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The essays in this volume take as their impetus the relations of power that are produced by the social interactions of the disabled and nondisabled in medieval and early modern culture. This book demonstrates the necessity of the disability perspective to any consideration of embodied identity in the Middle Ages and beyond. In addition, it emphasizes the importance of placing social processes of identity formation within their particular cultural and historical moments. The essays here demonstrate the wide-ranging and pervasive presence of disability in the Middle Ages and, consequently, the importance of a disability perspective to a more complete understanding of medieval notions of the self and body in domestic, legal, medical, and social terms. The collection represents an initial attempt to grapple with the major challenges in medieval disability scholarship. First, this book compels medieval scholars to become aware of disability as an important subject of inquiry and to consider disability in their investigations of identity categories. Next, this collection asserts the importance of a historical emphasis in disability scholarship overall and affirms the Middle Ages as a period not to be neglected in the history of disability but mined for its rich, varied, and uniquely medieval standpoint. Lastly, by exploring disability within historical, legal, medical, and literary discourse of the Middle Ages, this book brings the disability perspective to the humanities, prompting scholars to carefully examine, to paraphrase Linton, what has always been there but has never been discussed.
Edwin Mellen Press Ltd
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