A group of Liverpool Hope University academics have contributed to a ‘field-defining’ new book that examines the complex interplay between non-disabled people and disabled people.
The book, Metanarratives of Disability: Culture, Assumed Authority, and the Normative Social Order, has been published in the UK and USA and forms part of the Autocritical Disability Studies Routledge series.
The book is edited by Hope’s Professor David Bolt, Professor of Disability Studies and Director of the University’s Centre for Culture & Disability Studies, and brings together 21 contributors from England, Canada, India, the United States, and Wales.
There are chapters from Hope’s Dr Owen Barden, Associate Professor in Disability Studies, and Dr Erin Pritchard, Lecturer in Disability Studies, who discuss representations of learning disability and dwarfism.
Meanwhile Dr Claire Penketh, Associate Professor and Subject Lead in Disability Studies, was responsible for the artwork featured in the work.
Describing the themes explored in the publication, Prof. Bolt says: “The problem tackled in the book is how easily non-disabled people assume authority over disabled people as a manifestation of the normative social order, itself underpinned by a displacement of personal narratives in favour of overarching metanarratives.
“The book critiques cultural representations and social encounters of people who have conditions such as blindness, mental illness, OCD, autism, Down syndrome, chronic pain, diabetes, cancer, HIV and AIDS, sarcoidosis, and arthritis.
“As part of the new Autocritical Disability Studies series, the book is theoretical on many levels but remains very relevant to lived realities. Indeed, authenticity is posited in the book as a guiding principle, for not only are the contributors researchers in the field but it is also the case that most have direct or intimate experience of the conditions under discussion.
“The stance of the book – and the Autocritical Disability Studies series more broadly – is not that only disabled people can contribute but that non-disabled colleagues must be truly comfortable being led by non-normative principles, not to mention professors, directors, editors, managers, chairs, and so on.”
Prof. Bolt adds that the book exemplifies ‘Hope’s research-informed approach to learning and teaching’ and says it will also form the basis of a new course set to run in the School of Social Science with Level H students in the forthcoming academic year.