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Making Disability Modern

Making Disability Modern

Design Histories

by Bess Williamson and Elizabeth Guffey
Publication Date: 06/10/2020
RRP  $39.99 $36.75

Making Disability Modern: Design Histories brings together leading scholars from a range of disciplinary and national perspectives to examine how designed objects and spaces contributes to the meanings of ability and disability from the late 18th century to the present day, and in homes, offices, and schools to realms of national and international politics.

The contributors reveal the social role of objects - particularly those designed for use by people with disabilities, such as walking sticks, wheelchairs, and prosthetic limbs - and consider the active role that makers, users and designers take to reshape the material environment into a usable world. But it also aims to make clear that definitions of disability-and ability-are often shaped by design.

History of art / art & design styles
Publication Date:
Bloomsbury Publishing USA
Country of origin:
United States
Dimensions (mm):

"This book makes visible often-obscured aspects of human life, the built environment, and societal factors that materialize through design, disability, and their intersections over history and across continents."
Meryl Alper, Assistant Professor of Communication Studies, Northeastern University, USA

"A fascinating collection of critical cultural histories of disability objects, woven together with a narrative of 'the modern' and its connotations in society, industry and design. We need more books like this to connect disability studies and design."
Graham Pullin, Professor of Design and Disability, University of Dundee, UK

"At last! Since the publication in 2002 of the groundbreaking anthology, Artificial Parts, Practical Lives: Modern Histories of Prosthetics (NYU Press), scholarship has boomed at the intersection of disability studies and the history of technology. This new collection from Bloomsbury brings readers up to date with developments in the field, revising familiar historical throughlines with an original "design model of disability." Rather than situate disability outside modernism, with its predilection for clean lines and average bodies, the authors in Making Disability Modern rethink "dismodern" design and the modern ambitions of disabled designers themselves."
Mara Mills, Associate Professor of Media, Culture and Communication, New York University, USA

Bess Williamson

Bess Williamson is Assistant Professor of Design History at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she teaches courses on modern and contemporary design in relation to politics and social change.

Her book, Designing an Accessible America: A History of Design and Disability in the United States, describes the role of design in the U.S. Disability Rights cause of the last half of the 20th century.

Elizabeth Guffey

Elizabeth Guffey is the Juanita and Joseph Leff Distinguished Professor at Purchase College, State University of New York. Founding Editor of the journal Design and Culture, she is also the author of Retro: The Culture of Revival and Posters: A Global History.

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