Stay tuned for annotations and additional entries.

Adelson, Betty. The Lives of Dwarfs: Their Journey from Public Curiosity toward Social Liberation. Rutgers U P, 2005.

Barasch, Moshe. Blindness: The History of a Mental Image in Western Thought. Routledge, 2001, doi: 10.4324/9780203827215.

  • From abstract: “Moshe Barasch draws upon not only the span of art history from antiquity to the eighteenth century but also the classical and biblical traditions that underpin so much of artistic representation: Blind Homer, the healing of the blind, blind musicians, blindness as punishment, blindness as a special mark. The book discusses blindness in antiquity, in the Early Christian world, in the Middle Ages, and in the Renaissance, with a final consideration of Diderot.”

Brookman, Helen. “Accessing the Medieval: Disability and Distance in Anna Gurney’s Search for St Edmund.” Postmedieval, vol. 10, no. 3, 2019, pp. 357-375. DOI:10.1057/s41280-019-00133-z.

Cilione, M., and V. Gazzaniga. “Conceptualizing Disabilities from Antiquity to the Middle Ages: A Historical-Medical Contribution.” International Journal of Paleopathology, vol. 40, 2023;2022;, pp. 41-47.

Cock, Emily and Patricia Skinner. (2019). (Dis)functional Faces: Signs of the Monstrous?. In: Godden, R., Mittman, A. (eds) Monstrosity, Disability, and the Posthuman in the Medieval and Early Modern World. Palgrave Macmillan.

  • Focusing on “the relationship between visible facial difference and sexual transgression,” the authors look at medieval instances when a “face is considered disabled” in order to “clarify the definition and expected functions of the face and its components in this period.” The also discuss how “[c]omparing examples from medieval and early modern Europe enables greater theoretical insight into the historical relationship between facial form and functionality, and their impairment.” (from abstract)

Comber, Abigail E. “A Medieval King ‘Disabled’ by an Early Modern Construct: A Contextual Examination of Richard III.” Disability in the Middle Ages: Reconsiderations and Reverberations. Routledge, 2010.

Croce, Luigi, Federica Di Cosimo, and Marco Lombardi. “A Short History of Disability in Italy.”The Routledge History of Disability, edited by Roy Hanes, Ivan Brown and Nancy E. Hansen, pp. 35-47. Routledge, 2018.

Crocker, Christopher, et al. “Multidisciplinary Approaches to Disability in Iceland (Late 9th–Early 20th Century).” Scandinavian Journal of Disability Research: SJDR, vol. 24, no. 1, 2022, pp. 151-164. DOI:

  • Abstract: “This article reports on a multidisciplinary project exploring constructions of disability in Iceland before the establishment of disability as a modern legal, bureaucratic, and administrative concept. The project’s vast temporal scope spans the settlement of Iceland in the late 9th century to the early 20th century, and it combines research in the fields of Archaeology, Medieval Literature, Folklore, History, and Museology. The article outlines the project’s rich and diverse source material and its data collection procedures before discussing the various methods employed across the disciplines involved. Focus simultaneously turns to the project’s myriad discipline-specific findings and to the presence of ambiguity and absence, invisibility, or silence as recurring cross-disciplinary themes.”

Ead, Hamed Abdelraheem. “Historical Perspectives on Disability in Egypt: Attitudes and Policies.” Athens Journal of Mediterranean Studies, Volume 10, Issue 2, April 2024. DOI: 10.30958/ajms/v10i2.

Frost, Gloria. “Medieval Aristotelians on Congenital Disabilities and Their Early Modern Critics.” Disability in Medieval Christian Philosophy and Theology, Routledge, 2020, pp. 51–79,

Fujimori, Keiya, and Shun Yasuda. “History and Definitions.” Cerebral Palsy. Springer Nature Singapore, 2022, pp. 3-11, doi:10.1007/978-981-19-2217-6_1.

