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Lennard Davis


"Lenny Davis’s admirers will welcome his
most recent work, Bending over Backwards:
Disability, Dismodernism, and Other Difficult
Positions. This compilation of nine separate essays
offers a panoramic view of the author-activist’s
evolving ideas about disability, disability studies,
and literary historical criticism. It covers a breadth
of topics--the human genome project, ADA court
cases, concepts of citizenship, the history of the
novel, homosexuality, postmodernist theory, the
rise of Disability Studies, etc. A recent addition to
the NYU series Cultural Fronts, which seeks to
promote works of cultural criticism with policy
implications, this is not intended primarily for an
audience of historians. Still, Davis’s work offers
creative and challenging examples that may be
useful to our discipline and particularly to
Disability historians.
Davis argues that disability, as a category of
identity, has the potential to transform the
postmodern notion of identity. In previous works,
which include Enforcing Normalcy and The
Disability Studies Reader, Davis outlined the
social, scientific, and linguistic processes that
inform the meaning of "disability." In an edited
collection of his parents’ correspondence, Shall I
Say a Kiss, and in his own memoir, My Sense of
Silence, Davis revealed in poignant and personal
images the complexities of living as/with Deaf
people. Inspired by Jacques Lacan and Michel
Foucault, Davis melds the theoretical with the

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