We use cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out more

E-book purchase
Choose a subscription

Downloaded copy on your device does not expire. Includes 4 years of Bookshelf Online.


Where applicable, tax will be added to the above price prior to payment.

E-book purchasing help



Historical Intersections of Disability and Masculinity

Edited by Kathleen M. Brian and James W. Trent, Jr.

Publication Date - 03 October 2017

ISBN: 9780190458997

368 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches


Phallacies: Historical Intersections of Disability and Masculinity is a collection of essays that focuses on disabled men who negotiate their masculinity as well as their disability. The chapters cover a broad range of topics: institutional structures that define what it means to be a man with a disability; the place of women in situations where masculinity and disability are constructed; men with physical and war-related disabilities; male hysteria, suicide clubs, and mercy killing; male disability in literature and popular culture; and more. All the authors regard masculinity and disability in the historical contexts of the Americas and Western Europe, with particular attention to the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Taken together, the essays in this volume offer a nuanced portrait of the complex, and at times competing, interactions between masculinity and disability.


  • Addresses an under-explored topic that is applicable to the academic disciplines of history, gender studies, American studies, sociology, cultural studies, disability studies, social work, psychology, etc.
  • Examines the intersections between masculinity and disability across the past 60 years.
  • Integrates material on several types of disabilities -- psychiatric disabilities, blindness, physical disabilities, intellectual disability, and war-related disabilities.
  • Weaves issues of class and race into their narratives of masculinity and disability, and addresses clinical and policy implications.
  • Synergistically integrates critiques related to gender, disability, cultural history, sociology, and women's studies in diverse and creative ways.

About the Author(s)

Kathleen M. Brian, PhD, is a Lecturer in the Liberal Studies Department at Western Washington University. Brian's recent work has appeared in the Journal of Literary and Disability Studies, the History of Psychiatry, and the Bulletin of the History of Medicine.

James W. Trent, Jr., PhD, is a Visiting Scholar in the Heller School at Brandeis University. He is author of The Manliest Man: Samuel G. Howe and the Contours of Nineteenth-Century American Reform (2012) and Inventing the Feeble Mind: A History of Intellectual Disability in the United States (2016).


That masculinity is an embodied practice has become epigrammatic to researchers. But what about when that body is damaged, incomplete, disfigured, partial, or somehow other? In this breakthrough interdisciplinary collection, 17 scholars and writers -- historians, literary and media scholars, contemporary writers -- explore the intersection of disabilities and masculinities, enabling us to "see" that embodiment, both the normative and the problematized, anew. - Michael Kimmel, SUNY Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies, Executive Director, Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities

Phallacies provides an essential map to multiple locations where disabilities and masculinities have materialized, from clinics, to courtrooms, to theatres, to public streets, to private domestic spaces. The importance of studying disability at the intersections of gender, sexuality, race, and class has been firmly established in the vibrant, interdisciplinary field of disability studies. However, more than any other, this anthology makes it possible to pursue that study historically, in thick, nuanced, comparative, and expansive ways. - Robert McRuer, PhD, Professor, Department of English, The George Washington University; author, Crip Theory: Cultural Signs of Queerness and Disability

"Kathleen Brian and James W. Trent Jr.'s new edited volume Phallacies: Historical Intersections of Disability and Masculinity is an ambitious, interdisciplinary exploration of the many interconnections between manhood and disability. Together, the editors and contributors have compiled a book that approaches masculinity and disability with unprecedented nuance. With a great diversity of time periods, geographic locations, and issues presented, the reader is given a sense that the volume seeks not so much to answer overarching questions, but rather that the authors are playing with the complex, puzzling, and sometimes unknowable edges of our categories of "man" and "disabled"... The book's loose organization and diversity gives it a sense of energy and creativity that for the most part suggests an exciting, growing field of inquiry." --Disability Studies Quarterly

"The main feature and achievement of the book that is of interest to disability studies scholars will probably be its multifaceted examination of shifting understandings and representations of masculinity and disability, and how these have affected the lives of disabled men and boys historically, often in challenging ways...[A] strength of the book is the impressive range of historical sources and methods its authors use. In addition to cartoons and begging cards, other visual documents, such as advertisements and artworks, are examined. Films, memoirs, novels, institutional records and newspaper reports also feature prominently, and there are many other sources listed in the book's notes" --Disability and Society

Table of Contents

    List of Illustrations
    Contributor Biographies

    David Serlin

    Part I: Is He Normal?
    Chapter 1. "Disability's Other: The Production of 'Normal Men' in Midcentury America"
    Anna Creadick
    Chapter 2. "Henry Darger and the Unruly Paper Dollhouse Scrapbook"
    Mary S. Trent
    Chapter 3. "Black and Crazy: The Antinomian Black Male in North American Consciousness"
    Lawrence E. Holcomb
    Chapter 4. "Masculinity or Bust: Gender and Impairment in Russ Meyer's Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!"
    Murray K. Simpson

    Part II: War, Manhood, and Disability
    Chapter 5. "Marketing Disabled Manhood: Veterans and Advertising since the Civil War"
    John Kinder
    Chapter 6. "'Half a Man': The Symbolism and Science of Paraplegic Impotence in World War II America"
    Beth Linker and Whitney E. Laemmli
    Chapter 7. "'A Blind Man's Home-Coming': Masculinity, Disability and Male Care-giving in First World War Britain"
    Jessica Meyer

    Part III: Disabled Man as "Less than a Man"
    Chapter 8. "Hysteria in the Male: Images of Masculinity in Late Nineteenth-Century France"
    Daniela S. Barberis
    Chapter 9. "Down and Out: American Male Beggars' Presentations, 1860s-1930s"
    Robert Bogdan
    Chapter 10. "Death on a Silver Platter: Masculinity, Disabilities, and the Noxon Murder Trials of 1944"
    Ivy George and James W. Trent Jr.

    Part IV: Men and Boys as "Supercrips"
    Chapter 11. "Mythological Pedagogies; or, Suicide Clubs as Eugenic Alibi"
    Kathleen M. Brian
    Chapter 12. "Making Useful Men: The Roman Rosell Institute and Asylum for the Blind, 1933-1950"
    Rebecca Ellis
    Chapter 13. "Weeping and Bad Hair: The Bodily Suffering of Early Christian Hell as a Threat to Masculinity"
    Megan Henning
    Chapter 14. "Porgy and Dubose"
    Susan Schweik
    Chapter 15. "Ernest Hemingway: Ernest Hemingway, the Man, the Girl, and the Genius"
    Carolyn Slaughter

    Contributor Biographies


Related Titles