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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. Yet, as Samuels demonstrates, in every case, the fantasy distorts its claimed scientific basis, substituting subjective language for claimed objective fact. From its early emergence in discourses about disability fakery and fugitive slaves in the nineteenth century to its most recent manifestation in the question of sex testing at the 2012 Olympic Games, Fantasies of Identification explores the roots of modern understandings of bodily identity.

Out of the Ordinary: Essays on Growing Up with Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Parents

by Noelle Howey Ellen Samuels

An insightful and touching collection of real life experiences of children in the 1970 and 1980's before the level of acceptance for gay, lesbian and transgendered family's had developed. They each touch on their struggles and the secrecy they often had to keep along with the life lessons of human understanding and pride that often came from those challenges. The book also includes references and resources for additional reading and support.

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Select your format based upon: 1) how you want to read your book, and 2) compatibility with your reading tool. To learn more about using Bookshare with your device, visit the "Using Bookshare" page in the Help Center.

Here is an overview of the specialized formats that Bookshare offers its members with links that go to the Help Center for more information.

  • Bookshare Web Reader - a customized reading tool for Bookshare members offering all the features of DAISY with a single click of the "Read Now" link.
  • DAISY (Digital Accessible Information System) - a digital book file format. DAISY books from Bookshare are DAISY 3.0 text files that work with just about every type of access technology that reads text. Books that contain images will have the download option of ‘DAISY Text with Images’.
  • BRF (Braille Refreshable Format) - digital Braille for use with refreshable Braille devices and Braille embossers.
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