Godden, Richard H., and Asa S. Mittman, editors. Monstrosity, Disability, and the Posthuman in the Medieval and Early Modern World. Springer International, 2019.

Goodey, C. F. “Blockheads, Roundheads, Pointy Heads: Intellectual Disability and the Brain before Modern Medicine.” Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, vol. 41, no. 2, 2005, pp. 165–83.

—. Development: The History of a Psychological Concept. Cambridge U P, 2021.

—. “Heterodoxy and Private Reason: Autism’s Historical Companions.” Popular Narrative Media, vol. 1, no. 1, 2008, pp. 5–12.

  • Abstract: “This article provides a political context to the history of autism, tracing the historical association between private thinking, unreason and intellectual disability. Calling into question the way in which the category of autism prevails in contemporary society, this article asserts that it is within the overall transhistorical metaphysic of ‘private thinking’ that the invention of autism as a socially meaningful category becomes possible. Furthermore, the article suggests that it is in the consensual grouping of psychological characteristics, rather than as a distinct biological category, that autism remains socially meaningful and useful in policing the parameters of political participation.”

—. “Intellectual Ability and Speed of Performance: Galen to Galton.” History of Science, vol. 42, no. 4, 2004, pp. 465–95. SAGE Journals,

—. “Why Study the History of Learning Disability?” Tizard Learning Disability Review, vol. 20, no. 1, Jan. 2015, pp. 3–10,

Hickey, Helen M. “The Lexical Prison: Impairment and Confinement in Medieval and Early Modern England.” Parergon, vol. 34, no. 2, 2017, pp. 133–57, doi:10.1353/pgn.2017.0038.

  • Abstract: “This article examines the lexical precariousness of definitions of impairment in legal and administrative discourses in select case studies in medieval and early modern administrative records. The terminologies used to label individuals in the courts were sometimes equivocal and this had consequences for those subject to the law. In criminal cases, the outcome for the mentally impaired tended to produce or ameliorate carceral sentencing or social exile. The records show that various forms of literal imprisonment (home detention with restraints, formal) were employed against some persons who were permanently or intermittently impaired, depending on the court’s opinion of their condition.”

Huet, Marie-Hélène. Monstrous Imagination. Harvard UP, 1993.

  • Huet examines the idea of birth defects being caused by maternal imagination from antiquity through the 1800s.

Hughes, Bill. A Historical Sociology of Disability: Human Validity and Invalidity from Antiquity to Early Modernity. Routledge, 2020,

Jaczminski, Daniel. “Liberating the Strange Fish: Visual Representations of Caliban and Their Successive Emancipation from Shakespeare’s Original Text”. Word & Image in Colonial and Postcolonial Literatures and Cultures, edited by Michael Meyer, pp. 1-19. Brill, 2009.

  • Jaczminski focuses on how the vague descriptor of “deformed” for Caliban in Shakespeare’s The Tempest has been interpreted in adaptations and argues that these representations of Caliban’s physicality risk reinforcing racist, colonialist ideologies promulgated by the original play.

Jarrett, Simon. A History of Disability in England: From the Medieval Period to the Present Day. Liverpool U P, 2023.

—. Those they Called Idiots: The Idea of the Disabled Mind from 1700 to the Present Day. Reaktion Books, 2020.

  • Jarrett examines the history of people whom we would now deem intellectually disabled from 1700 to the twenty-first century, tracking how such persons went from being integrated members of communities to being more stigmatized and institutionalized.

McDonagh, Patrick. Idiocy: A Cultural History. Liverpool U P, 2008.

Miles, M. (2002) “Disability in South Asia-Millennium to Millennium”, Journal of Religion, Disability & Health, 6:2-3, 109-115, DOI: 10.1300/J095v06n02_11.

Millett-Gallant, Ann, and Elizabeth Howie, editors. Disability and Art History from Antiquity to the Twenty-First Century. Taylor and Francis, 2022, doi:10.4324/9781003048602.

Otto, Barbara. Fools Are Everywhere: The Court Jester Around the World. U of Chicago P, 2001.

