Category Archives: Sociology

The History of Learning Disability

chris-goodey1This is a guest post from Chris Goodey

A group of academics from five separate disciplines – Education, Ancient History, Social Work, English Literature, and a stray teacher of mature students (myself) – have put together a WordPress site which is based on our common interest in conceptual history but which also invites immediate engagement with politics and public affairs. The topic is intellectual disability, or learning disability, or developmental disability, or cognitive disability, or mental handicap, or mental retardation. And that’s just the current usages.

No wonder the conceptual history is deeply problematic – and therefore of deep interest to those involved. For the rest of you, perhaps not. So far. But I do assure you that if you value your status as intelligent people, you will need to know how to defend yourself against the notion that both intellectual disability and “intelligence” itself are not natural kinds but historically contingent ways in which human beings represent themselves to themselves and to each other, and no more. We can’t advise you how to defend yourselves, but at least our shocking notions will reveal the massive nature of the challenge.

My original idea was to create a personal website that would, among other things, reinforce the excellent job Ashgate had done in publishing and marketing my book A History of Intelligence and ‘Intellectual Disability’: The Shaping of Psychology in Early Modern Europe. It soon became clear, though, that a collective effort was both needed and possible, the number of people with a historical research orientation in this field being very small. Tim Stainton, Murray Simpson, Lynn Rose, Patrick McDonagh and I think we have started something that will radically alter present directions in the critical analysis of psychological concepts. WordPress seems the ideal means. Time will tell.

Chris Goodey has held teaching posts at Ruskin College, Oxford, the Open University and the University of London Institute of Education, and is currently an independent consultant working for national and local government services on learning disability in the UK. He is the author of A History of Intelligence and ‘Intellectual Disability’: The Shaping of Psychology in Early Modern Europe

Goodey case_Goodey case‘This timely, daring and challenging book… a phenomenally ambitious, interesting and reflective interdisciplinary history of ideas… assembles some convincing evidence for the processes by which changing sets of ideas, or an accident of historical contingencies, have come to shape allegedly incontrovertible universal truths. At the risk of turning a tautological phrase, this is a highly intellectual history of intellectual disability.’ Medical History

Ashgate Author, Roger Cotterrell, Awarded the Socio-Legal Studies Association (SLSA) 2013 Prize for Contributions to the Socio-Legal Community

The Socio-Legal Studies Association (SLSA) was formed in 1990, established as a result of the Socio-Legal Group’s annual meeting (now a conference) for socio-legal scholars to gather and circulate their work.  The conference, however, is not the SLSA’s only annual occurrence.  They also facilitate three annual awards, one of which is the SLSA Prize for Contributions to the Socio-Legal Community.  It is this prize we are pleased to announce that Ashgate author, Roger Cotterrell, of Law, Culture and Society (among several others) has been awarded.

Cotterell is formally trained in both law and sociology from the University of London and has been an academician for some time.  He’s been an Anniversary Professor of Legal Theory at School of Law, Queen Mary, University of London since 2005—which was the same year he was elected as a Fellow of the British Academy. This honor is given only to a select few law professors and is considered the highest recognition for scholars in the UK.  This alone illustrates the importance of Cotterrell’s work to the field.

However, prior to this most recent appointment as Anniverary Professor, Cotterrell served in various other capacities, including the Acting Head and Head of the College’s Department of Law (1989–1991), Dean of the Faculty of Laws (1993–1996), and Professor of Legal Theory (1990–2005).  And, before joining the Queen Mary faculty, he taught at the University of Leicester. He has held several visiting academic positions over the years, spanning across the globe from Texas to Brussels to Hong Kong.  He’s served on countless journal advisory boards also with an international range, including but not limited to the Journal of Law and Society (UK); Griffith Law Review (Australia); Clio & Themis (France); and Comparative Law Review (Poland).  In addition to this service, he’s authored and edited over 100 books, chapters, and journal articles over the course of his (still on-going) career.

