Disability Experiences: Memoirs, Autobiographies, and Other Personal Narratives, 1st Edition

  • G. Thomas Couser Hofstra University (Hempstead NY)
  • Susannah B. Mintz Skidmore College (Albany NY)
  • Published By:
  • ISBN-10: 1410388077
  • ISBN-13: 9781410388070
  • DDC: 362.4092
  • Grade Level Range: 12th Grade - College Senior
  • 914 Pages | eBook
  • Original Copyright 2019 | Published/Released June 2019
  • This publication's content originally published in print form: 2019

  • Price:  Sign in for price



Disability Experience: Memoirs, Autobiographies, and Other Personal Narratives presents essays on 200 narrative works written by persons with disabilities. The disabilities covered are mostly physical, but psychological/psychiatric conditions, developmental/intellectual impairments, and addiction are also included. While most are written by disabled persons themselves, a small number of biographies and family memoirs (such as those written by parents or spouses) were included when the advisory board felt they were important contributions to communicating the disability experience.

The works date from as early as 1470 to as recent as 2018. While most of the authors are from the US, one-third of the works are by authors from elsewhere around the globe. Care was also given to represent a wide range of other cultures, heritage, and lifestyles, in areas such as religion, sexual orientation, gender identification, color, and other factors that, along with disability, constitute intersectional experiences. At least half the works included represent such at least one diversity factor.

All entries are signed, and each begins with a brief summary of the work and list of key information. The body of each essay provides an overview of the work and the subject’s life, and discussion of historical and cultural context, themes, and critical reception. All essays have one or two sidebars and a bibliography; half also have a photo.

The work includes a pedagogical piece from the editor that discusses ways the contents can be used in the classroom. This is followed by a three-part thematic outline organizing the entries by disabilities and conditions that are represented in the works; by formats other than autobiography or memoir, such as graphic memoir or poetry; and by other themes, both disability-related and other.

The volume also includes a subject index and a list of other recommended memoirs and anthologies not covered within.

Features and Benefits

  • Covers memoirs, autobiographies, family memoirs (e.g., written by spouse or sibling), and other forms of personal narratives, such as art, poetry, diary/journal entries, etc. Includes a few select biographies.
  • Disabilities covered include physical, mental/emotional, and intellectual/cognitive impairments.
  • Each essay provides an overview of the memoir/work, and discussion of historical and cultural context, themes, and critical response to the work.
  • Signed entries with clear credentials of writers and advisers.
  • Essays include one or two sidebars, often an extract from the work.
  • More than half of the essays contain a photo.
  • Bibliographies in each entry list sources used and additional recommended reading; an appendix includes other recommended memoirs not covered in the reference work.
  • Comprehensive subject index.

What's New

  • Key concepts noted for each essay, including the disability or condition and other relevant themes.
  • Concise summary provided for each memoir/work.
  • Key facts listed for each memoir, including subject (author)’s name, birth/death dates, occupation, nationality, as well as the work’s genre, time period covered, and brief historical context.
  • The table of contents includes work titles, pub date, and author, as well as a brief summary of each work. An alternative table of contents lists the works alphabetically by author.
  • Thematic outline and a pedagogical essay assist in classroom or curriculum integration.
  • Bibliographies appear in each entry, beginning with a citation to the work---extended information is provided for most works, intended to enable the user to access hard-to-find works or alternative versions.

