Visual Rhetorics of Disability in Popular Photography

The history of disabled people in the Western world is in part the history of being on display, of being visually conspicuous while politically and socially erased.” (2002, p 56)

Garland Thomson analyses the way the disabled body has always been the object of people’s stares, from being exhibited as prodigies or ill omens in antiquity, through the subjects of miraculous cures in Christianity, objects of exotica and ridicule from mediaeval times right up to the sideshow exhibits of the early industrial era, and finally the displayed case study in the medical sciences: “Disabled people have variously been objects of awe, scorn, terror, delight, inspiration, pity, laughter, or fascination-but they have always been stared at” (56). Continue reading “Visual Rhetorics of Disability in Popular Photography”