It should be of no surprise then that other scholars in his field recognize him as an essential contributor to the Socio-Legal field.  Other scholars like David Nelken (also an Ashgate author) nominated Cotterell for this award. In his nomination letter, Nelken stated:

Roger is, for most of his peers, the leading social theorist of law and sociologist of law in
the UK, and amongst the very best worldwide…The range of his corpus of work is second
to none amongst his colleagues…Roger has been a model to generations of colleagues
and students. He is an exemplary scholar that our field is fortunate to have produced.

We congratulate Cotterrell on his most recent accomplishment and celebrate in the outstanding contributions he’s made to his field and to academia. May we also say, we are proud to have him among our Ashgate authors.

Roger Cotterrell’s other Ashgate books include: Law and Society (1994), Sociological Perspectives on Law (two volumes, 2001), Law in Social Theory (2006), Living Law (2008) and Émile Durkheim (2010).

Interested in accessing free online content to Roger Cotterrell’s book Law, Culture and Society?  Become an email subscriber and receive monthly updates on exclusive promotions and offers.  Sign up at In February 2014, we’ll be featuring Cotterrell’s book!

What does it mean to be an academic today? Why do so many students and their teachers feel like frauds?

An article by Ruth Barcan appears in the current issue of the THE – Why do some academics feel like frauds?

This is the theme of Ruth Barcan’s newly published book Academic Life and Labour in the New University: Hope and Other Choices.

Academic Life and Labour in the New University

What does it mean to be an academic today?

What kinds of experiences do students have, and how are they affected by what they learn?

Why do so many students and their teachers feel like frauds?

Can we learn to teach and research in ways that foster hope and deflate pretension?

‘Balanced, lucid and scrupulously enquiring, this is the best book I have read about the forces shaping everyday life in the new university and the dilemmas confronting teachers, researchers and students. Firmly based in the experience of work, Barcan’s case for an ethics that does not leave us stranded between despair and resignation gives those of us who still value academic life good grounds for hope indeed.’   Meaghan Morris, University of Sydney, Australia

‘Finally a book with the patience and perspective to explain the reality of work in the university today. Against the current regime of myopic productivity, Ruth Barcan offers her colleagues a vision of humility and hope. It is a vitalism that emerges when academics focus on the place that still matters and promises most: the classroom.’   Melissa Gregg, University of California, Irvine, USA

‘A deeply affecting book that will speak to the experiences of all precarious, time-pressured and surveilled academics who have found that working in the Academy is not what they expected. Ruth Barcan offers us both a powerful critique of life in the contemporary University, and a politics of hope that other, better ways are possible.’   Rosalind Gill, King’s College London, UK

Drawing on a range of international media sources, political discourse and many years’ professional experience, Academic Life and Labour in the New University explores approaches to teaching and research, with special emphasis on the importance of collegiality, intellectual honesty and courage. With attention to the intersection of large-scale institutional changes and intellectual shifts such as the rise of transdisciplinarity and the development of a pluralist curriculum, this book proposes the pursuit of more ethical, compassionate and critical forms of teaching and research.

About the Author: Ruth Barcan is a senior lecturer in the Department of Gender and Cultural Studies at the University of Sydney, Australia. She is the author of Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Bodies, Therapies, Senses (2011), and Nudity: A Cultural Anatomy (2004). She is also co-editor of Imagining Australian Space: Cultural Studies and Spatial Inquiry (1999), and Planet Diana: Cultural Studies and Global Mourning (1997).

More about Academic Life and Labour in the New University: Hope and Other Choices.

Ashgate is delighted to announce the launch of a new series – Memory Studies-Global Constellations

Posted by Claire Jarvis, Senior Commissioning Editor

Edited by Henri-Lustiger-Thaler, the new Memory Studies-Global Constellations series takes as its starting point the belief that the ‘past in the present’ has returned in the early twenty-first century with a vengeance, and with it the expansion of categories of experience. These experiences have largely been lost in the advance of rationalist and constructivist understandings of subjectivity and their collective representations. The cultural stakes around forgetting, ‘useful forgetting’ and remembering, locally, regionally, nationally and globally have risen exponentially. It is therefore not unusual that ‘migrant memories’; micro-histories; personal and individual memories in their interwoven relation to cultural, political and social narratives; the mnemonic past and present of emotions, embodiment and ritual; and finally, the mnemonic spatiality of geography and territories are receiving more pronounced hearings.