Alternate Formats

  • Casebound Edition

    ISBN-10: 1410388042 | ISBN-13: 9781410388049

Table of Contents

Able-Bodied: Scenes from a Curious Life (2010) by Leslie Swartz
“Account from Paris of a Terrible Operation" (1812) by Frances Burney
After the Stroke: A Journal (1988) by May Sarton
And There Was Light: The Extraordinary Memoir of a Blind Hero of the French Resistance in World War II (1953) by Jacques Lusseyran
Aphasia, My World Alone (1973) by Helen Harlan Wulf
Assembly Required: Notes from a Deaf Gay Life (2009) by Raymond Luczak
Autobiography of a Face (1994) by Lucy Grealy
The Autobiography of Charles Darwin, 1809–1882 (1887) by Charles Darwin
The Autobiography of James L. Smith: Including, Also, Reminiscences of Slave Life, Recollections of the War, Education of Freedmen, Causes of the Exodus, Etc. (1881) by James L. Smith
The Ballad of Blind Tom (2009) by Deirdre O'Connell
The Bells of Nagasaki (1949) by Takashi Nagai
Beyond the Pale: Folklore, Family, and the Mystery of our Hidden Genes (2015) by Emily Urquhart
Bitter Medicine: A Graphic Memoir of Mental Illness (2010) by Clem Martini & Olivier Martini
Blindsided: Lifting a Life above Illness: A Reluctant Memoir (2004) by Richard M. Cohen
Bob Flanagan: Supermasochist (1993) by Bob Flanagan; interviews by Andrea Juno & V. Vale
The Body Broken: A Memoir (2009) by Lynne Greenberg
Body, Remember: A Memoir (1997) by Kenny Fries
The Body Silent: The Different World of the Disabled (1987) by Robert F. Murphy
A Body Undone: Living On after Great Pain (2016) by Christina Crosby
Born on a Blue Day: A Memoir of Asperger’s and an Extraordinary Mind (2006) by Daniel Tammet
Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness (2012) by Susannah Cahalan
A Brain Wider than the Sky: A Migraine Diary (2009) by Andrew Levy
Breath: A Lifetime in the Rhythm of an Iron Lung (2003) by Martha Mason
The Broken Cord: A Family’s Ongoing Struggle with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (1989) by Michael Dorris
Bug: Deaf Identity and Internal Revolution (2007) by Christopher Jon Heuer
The Cancer Journals (1980) by Audre Lorde
The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey through Madness (2007) by Elyn R. Saks
A Child of Sanitariums: A Memoir of Tuberculosis Survival and Lifelong Disability (2010) by Gloria Paris
City of Corpses (1948) by Yoko Ota
Codeine Diary: A Memoir (1998) by Tom Andrews
Confessions of an English Opium-Eater: Being an Extract from the Life of a Scholar (1821) by Thomas De Quincey
Count Us In: Growing Up with Down Syndrome (1994) by Jason Kingsley & Mitchell Levitz
The Cry of the Gull (1994) by Emmanuelle Laborit
Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness (1990) by William Styron
The Days: His Autobiography in Three Parts (1926-1955) by Taha Hussein
Deaf in Delhi: A Memoir (2006) by Madan Vasishta
The Deaf Mute Howls (1930) by Albert Ballin
Deafness: A Personal Account (1969) by David Wright
Deep in the Brain: Living with Parkinson's Disease (2006) by Helmut Dubiel
Deformity: An Essay (1754) by William Hay
Diary Drawings: Mental Illness and Me (2010) by Bobby Baker
The Diary of Alice James (Late 1800s) by Alice James
The Diary of Frida Kahlo: An Intimate Self-Portrait (1995) by Frida Kahlo
Divided Minds: Twin Sisters and Their Journey through Schizophrenia (2005) by Pamela Spiro Wagner & Carolyn S. Spiro
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: A Memoir of Life in Death (1997) by Jean-Dominique Bauby
Don’t Call Me Inspirational: A Disabled Feminist Talks Back (2013) by Harilyn Rousso
Double Take: A Memoir (2009) by Kevin Michael Connolly
Dry: A Memoir (2003) by Augusten Burroughs
Elegy for Iris (1999) by John Bayley
Emergence: Labeled Autistic (1986) by Temple Grandin
Everything Happens for a Reason, and Other Lies I’ve Loved (2018) by Kate Bowler
Exile and Pride: Disability, Queerness, and Liberation (1999) by Eli Clare
Exploding into Life (1986) by Dorothea Lynch & Eugene Richards
Fading Scars: My Queer Disability History (2015) by Corbett Joan OToole
Falling into Life: Essays (1991) by Leonard Kriegel
Fat Girl: A True Story (2005) by Judith Moore
The Flock: The Autobiography of a Multiple Personality (1991) by Joan Frances Casey with Lynn Wilson
Fortunate Son: The Autobiography of Lewis B. Puller, Jr. (1991) by Lewis B. Puller, Jr.
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic (2006) by Alison Bechdel
Gaby Brimmer: An Autobiography in Three Voices (1979) by Gabriela Brimmer, with Elena Poniatowska
“The GENIUS, Number II” (1761) by George Colman the Elder
Geography of the Heart: A Memoir (1996) by Fenton Johnson
The Girl from Aleppo: Nujeen’s Escape from War to Freedom (2016) by Nujeen Mustafa, with Christine Lamb
Girl in Need of a Tourniquet: A Memoir of a Borderline Personality (2010) by Merri Lisa Johnson
Girl, Interrupted (1993) by Susanna Kaysen
"Grove of the Infirm” and “Wonder at the Works of God" (1470s) by Teresa de Cartagena
Happy Old Year: An Autobiography (1982) by Marcelo Rubens Paiva
A Healing Family (1995) by Kenzaburō Ōe
Heart Berries: A Memoir (2018) by Terese Marie Mailhot
Heaven’s Coast: A Memoir (1997) by Mark Doty
The History of the Carolina Twins: Told in “Their Own Peculiar Way” by “One of Them” (1866–1869?) by Millie McKoy & Christine McKoy
Home Bound: Growing Up with a Disability in America (2004) by Cass Irvin
How I Became a Human Being: A Disabled Man’s Quest for Independence (2003) by Mark O'Brien, with Gillian Kendall
I Knock at the Door: Swift Glances Back at Things that Made Me (1939) by Sean O'Casey
I Raise My Eyes to Say Yes (1989) by Ruth Sienkiewicz-Mercer & Sean B. Kaplan
In Our Hearts We Were Giants: The Remarkable Story of the Lilliput Troupe—A Dwarf Family's Survival of the Holocaust (2003) by Yehuda Koren & Eliat Negev
In Praise of Weakness (1999) by Alexandre Jollien
In the Body of the World: A Memoir of Cancer and Connection (2013) by Eve Ensler
In the Face of Death (1984) by Peter Noll
In the Jaws of the Black Dogs: A Memoir of Depression (1995) by John Bentley Mays
In the Land of Pain (1897) by Alphonse Daudet
In the Shadow of Memory (2003) by Floyd Skloot
An Iranian Odyssey (1991) by Gohar Kordi
It’s Not Yet Dark (2014) by Simon Fitzmaurice
I’ve Heard the Vultures Singing: Field Notes on Poetry, Illness, and Nature (2007) by Lucia Perillo
The Language of Me (2004) by Musa E. Zulu
Learning Sickness: A Year with Crohn’s Disease (2004) by James M. Lang
Liar: A Memoir (2016) by Rob Roberge
Life as We Know It: A Father, a Family, and an Exceptional Child (1996) and Life as Jamie Knows It: An Exceptional child Grows Up (2016) by Michael Bérubé
Life Prints: A Memoir of Healing and Discovery (2000) by Mary Grimley Mason
Lighter than My Shadow (2013) by Katie Green
Listening: Ways of Hearing in a Silent World (1994) by Hannah Merker
Lit: A Memoir (2009) by Mary Karr
The Little Locksmith: A Memoir (1942) by Katharine Butler Hathaway
Little People: Learning to See the World through My Daughter’s Eyes (2003) by Dan Kennedy
A Little Pregnant: Our Memoir of Fertility, Infertility, and a Marriage (1999) by Linda Carbone & Ed Decker
Long Time, No See (2003) by Beth Finke
Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger’s (2007) by John Elder Robison
The Loony-Bin Trip (1990) by Kate Millett
Losing My Mind: An Intimate Look at Life with Alzheimer’s (2002) by Thomas DeBaggio
Love Like Salt: A Memoir (2016) by Helen Stevenson
Lucky Man: A Memoir (2002) by Michael J. Fox
Lying: A Metaphorical Memoir (2000) by Lauren Slater

