Student Review by Felicity McKee – History PHD candidate
The Free Thinking episode on Depicting Disability, with Swansea’s own Professor David Turner is an excellent start to UK Disability History Month showcasing a wide wealth of depictions of disabled figures across historical periods both in literature and society. Issues such as welfare, austerity and disability access have long historical roots and the framing of these issues are explored in this episode, with discussion on how disabled people being seen as deserving or undeserving of welfare and support is not solely a modern issue, nor is the suspicion that many disabled people unfairly face about the validity of their disability.
The speakers are not shy about reflecting on how the past has influenced and informed certain modern perceptions of disability and the idea of sentimental disabled figures in the popular narrative both past and present are explored and challenged. While a 50-minute podcast couldn’t possibly address the entirety of disability history, it does serve as a good introduction to anyone interested in the topic as the three speakers dismantle many of the popular myths and misunderstandings about disabled lives historically. Dr Clare Walker Gore, Jessica Secmezsoy-Urquhart and Professor David Turner are each given space to speak about their specific research areas in a way that overlap and flows well together, allowing the listener to envision the development and change of perceptions of disability from now going back to the fifteenth and sixteenth century.