This book sheds new light on the memoir boom by asking: Is the genre basically about disability? Memoirs have enjoyed great popularity in recent years, experiencing significant sales, prominent reviews, and diverse readerships. ""Signifying Bodies"" shows that at the heart of the memoir phenomenon is our fascination with writing that focuses on what it means to live in, or be, an anomalous body - in other words, what it means to be disabled. Previous literary accounts of the disabled body had often portrayed it as a stable entity possibly signifying moral deviance or divine disfavor, but contemporary writers with disabilities are defining themselves and depicting their bodies in new ways. Using the insights of disability studies and source material ranging from the Old and New Testaments to the works of authors like Lucy Grealy and Simi Linton and including contemporary films like Million Dollar Baby, G. Thomas Couser sheds light on a broader cultural phenomenon, exploring topics such as the ethical issues involved in disability memoirs, the rhetorical patterns these memoirs frequently employ, and the complex relationship between disability narrative and disability law.
G. Thomas Couser is Professor of English at Hofstra University. His other books include American Autobiography: The Prophetic Mode; Altered Egos: Authority in American Autobiography; Recovering Bodies: Illness, Disability, and Life Writing; and Vulnerable Subjects: Ethics and Life Writing.