Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies

Historicizing an Ocularnormative Future for Art Education

Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies (2022), 16, (1), 5–22.


The future of art education is shaped by its past, yet the history of art education in special or segregated schools is largely absent from authorized histories of the subject. Previous historical accounts of educational policy and practice establish art and disability as parallel concerns. However, the emergence of educational institutions to promote the visual arts and the contemporaneous establishment of segregated education for disabled children and young people indicate the significance of capitalist industrialization on the production of both. Beginning in the mid-nineteenth century, the article examines parallel histories and the futurity they imagine via an exploration of two key texts: Arthur Efland’s A History of Art Education (1990) and Michael Royden’s history of the Royal School for the Blind in Liverpool, Pioneers and Perseverence (1991). An increased emphasis on observation and drawing as a means of enhancing quality in British design prescribed an ocularnormative future for art education at this time while education at the Royal School for the Blind shifted its emphasis from technical, craft, and arts-based training to a literacy-based education. The article discusses the relevance of these parallel concerns and the apparent inevitability of an ocularnormative future for art education.

Access Token
If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Works Cited

Bell, Quentin. The Schools of Design. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1963. Print. Google Scholar

Berardi, Franco “Biffo.” AND Phenomenology of the End. South Pasadena, CA: Semiotext(e), 2015. Print. Google Scholar

Bolt, David. The Metanarrative of Blindness: A Re-Reading of Twentieth-Century Anglophone Writing. Ann Arbour: Michigan UP, 2016. Print. Google Scholar

Carline, Richard. Draw They Must. London: Edward Arnold, 1968. Print. Google Scholar

DeCoster, Karin and Gerrit Loots. “Somewhere in Between Touch and Vision: In Search of a Meaningful Art Education for Blind Individuals.” International Journal of Art and Design Education 23.3 (2004): 326-34. Print. Google Scholar

Dobyns, J.R. “Exhibits of Deaf-Mutes, Made at the World’s Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition at New Orleans, in the Deaf-Mute Department and the State Departments.” American Annals of the Deaf and Dumb 30.4 (1885): 287-92. Print. Google Scholar

Duncum, Paul. “An Eye Does Not Make an I: Expanding the Sensorium.” Studies in Art Education 53.3 (2012): 182-93. Print. Google Scholar

Efland, Arthur, D. A History of Art Education: Intellectual and Social Currents in Teaching the Visual Arts. New York: Teachers College Press, 1990. Print. Google Scholar

Foucault, Michel. Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. St Ives: Penguin, 1991. Print. Google Scholar

Foucault, Michel. “History of Systems of Thought.” Language, Counter-memory, Practice: Selected Essays and Interviews by Michael Foucault. Ed. Donald F. Bouchard. New York: Cornell UP, 1977. 199-204. Print. Google Scholar

Foucault, Michel. “The Subject and Power.” Critical Inquiry 8.4 (1982): 777-95. Print. Google Scholar

Jay, Martin. Downcast Eyes: The Denigration of Vision in Twentieth-Century French Thought. Oakland: California UP, 1994. Print. Google Scholar

Kafer, Alison. Feminist, Queer, Crip. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 2013. Print. Google Scholar

Kleege, Georgina. More Than Meets the Eye: What Blindness Brings to Art. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2018. Print. Google Scholar

MacDonald, Stuart. The History and Philosophy of Art Education. London: U of London P, 1970. Print. Google Scholar

McPeake, Aaron. “Bell Bronzes: Reflections on a Blind Visual Arts Practice.” Disability Studies Quarterly 38.3 (2018). Web. 7 Dec. 2022. Google Scholar

Oliver, Michael. Capitalism, Disability and Ideology: A Materialist Critique of the Normalization Principle. 1993. Web. 13 Aug. 2020. Google Scholar

Rice, Carla, Eliza Chandler, Jen Rinaldi, Nadine Changfoot, Kirsty Liddiard, