Life Prints: A Memoir of Healing and Discovery

Life Prints: A Memoir of Healing and Discovery

by Mary Grimley Mason, Mary Grimley Mason
     
 

When she is six, Mary Grimley is the nation's first "poster child," dining with President Roosevelt at the Warm Springs rehabilitation center and posing in her wheelchair for publicity shots. But a close look at photos reveals something other than the "cheerful invalid" that the abled expect: mouth closed in a frown, eyes defiant and proud, this bold child is

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Overview

When she is six, Mary Grimley is the nation's first "poster child," dining with President Roosevelt at the Warm Springs rehabilitation center and posing in her wheelchair for publicity shots. But a close look at photos reveals something other than the "cheerful invalid" that the abled expect: mouth closed in a frown, eyes defiant and proud, this bold child is less than impressed with the label of "poor crippled girl."

As a brilliant young scholar in the 1950s and 1960s, Mary Grimley Mason refuses to focus on her disability and instead makes herself privy to a revolution of ideas. At Radcliffe College and in graduate school at the University of Chicago and Harvard, she surrounds herself with writers and thinkers, plunging into the bohemian lifestyle of Cambridge cooperatives and radical intellectualism. But inchoate concepts of "normalcy" soon twist Mason's path, and she finds herself married to another scholar, supporting his studies, keeping house, and raising children. Even during several years in Paris, she is positioned to overhear rather than participate in conversations with scholars and writers such as Louis Massignon. Years of conflict result in a difficult realization: she has laid aside her own dream to become the dream of another-"the perfect wife of a writer," as Frank O'Connor predicted.

Mason has spent her life struggling against prejudice toward disabled people; now she has discovered an even more formidable enemy: the sexism of mentors, friends, family, and even herself. But she will find the courage to contend with both of the forces that seek to define and limit her. After undergoing years of physical therapy and social isolation, after forcing the strictures of disability behind her, she at last accepts her identity as a disabled person, abandoning "that double in my life-that consciousness or voice that tried to pass as able-bodied." At the same time, she moves beyond the limitations society has prescribed for women, embracing feminism-and discovering her life's work. Specializing academically in women's autobiography, Mary Grimley Mason is unusually well-suited to narrate and interpret her own life, taking control of its representation with forthright determination. In this frank life

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
A professor of literature and women's studies and the author of numerous books, short stories, articles, and essays, Mason chronicles in seamless prose her own journeys as a person with a disability who constantly tried to pass as "able-bodied," as a woman scholar and writer who struggled to advance her career in male-dominated academia, and as a mother and writer's wife who searched for intellectual and creative outlets appropriate to her interests and education. In her quest for role models for herself and other women writers, she followed the work of her feminist contemporaries and of African American women writers. She also found" women writers we had lost-the voices we had buried or had not yet discovered." In 1982, the author put her scholarly research into action, heading a grant-funded program, "Women in Transition," for divorced and widowed women entering the job market. Subsequently, she became involved in the disability rights movement (Mason had contracted polio as a child). She eloquently describes how she gradually integrated the professional and personal roles that had so often been separate in her life. She ends her memoirs triumphantly, claiming proudly her identity as a feminist writer with a disability. Highly recommended for all women's studies and disability studies collections.-Ximena Chrisagis, Wright State Univ. Lib., Dayton
Life Prints: A Memoir Of Healing And Discovery is the story of Mary Grimley, who at the age of 6 years became America's first "poster child", dining with President Roosevelt at the Warm Springs rehabilitation center and posing in her wheelchair for publicity shots. Mary went on to became a remarkable scholar in the 1950s and 60s, refusing to focus on her disability and making herself a part of the revolution of ideas. Mason has spent her life struggling against the common cultural prejudice against disabled people, including the sexism of mentors, friends, family, and even herself. It was only after many years of physical therapy and social isolation, that she could emerge from the social and psychological handicaps imposed upon her because of her physical disability to embrace feminism, discover her life's work, and come to terms with herself. Life Prints is a candid, revealing, informative, and exceptionally well written autobiography that is highly recommended for women's studies and disability issues reading lists.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781558612372
Publisher:
Feminist Press at CUNY, The
Publication date:
06/01/2000
Series:
The Cross-Cultural Memoir Series Series
Edition description:
1ST
Pages:
240
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.90(d)

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