Rosemarie Garland-Thomson is a professor of women’s studies at Emory University; her fields of study are feminist theory, American literature, and disability studies. Her most recent book, Staring: How We Look (Oxford University Press, 2009), defines staring, explores the factors that motivate it, and considers the targets and the effects of the stare. While borrowing from psychology and biology to help explain why the impulse to stare is so powerful, she also enlarges and complicates these formulations with examples from the realm of imaginative culture.
Garland-Thomson’s current book project, “Habitable Worlds: Eugenic Spaces and Democratic Spaces,” further explores questions of disability in the public sphere by responding to Hannah Arendt’s provocative statement that political regimes ought not to determine “who should or should not inhabit the world.” To conceptualize what Nancy Mairs calls “habitable worlds,” Garland-Thomson begins with the premise that the shape of the material world we build and occupy expresses and determines who inhabits it. This project seeks to excavate the intentions, logics, narratives, and consequences embedded in actual habitable and uninhabitable worlds so as to clarify how, together, we make human communities.
Garland-Thomson, who earned a PhD in English from Brandeis University, has been the recipient of several fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst (German Academic Exchange Service). The Utne Reader named her in its 2009 list of “50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World,” and the Society for Disability Studies recognized her with its 2010 Senior Scholar Award.