Rastrick, Ólafur. “Physical Impairment and the Spatial Dimensions of Everyday Life in Rural Households in Pre-industrial Iceland.” Understanding Disability Throughout History: Interdisciplinary Perspectives in Iceland from Settlement to 1936, edited by Hanna Björg Sigurjónsdóttir and James G. Rice, pp. 128-145. Routledge, 2021.

Roy, Archie W.N. and Gisela Dimigen. “The History of Access to Education of People with Visual Impairments in Great Britain from 1656 to 1999.” The Routledge History of Disability, edited by Roy Hanes, Ivan Brown and Nancy E. Hansen, pp. 258-272. Routledge, 2018.

Scalenghe, Sara. Disability in the Ottoman Arab World, 1500–1800. Cambridge U P, 2014.

—. “The Deaf in Ottoman Syria, 16th-18th Centuries.” Arab Studies Journal, vol. XII, no. 2-XIII:1, 2004, pp. 10-25.

—. “Disability in the Premodern Arab World,” The Oxford Handbook of Disability History, edited by Michael Rembis, Catherine Kudlick, and Kim E. Nielsen. Oxford U P, 2018, DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780190234959.013.5.

Schattner, Angela. “Disabled to Work? Impairment, the in/ability to Work and Perceptions of dis/ability in Late Medieval and Early Modern Germany.” Disability Studies Quarterly, vol. 37, no. 4, 2017,

Stainton, Tim. “Reason, Value and Persons: The Construction of Intellectual Disability in Western Thought from Antiquity to the Romantic Age.” The Routledge History of Disability, edited by Roy Hanes, Ivan Brown and Nancy E. Hansen, pp. 11-34. Routledge, 2018.

Steinert, Ulrike. Systems of Classification in Premodern Medical Cultures Sickness, Health, and Local Epistemologies. Routledge, 2020.

Sutherland-Meier, Madeline. “Toward a History of the Blind in Spain.” Disability Studies Quarterly, vol. 35, no. 4, 4, Nov. 2015.

Thiher, Allen. Revels in Madness: Insanity in Medicine and Literature. U of Michigan P, 1999, doi:10.3998/mpub.16078.

Turner, David M., and Kevin Stagg, editors. Social Histories of Disability and Deformity: Bodies, Images and Experiences. Routledge, 2006.

Van Houdt, Toon. “The Imperfect Body in Nazi Germany: Ancient Concepts, Modern Technologies.” Disability in Antiquity, edited by Christian Laes, Routledge, 2016, pp. 484 – 495.

von Bernuth, Ruth. “Fools: From Marvels of Nature to Asylum Inmates. Imaginations of Natural Folly.” Disability Studies Quarterly, vol. 26, no. 2, 2, Mar. 2006.

Wang, Fuson. A Brief Literary History of Disability. Taylor and Francis, 2022, doi:10.4324/9781003244400.

Weygand, Zina. The Blind in French Society from the Middle Ages to the Century of Louis Braille. Translated by Emily-Jane Cohen. Stanford U P, 2009.

Wilson, Jeffrey R. Richard III’s Bodies from Medieval England to Modernity: Shakespeare and Disability History. Temple U P, 2022, DOI:10.4324/9781315564838.

Wright, David. “Developmental and Physical Disabilities: The ‘Blind,’ ‘Deaf and Dumb,’ and ‘Idiot’.” Encyclopedia of European Social History, edited by Peter N. Stearns, vol. 3: Social Structure/Social Protest/Deviance & Crime/Social Problems, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2001, pp. 507-515.

Zirpolo, Lilian H. “Blindness from Antiquity to the Early Modern Era and Its Depiction in Art.” The Routledge Companion to Art and Disability, edited by Keri Watson and Timothy W. Hiles, Routledge, 2022.

  • From abstract: “This essay examines particular works from the ancient, medieval, and Early Modern eras and places them within the context of popular and legally sanctioned constructions of blindness.”