the history of disabled charities; disabled people’s experiences; the legacy inherited by disabled people today of phrenology and physiognomy; events such as the 1880 Milan Conference, and the taxonomies and categories of disability – the handicapped; the deaf and dumb; the feeble minded; the blind; the imbecile and the cretin. The legacy of the relationship between the body, the scientific and the literary text; the intersection of disability, theories of evolution and anthropology, gender and degeneration. How can we draw disabled voices and testimonies together to construct ‘the long view’? What are the advantages and the challenges of teaching about disability and the disabled in the Victorian period?
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Heather Jones, Leeds Centre for Victorian Studies, Leeds Trinity University College, Brownberrie Lane, Horsforth, Leeds, LS18 5HD, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, tel: +44 (0)113 2837126
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