Madonna Swan: A Lakota Woman’s Story as Told through Mark St. Pierre (1991) by Mark St. Pierre
The Man of Jasmine (1971) by Unica Zürn
Man to Man: Surviving Prostate Cancer (1996) by Michael Korda
Mapping Fate: A Memoir of Family, Risk, and Genetic Research (1995) by Alice Wexler
Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, & Me (2012) by Ellen Forney
Matthew’s Enigma: A Father's Portrait of His Autistic Son (2003) by Matei Călinescu
The Me in the Mirror (1994) by Connie Panzarino
Mean Little deaf Queer: A Memoir (2009) by Terry Galloway
Meaning of a Disability: The Lived Experience of Paralysis (1999) by Albert B. Robillard
Meditations from a Movable Chair: Essays (1998) by Andre Dubus
Memoir of a Debulked Woman: Enduring Ovarian Cancer (2012) by Susan Gubar
Memoir of the Early Life of William Cowper, Esq. (1816) by William Cowper
Memoirs of Mrs. Mary Robinson (1801) by Mary Robinson
Memoirs of My Nervous Illness (1903) by Daniel Paul Schreber
Memoirs of the Celebrated Dwarf, Joseph Boruwlaski, a Polish Gentleman (1788) by Joseph Boruwlaski
Memory’s Last Breath: Field Notes on My Dementia (2017) by Gerda Saunders
The Mind Tree: A Miraculous Child Breaks the Silence of Autism (2000) by Tito Rajarshi Mukhopadhyay
Miracle Boy Grows Up: How the Disability Rights Revolution Saved My Sanity (2012) by Ben Mattlin
Missing Pieces: A Chronicle of Living with a Disability (1982) by Irving Kenneth Zola
Moonrise: One Family, Genetic Identity, and Muscular Dystrophy (2003) by Penny Wolfson
Mortal Embrace: Living with AIDS (1987) by Emmanuel Dreuilhe
Moving Violations: War Zones, Wheelchairs, and Declarations of Independence (1995) by John Hockenberry
My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind (2013) by Scott Stossel
My Left Foot (1954) by Christy Brown
My Life in My Hands (2005) by Alison Lapper, with Guy Feldman
My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey (2006) by Jill Bolte Taylor
A Nearly Normal Life: A Memoir (1999) by Charles L. Mee
No One’s Perfect (1998) by Hirotada Ototake
Nobody, Nowhere: The Extraordinary Autobiography of an Austistic (1992) by Donna Williams
The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression (2001) by Andrew Solomon
Not All Black Girls Know How to Eat: A Story of Bulimia (2009) by Stephanie Covington Armstrong
Notes on the Flesh (2017) by Shahd Alshammari
"On Personal Defects: Proposals for an Ugly Club" (1711) by Richard Steele
One More Theory about Happiness: A Memoir (2010) by Paul Guest
Out of Joint: A Private and Public Story of Arthritis (2005) by Mary Felstiner
The Outsider: A Journey into My Father’s Struggle with Madness (2000) by Nathaniel Lachenmeyer
Over My Head: A Doctor's Own Story of Head Injury from the Inside Looking Out (1998) by Claudia L. Osborn
"The Pain Scale" (2005) by Eula Biss
Pain Woman Takes Your Keys: And Other Essays from a Nervous System (2017) by Sonya Huber
Passing for Normal: A Memoir of Compulsion (1999) by Amy S. Wilensky
Past Due: A Story of Disability, Pregnancy and Birth (1990) by Anne Finger
Planet of the Blind: A Memoir (1998) by Stephen Kuusisto
Poster Child: A Memoir (2007) by Emily Rapp
Prozac Nation: Young and Depressed in America (1994) by Elizabeth Wurtzel
Putting Myself in the Picture: A Political, Personal and Photographic Autobiography (1986) by Jo Spence
The Question of David: A Disabled Mother’s Journey through Adoption, Family, and Life (1999) by
Denise Sherer Jacobson
Reasonable People: A Memoir of Autism and Adoption (2007) by Ralph James Savarese
Reflections: The Life and Writings of a Young Blind Woman in Post-Revolutionary France (1825) by Thérèse-Adèle Husson
Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place (1991) by Terry Tempest Williams
Reversals: A Personal Account of Victory over Dyslexia (1979) by Eileen Simpson
The Ride Together: A Brother and Sister’s Memoir of Autism in the Family (2003) by Judy Karasik & Paul Karasik
The Secret Life of a Black Aspie: A Memoir (2017) by Anand Prahlad
Self-Consciousness (1989) by John Updike
Seven Wheelchairs: A Life beyond Polio (2008) by Gary Presley
Shadow and Sunshine (1906) by Eliza Suggs
The Shaking Woman: Or, A History of My Nerves (2010) by Siri Hustvedt
The Short Bus: A Journey beyond Normal (2007) by Jonathan Mooney
Sick: A Memoir (2018) by Porochista Khakpour
Sight Unseen (1999) by Georgina Kleege
Smalls Acts of Disappearance: Essays on Hunger (2015) by Fiona Wright
A Smell of Burning: The Story of Epilepsy (2016) by Colin Grant
The Social Meaning of Mental Retardation: Two Life Stories (1982) by Robert Bogdan & Steven J. Taylor
Songs of the Gorilla Nation: My Journey through Autism (2004) by Dawn Prince-Hughes
Sounds Like Home: Growing Up Black and Deaf in the South (1999) by Mary Herring Wright
The Spiral Cage: Diary of an Astral Gypsy (1988) by Al Davison
Squint: My Journey with Leprosy (2009) by José P. Ramirez, Jr.
Still Me (1998) by Christopher Reeve
The Story of My Father: A Memoir (2003) by Sue Miller
The Story of My Life (1903) by Helen Keller
Stuttering: A Life Bound Up in Words (1997) by Marty Jezer
Sweet Invisible Body: Reflections on Life with Diabetes (1999) by Lisa Roney
Taking Heart (1990) by A. C. Greene
Teach Us to Sit Still: A Skeptic's Search for Health and Healing (2010) by Tim Parks
Tell Me the Number before Infinity: The Story of a Girl with a Quirky Mind, an Eccentric Family, and Oh Yes, a Disability (2016) by Becky Taylor & Dena Taylor
Too Late to Die Young: Nearly True Tales from a Life (2005) by Harriet McBryde Johnson
Touching the Rock: An Experience of Blindness (1990) by John M. Hull
Truly Blessed (1998) by Teddy Pendergrass & Patricia Romanowski
Twitch and Shout: A Touretter's Tale (1998) by Lowell Handler
The Two-in-One: Walking with Smokie, Walking with Blindness (1999) by Rod Michalko
Ugly: My Memoir (2013) by Robert Hoge
Under the Eye of the Clock: The Life Story of Christopher Nolan (1987) by Christopher Nolan
The Unheard: A Memoir of Deafness and Africa (2007) by Josh Swiller
An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness (1995) by Kay Redfield Jamison
Unspeakable: The Story of Junius Wilson (2007) by Susan Burch & Hannah Joyner
Until Further Notice, I Am Alive (2012) by Tom Lubbock
Victory in My Hands (1949) by Harold Russell, with Victor Rosen
Waist-High in the World: A Life among the Nondisabled (1996) by Nancy Mairs
Waking: A Memoir of Trauma and Transcendence (2006) by Matthew Sanford
Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia (1998) by Marya Hornbacher
What Her Body Thought: A Journey into the Shadows (1999) by Susan Griffin
What's That Pig Outdoors? A Memoir of Deafness (1990) by Henry Kisor
Wheelchair Warrior: Gangs, Disability, and Basketball (2008) by Melvin Juette & Ronald J. Berger
White on Black (2002) by Ruben Gallego
A Whole New Life: An Illness and a Healing (1994) by Reynolds Price
Wide Awake: A Memoir of Insomnia (2010) by Patricia Morrisroe
Willow Weep for Me: A Black Woman’s Journey through Depression, A Memoir (1998) by Meri Nana-Ama Danquah
The Wounded Breast: Intimate Journeys through Cancer (2000) by Evelyne Accad

Meet the Author

Author Bio

G. Thomas Couser

Emeritus Professor, English, and founding director of the Disability Studies Program

Susannah B. Mintz

Professor and Chair, English