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TelethonsSpectacle, Disability, and the Business of Charity$
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Paul K. Longmore

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780190262075

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190262075.001.0001

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American and Un-American Bodies

American and Un-American Bodies

Searching for Fitness through Technology and Sport

(p.121) 9 American and Un-American Bodies

Paul K. Longmore

, Catherine Kudlick
Oxford University Press

In fully embracing the medical model of disability, telethons both drew on and transmitted distinctly American notions of embodiment. Twentieth-century body ideology interacted with the medical model, the charity tradition, and American myths of the sovereignty of the self to frame the bodies and identities of people with disabilities as the negation of appropriate modern bodies/selves. Subject to an increasingly consumer-oriented, commoditized culture, bodies came to be seen as manageable tools that could be fixed, made more “perfect.” The power to define and regulate socially appropriate bodies shifted from religious institutions to nation-states; workplaces; medical facilities; and, in late modernity, various cultural sites of body expertise regarding fashion, fitness, and sport. How television presented bodies on programs such as telethons reflected these imperatives and also played a part in shaping them.

Keywords:   fitness, dance, sports, consumerism, corporate sponsors, patriotism, body enhancement, self-sovereignty, assistive technology, able-bodiedness

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