The Metanarrative of Learning Disability: Vulnerability, Unworthiness, and Requiring Control

Owen Barden, Steven Walden

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The book comprises fifteen chapters developed across three parts and, informed by disability studies, is authored by those with research interests in the condition on which they focus as well as direct or intimate experiential knowledge. When out and about, many disabled people know only too well what it is to be erroneously told the error of our/their ways by non-disabled passers-by, assumed authority often cloaked in helpfulness. Showing that assumed authority is underpinned by a displacement of personal narratives in favour of overarching metanarratives of disability that find currency in a diverse multiplicity of cultural representations – ranging from literature to film, television, advertising, social media, comics, art, and music – this work discusses how this relates to a range of disabilities and chronic conditions including blindness, autism, Down Syndrome, diabetes, cancer and HIV and AIDS.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMetanarratives of Disability
Subtitle of host publicationCulture, Assumed Authority, and the Normative Social Order
EditorsDavid Bolt
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)978-0367523206
ISBN (Print)978-0367523190
Publication statusPublished - 27 May 2021


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