This transpires as the social sciences themselves are consciously globalizing their knowledge bases. In addition to the above, the reconstructive logic of memory in the juggernaut of galloping informationalization is rendering it more and more publically accessible, and therefore part of a new global public constellation around the coding of meaning and experience. Memory studies as an academic field of social and cultural inquiry emerges at a time when global public debate – buttressed by the fragmentation of national narratives – has accelerated. Societies today, in late globalized conditions, are pregnant with newly unmediated and unfrozen memories once sequestered in wide collective representations. We welcome manuscripts that examine and analyze these profound cultural traces.

This is an interdisciplinary series, with each publication appealing not only to sociologists and memory studies scholars, but a variety of disciplines which connect with the larger questions being addressed.

The series editor- Henri Lustiger-Thaler- is a specialist in the emerging field of collective memory and movements scholar at Ramapo College, New Jersey USA and Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, France. He is author of Political Arrangements: Power and the City and co-editor of Globalization and Social Movements and Urban Movements in a Globalizing World. He is currently editing a book for Ashgate entitled Reimagining Social Movements and writing a book for Yale University Press on the Orthodox Jewish experience of the Holocaust.

Both Henri and I are actively looking for new proposals for the series, so if you’d like further information, please email me at

Film Philosophy Series Launch

Posted by Claire Jarvis, Senior Commissioning Editor

Ashgate is delighted to announce the launch of a new series – Film Philosophy at the Margins.

MacCormackEdited by Patricia MacCormack (author of Cinesexuality and Posthuman Ethics), this series picks up on the burgeoning field of ‘film philosophy’ – the shift from film analysis and explication to bringing together film with philosophy – and coalesces it with films, genres and spectator theory.

The film philosophy which underpins this series is primarily Continental philosophy, rather than the more dominant field of cognitive film philosophy, utilizing increasingly attractive philosophers for film theory such as Deleuze, Guattari, Ranciere, Foucault, Irigaray and Kristeva.

This series will establish a refined and sophisticated methodology for re-invigorating issues of alterity both in the films chosen and the means by which Continental philosophers of difference can paradigmatically alter ways of address and representation that lifts this kind of theory beyond analysis and criticism to help rethink the terrain of film theory itself.

This is an interdisciplinary series, with each publication appealing not only film scholars and non-academics interested in film, but a variety of disciplines which connect with the larger philosophical questions being addressed.

The first book in the series will be Ruth McPhee’s Female Sexuality in Contemporary Western Cinema due out in 2014.

Both Patricia and I are actively looking for new proposals for the series, so if you’d like further information, please email me at I will also be attending the Film Philosophy conference taking place in Amsterdam in July if you’re attending and would like to arrange a face-to-face meeting.

Jean-François Lyotard – his later work

Posted by Claire Jarvis, Senior Commissioning Editor

Given the widespread and ongoing attention paid to the writings of Deleuze, Derrida and Foucault, it is perhaps unusual that the writings of Jean-François Lyotard have been comparatively overlooked,  given the relevance of much of his work to the topics the body, affect, the subject, and the impact of postmodernity on the human condition.

His later works (produced from 1990 until his death his 1998) have much to offer contemporary philosophical debate. In them, Lyotard addresses a number of themes that both return to and move beyond those of his earlier work, including art and aesthetics, affect, ethics and politics, modernity and, the subject.

Rereading LyotardHeidi Bickis and Rob Shields have skilfully edited Rereading Jean-François Lyotard, the first book in English to focus on Lyotard’s later writings. By bringing together established scholars and new academics, they demonstrate a wide engagement with Lyotard’s thought. This pathbreaking volume also include a contribution from Dolorès Lyotard -a ‘‘Presentation’ to ‘À l’écrit bâté’- and a copy of one of Lyotard’s manuscript pages.

We are delighted to announce that Rereading Jean-François Lyotard has been designated A Yankee Book Peddler US Core Title for 2013. Visit our website to read extracts from the text and to order the book with a 10% online discount.

Sociology in the Mainstream as Never Before!

Posted by Claire Jarvis, Senior Commissioning Editor

Last month’s British Sociological Association conference (BSA) featured a hugely fascinating keynote session from Polly Toynbee and Laurie Taylor. In it, they argued that sociology has gone mainstream in a way that it hasn’t been for quite some time. Networked UrbanismThe BSA was held during the week that The Great British Class Calculator was launched. This was designed and the data analysed by Professors Mike Savage (editor of ‘Networked Urbanism’) and Fiona Devine and their teams at the London School of Economics and the Universities of York and Manchester. It seemed to provoke as much debate in the media and wider society as it did at the BSA!

Another fine example of sociologists’  work achieving coverage in the mainstream press is a recent article in ‘The Mirror’ featuring Ashgate author Jenny van Hooff talking about physical attractiveness and relationships.

Modern CouplesDr van Hooff is the author of Modern Couples? : Continuity and Change in Heterosexual Relationships. This fascinating and ground-breaking book questions the extent to which contemporary relationships have become detraditionalized, and emphasizes evidence of continuing gender inequalities. Read the first chapter on our website.

We’re launching a new series – ‘Interdisciplinary Disability Studies’

Ashgate Publishing is delighted to announce the launch of a new series Interdisciplinary Disability Studies. Edited by renowned disability studies scholar, Mark Sherry (author of Disability Hate Crimes), this series will reflect the great strides disability studies has made in exploring the relationship between power and the body.

By extending the interdisciplinary dialogue between disability studies and other disciplines, books published in this series will show how a deep engagement with disability studies changes our understanding of the following fields: sociology, literary studies, gender studies, bioethics, social work, law, education, and history.

This ground-breaking series identifies both the practical and theoretical implications of such an interdisciplinary dialogue and challenges people in disability studies as well as other disciplinary fields to critically reflect on their professional praxis in terms of theory, practice, and methods.

If you have a proposal you think would be suitable for the series, please contact Claire Jarvis

“Highly recommended” in Choice magazine: Ryan Ashley Caldwell’s Fallgirls

Posted by David Cota, Marketing Coordinator

“…Caldwell’s book deserves a wide audience…The book highlights the pervasive misuse of gender by an overbearing, male-dominated institution and the social science research that validates it…Highly recommended…”   —Choice, October 2012

Ryan Ashley Caldwell explains in the preface why she was compelled to write Fallgirls:

I wrote this book based on my experiences as a researcher in sociology for the trials of Lynndie England and Sabrina Harman, and as a co-expert witness and researcher for the defense. As I participated in these trials with Dr. Stjepan Mestrovic, many different themes became apparent to me. Issues of power, gender, control, punishment, deceit, to name a few, were manifest in both the trials and the stories that were shared with me about Abu Ghraib. I knew then that there was more to Abu Ghraib then was being reported in the media and that it was my job to further convey these stories in ways that I knew how. I knew almost immediately that my reading of this abuse would apply a critical power perspective that used gender as a primary point of departure. This I could do.

Fallgirls provides an analysis of the abuses that took place at Abu Ghraib in terms of social theory, gender and power, based on first-hand participant-observations of the courts-martials of Lynndie England and Sabrina Harman.

The book examines the trials themselves, including interactions with soldiers and defense teams, documents pertaining to the courts-martials, US government reports and photographs from Abu Ghraib, in order to challenge the view that the abuses were carried out at the hands of a few rogue soldiers.

Visit Ashgate’s website to continue reading and to learn more about Fallgirls

To browse other newly reviewed Ashgate books in Choice see

“Highly recommended” in Choice magazine: Knut A. Jacobsen and Kristina Myrvold’s Sikhs in Europe

Posted by Luana Life, Marketing Coordinator

“…The editors deserve praise for bringing together this set of well-researched papers in a single volume. The book fills a major gap in the knowledge about Sikh communities in several European countries, and is a major contribution to the study of international migration, religion and multiculturalism…Highly recommended….”   Choice, August 2012

Learn more about Sikhs in Europe on our website

To browse other newly reviewed Ashgate books in Choice see