The forgotten other: disability studies and the classical body


  • Dr Ellen Adams

    King's College London

Project summary

There has been little exploration of disability in classics and associated disciplines, whereas other areas of identity politics, such as gender, sexuality and race, have received far more attention. While there is a growing interest in people with disabilities in antiquity, there is little awareness or crossover with the ethical and political issues currently debated in the social sciences and medical humanities. These explore how people experience impairments, how societies respond to disabilities and even redefine what it is to be human.

This exploratory project will examine the insights that disability studies can bring to classics and our ideas of the classical body, using themes including: sensory impairment and embodied experience; the classical bodily ideal and modern normalcy; patient-doctor discourse in medical intervention; prostheses, body boundaries and identity; bioethics and the value of the impaired body; and engagement with art using a visual language such as British Sign Language or with a visual impairment through audio description or touch.

I will organise two workshops: one that brings together specialists in classics and disability studies under linking themes; and one that engages with museums' access programmes for people with hearing and visual impairments.