Human

The term “human” occupies a central place in disability studies because people living with physical, sensory, intellectual, or psychosocial impairments have so often been deemed to be not fully human or even animals with human faces. However, people with disabilities are hardly alone in this, for members of various groups and populations have been (and, indeed, continue to be) marginalized as the Other at different historical moments. In addition to those who have been labeled deaf, dumb, blind, idiot, mad, and leprous, a list of groups whose humanity has been discounted or denied includes slaves, women, colonized populations, and people of color/nonwhite people.

Literature has proven to be a powerful place to understand how the human has been constructed. Representations often have proceeded by way of negation: those who are not considered fully human define what it is to be so. Literary figures that have served to engage in this …

This essay may be found on page 98 of the printed volume.

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