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Disability in Twentieth-Century German Culture

Carol Poore

A groundbreaking exploration of disability in Germany, from the Weimar Republic to present-day reunified Germany


Description

Disability in Twentieth-Century German Culture covers the entire scope of Germany's most tragic and tumultuous century---from the Weimar Republic to the current administration---revealing how central the notion of disability is to modern German cultural history. By examining a wide range of literary and visual depictions of disability, Carol Poore explores the contradictions of a nation renowned for its social services programs yet notorious for its history of compulsory sterilization and eugenic dogma. This comprehensive volume focuses particular attention on the horrors of the Nazi era, when those with disabilities were considered "unworthy of life," but also investigates other previously overlooked topics including the exile community's response to disability, socialism and disability in East Germany, current bioethical debates, and the rise and gains of Germany's disability rights movement.

Richly illustrated, wide-ranging, and accessible, Disability in Twentieth-Century German Culture gives all those interested in disability studies, German studies, visual culture, Nazi history, and bioethics the opportunity to explore controversial questions of individuality, normalcy, citizenship, and morality. The book concludes with a memoir of the author's experiences in Germany as a person with a disability.

"Insightful and meticulously researched . . . Using disability as a concept, symbol, and lived experience, the author offers valuable new insights into Germany's political, economic, social, and cultural character . . . Demonstrating the significant ‘cultural phenomena' of disability prior to and long after Hitler's reign achieves several important theoretical and practical aims . . . Highly recommended."
---Choice

"Comprehensively researched, abundantly illustrated and written in accessible and engaging prose . . .  With great skill, Poore weaves diverse types of evidence, including historical sources, art, literature, journalism, film, philosophy, and personal narratives into a tapestry which illuminates the cultural, political, and economic processes responsible for the marginalization, stigmatization, even elimination, of disabled people---as well as their recent emancipation."
---Disability Studies Quarterly

"A major, long-awaited book. The chapter on Nazi images is brilliant---certainly the best that has been written in this arena by any scholar."
---Sander L. Gilman, Emory University

"An important and pathbreaking book . . . immensely interesting, it will appeal not only to students of twentieth-century Germany but to all those interested in the growing field of disability studies."
---Robert C. Holub, University of Tennessee

Carol Poore is Professor of German Studies at Brown University.

Illustration: "Monument to the Unknown Prostheses" by Heinrich Hoerle © 2007 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

A volume in the series Corporealities: Discourses of Disability

Praise / Awards

  • "Highly recommended . . . Insightful and meticulously researched."
    Choice

  • "Comprehensively researched, abundantly illustrated and written in accessible and engaging prose . . . With great skill, Poore weaves diverse types of evidence, including historical sources, art, literature, journalism, film, philosophy, and personal narratives into a tapestry which illuminates the cultural, political, and economic processes responsible for the marginalization, stigmatization, even elimination, of disabled people–as well as their recent emancipation."
    Disability Studies Quarterly

  • "This work is a major contribution...a rich introduction to disability history in twentieth-century Germany, and hopefully it will stimulate further work in this field."
    —Richard Weikart, American Historical Review

  • "Carole Poore's book is the first comprehensive work on the topic of disability in German history and culture in any language. In many ways, her book is an exploration of 20th-century German social and cultural history through disability-related themes. It traces conflicting and shifting meanings of health, illness, impairment, and disability in specific historical contexts, relates them to mechanisms of social inclusion and exclusion . . ."
    Journal of Social History, Project MUSE

  • "Poore’s book is the first major study of its kind. For Germanist scholars, it establishes disability as a new lens through which to view German culture, generating the hope of fresh readings of both canonical and less-well-known texts. For scholars of cultural disability, it offers a valuable showcasing of diverse German media, adding to our stock of texts which model disability as a crucial cultural phenomenon."
    ---Journal of  Literary & Cultural Disability Studies
  • Winner: Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for Studies in Germanic Languages and Literatures from the Modern Language Association

  • Winner: DAAD/German Studies Association 2008 Book Prize

Look Inside

Copyright © 2007, University of Michigan. All rights reserved. Posted August 2007 and February 2008.

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Product Details

  • 6 x 9.25.
  • 432pp.
  • 30 b&w photographs.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 2007
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-11595-2

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  • Paper
  • 2009
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  • 978-0-472-03381-2

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