By Robert McRuer

About Robert McRuer

Robert McRuer is Professor of English and Chair of the Department of English at the George Washington University. He is the author of Crip Theory: Cultural Signs of Queerness and Disability (NYU Press, 2006); The Queer Renaissance: Contemporary American Literature and the Reinvention of Lesbian and Gay Identities (NYU Press, 1997). With Anna Mollow, he coedited Sex and Disability (2012). He is completing a manuscript tentatively titled Cripping Austerity.


“Normal,” because of its easy associations with typical, ordinary, or unremarkable, appears to many people as a benign word, nothing more than a neutral descriptor of certain groups, bodies, or behaviors that are more common than others. Yet more than almost any other keyword in American studies and cultural studies, “normal” carries with it a history of discursive and literal violence against those who could never hope to be described by the term. Sexual minorities, disabled people, racialized populations, immigrants, and many others have at times found themselves among the motley group that the Chicana lesbian feminist Gloria Anzaldúa terms los atravesados: “those who cross over, pass over, or go through the confines of the ‘normal’” (1987, 3). For Anzaldúa and innumerable other critics of the normal, this border crossing has consequences. Lives lived beyond the confines of the normal have been marked as illegitimate and targeted for surveillance, …

Embodiments, Feelings, Power
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