Lennard J. Davis
Lennard J. Davis, a nationally and internationally known American specialist in disability studies, is Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Illinois at Chicago, School of Arts and Sciences, and also Professor of Disability and Human Development in the School of Applied Health Sciences and Professor of Medical Education in the University of Illinois College of Medicine.
He is also director of Project Biocultures, a think-tank devoted to studying the intersection of culture, medicine, disability, biotechnology, and the biosphere. His current interests include disability-related issues; literary and cultural theory; genetics, race, identity; and biocultural issues.
- 1996 Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Human Rights’ annual award for the best scholarship on the subject of intolerance in North America
- Guggenheim Fellowship for his book Obsession: A History
- National Book Critics Circle Nominee for My Sense of Silence, 2001
- Fulbright Recipient, lecturing in New Zealand at Victoria University of Wellington, University of Waikato, and Auckland University, 1994
- American Council of Learned Societies Award 1986.
Davis is the author of works in a number of fields.
In English literature, he has written two works on the novel, Factual Fictions: The Origins of the English Novel (Columbia U. Press, 1983, rpt. University of Pennsylvania Press, 1996 ISBN) and Resisting Novels: Fiction and Ideology (Routledge, 1987, rpt. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001) and been co-editor of Left Politics and the Literary Profession.
His works on disability include Enforcing Normalcy: Disability, Deafness, and the Body (Verso, 1995), and The Disability Studies Reader (Routledge, 4th edition 2014). A collection of his essays entitled Bending Over Backwards: Disability, Dismodernism, and Other Difficult Positions was published by New York University Press in August 2002. He is also the author of The End of Normal: Identity in a Biocultural Era (U of Michigan, 2014). His latest book is a history of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act titled Enabling Acts: The Hidden Story of How the Americans with Disabilities Act Gave the Largest US Minority Its Rights, published by Beacon Press in July 2015 on the 25th anniversary of that act.
His memoir My Sense of Silence (University of Illinois Press, 2000), was chosen Editor’s Choice Book for the Chicago Tribune, selected for the National Book Award for 2000, and nominated for the Book Critics Circle Award for 2000. He has appeared on National Public Radio’s "Fresh Air" to discuss the memoir, which describes his childhood in a deaf family. Davis has also edited his parents’ correspondence, Shall I Say a Kiss: The Courtship Letters of a Deaf Couple. (Gallaudet University Press, 1999).
Davis is a co-founder of the Modern Language Association’s Committee on Disability Issues in the Profession, and he is on the board of several academic journals. Having written widely for newspapers and magazines, Davis is also the author of a novel entitled The Sonnets (State University of New York Press, March 2001).
His book Go Ask Your Father: One Man's Obsession with Finding Himself, His Origins, and the Meaning of Life Through Genetic Testing was published in 2009 by Bantam/Dell. Obsession: A History appeared in Fall 2009 by University of Chicago Press.
His fiction includes The Sonnets: A Novel (SUNY Press, 2002).
Davis has also been a commentator on National Public Radio’s "All Things Considered," and appeared on "Morning Edition," "This American Life," "Odyssey," "The Leonard Lopate Show" and other NPR affiliates.
- Margaret Diehl, “Pounding at the Door” (Review of My Sense of Silence) in The New York Times "Sunday Book Review" (March 5, 2000)
- Review of My Sense of Silence by Melisa Siegler in Journal of Genetic Counseling, 2001
- Review of "Bending over backwards" by Susan Squier, Professor of Women's Studies and English at Pennsylvania State University