The Radical Lives of Helen Keller

The Radical Lives of Helen Keller

by Kim E. Nielsen
     
 

ISBN-10: 0814758134

ISBN-13: 9780814758137

Pub. Date: 01/01/2004

Publisher: New York University Press

Several decades after her death in 1968, Helen Keller remains one of the most widely recognized women of the twentieth century. But the fascinating story of her vivid political life-particularly her interest in radicalism and anti-capitalist activism-has been largely overwhelmed by the sentimentalized story of her as a young deaf-blind girl.

Keller had many lives

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Overview

Several decades after her death in 1968, Helen Keller remains one of the most widely recognized women of the twentieth century. But the fascinating story of her vivid political life-particularly her interest in radicalism and anti-capitalist activism-has been largely overwhelmed by the sentimentalized story of her as a young deaf-blind girl.

Keller had many lives indeed. Best known for her advocacy on behalf of the blind, she was also a member of the socialist party, an advocate of women's suffrage, a defender of the radical International Workers of the World, and a supporter of birth control-and she served as one of the nation's most effective but unofficial international ambassadors. In spite of all her political work, though, Keller rarely explored the political dimensions of disability, adopting beliefs that were often seen as conservative, patronizing, and occasionally repugnant. Under the wing of Alexander Graham Bell, a controversial figure in the deaf community who promoted lip-reading over sign language, Keller became a proponent of oralism, thereby alienating herself from others in the deaf community who believed that a rich deaf culture was possible through sign language. But only by distancing herself from the deaf community was she able to maintain a public image as a one-of-a-kind miracle.

Using analytic tools and new sources, Kim E. Nielsen's political biography of Helen Keller has many lives, teasing out the motivations for and implications of her political and personal revolutions to reveal a more complex and intriguing woman than the Helen Keller we thought we knew.

Kim E. Nielsen is associate professor of history and women's studies in the department of social change and development at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. She lives in Green Bay, WI.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780814758137
Publisher:
New York University Press
Publication date:
01/01/2004
Series:
History of Disability Series
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
193
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.56(d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Timeline
Introduction
1 I Do Not Like This World As It Is: 1900–1924
2 The Call of the Sightless: 1924–1937
3 Manna in My Desert Places: 1937–1948
4 I Will Not Allow Polly to Climb a Pyramid: 1948–1968
5 One of the Least Free People on Earth: The Making and Remaking of Helen Keller
Notes
Bibliography
Index
About the Author

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