Embodiment and Representation

  • Jessica Clark


The body in disability studies has been characterised as an absent presence (Shakespeare and Watson 2001) and the discipline has been described as having a form of somatophobia (Goodley and Runswick-Cole 2013), paying little attention to the physical body or notions of embodiment. This can perhaps be explained by a desire to embrace the tenets of the social model, whereby environments and cultures are considered disabling and to move away from previously dominant ‘medicalised’ approaches that focussed on the individual and their impairment(s). However, in contemporary disability studies many theorists are attempting to reconnect with the body (Thomas 2007). Advocates of realist (Shakespeare 2006) or Nordic models (Tøssebro 2004) attempt to re-emphasise the importance of the corporeal for theorising about disability and for understanding the experiences of individuals with disabilities. The desire here is to bring the body back from the outskirts and acknowledge that there are distinct experiences and implications for individuals as a result of ‘being a disabled body’. The aim is to avoid ignoring the realities of the body, such as alternative communications or mobilities, exhaustion or pain, but to do so in such a way that we do not return to the medicalised, individualised approaches which characterised much twentieth-century work. This chapter aims to contribute to this resurgence by considering how the ‘disabled body’ is represented in popular culture. What bodies are audiences seeing on their screens, hearing about on their radios or tweeting about on their phones? How are disabled bodies constructed in the mediatised narratives available to children and young people and what is the implication of this for young audiences?


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jessica Clark
    • 1
  1. 1.University of SuffolkIpswichUK

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