Ellen Samuels

Position title: Professor of Gender & Women's Studies, and English

Email: ejsamuels@wisc.edu

3412 Sterling Hall

Ellen Samuels

Ellen Samuels is an associate professor and a founding member of the UW Disability Studies Initiative. She is the author of Fantasies of Identification: Disability, Gender, Race (NYU, 2014) and her critical work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including Signs, Disability Studies Quarterly, Feminist Disability Studies, GLQ, MELUS, The Disability Studies Reader, and Amerasia. Her awards include the Ed Roberts Postdoctoral Fellowship in Disability Studies, the Catherine Stimpson Prize for Outstanding Feminist Scholarship, and two Lambda Literary awards. She co-edits the NYU Press series Crip: New Directions in Disability Studies. She is working on three new books, Double Meanings: Conjoined Twins at the Millennium; Sick Time: Disability, Chronicity, Futurity; and Body of Mine: A Memoir in Genetic Sequence. Her research interests include disability studies; feminist/queer theory; 19th-21st century American literature; African American studies; body theory; visual culture; creative writing; autobiography and memoir.

Professor Samuels is on medical leave starting in fall 2019.

Gender-related Courses:

GWS 101: Gender, Women, and Cultural Representation
GWS 310: The Cultural Politics of Illness
GWS 343: Queer Bodies
GWS 370: Topics in Gender and Disability
GWS 445: The Body in Theory
GWS 640: GWS Capstone Seminar
GWS/ENG 737: “Feminist Disability Studies”

Selected Publications:

Fantasies of Identification: Disability, Gender, Race. New York University Press, 2014.

Six Ways of Looking at Crip Time.” Disability Studies Quarterly 37.3 (2017). N.p. Web.

“How Do Early Americans with Disabilities Act?” Early American Literature 52.1 (2017): 169-176.

“Prosthetic Heroes: Curing Disabled Veterans in Iron Man 3 and Beyond.” Disability Media Studies: Media, Popular Culture, and the Meanings of Disability. New York University Press, 2017.

“Passing, Coming Out, and Other Magical Acts.” Negotiating Disability Awareness: Disclosure and Higher Education. University of Michigan Press, 2017.

“‘Vulnerability and Power’: Disability, Pedagogy, and Identity: An Conversation with Ellen Samuels.” Interview by Sarah Chinn. Transformations: The Journal of Inclusive Scholarship and Pedagogy 25.2 (2015): 147-157.

“Don’t Film Us, We’ll Film You: Agency and Enfreakment in the Joined for Life Documentaries.
Different Bodies: Disability in Film and Television. McFarland Press, 2013.

“‘Speaking as a Deaf Person Would’: Translating Unperformability in Betty Quan’s Mother
Tongue.” Amerasia Journal 39.1 (2013): 19-32.

“Examining Millie and Christine McKoy: Where Enslavement and Enfreakment Meet.”
Signs: A Journal of Women in Culture and Society 37.1(Autumn 2011): 53-81.

  • Recipient of the Catharine Stimpson Prize for Outstanding Feminist Scholarship.

“My Body, My Closet: Invisible Disability and the Limits of Coming-Out Discourse.”
GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 9.1-2 (Spring 2003): 233-255.

  • Reprinted in The Disability Studies Reader, 4th ed. (Routledge, 2013).
  • Translated into Czechoslovakian in Antologie textů z oboru disability studies. Ed. Katerina Kolarova. Prague: Slon, 2012.
  • Translated into Hebrew by the Van Leer Jersualem Institute (forthcoming).

“Critical Divides: Judith Butler’s Body Theory and the Question of Disability.” National
Women’s Studies Association Journal 14.3 (Fall 2002): 58-76.

  • Reprinted in Feminist Disability Studies (Indiana University Press, 2011).
  • Cover of Fantasies of Identification by Ellen Samuels

    In the mid-nineteenth-century United States, as it became increasingly difficult to distinguish between bodies understood as black, white, or Indian; able-bodied or disabled; and male or female, intense efforts emerged to define these identities as biologically distinct and scientifically verifiable in a literally marked body. Combining literary analysis, legal history, and visual culture, Ellen Samuels traces the evolution of the “fantasy of identification”—the powerful belief that embodied social identities are fixed, verifiable, and visible through modern science. From birthmarks and fingerprints to blood quantum and DNA, she examines how this fantasy has circulated between cultural representations, law, science, and policy to become one of the most powerfully institutionalized ideologies of modern society.

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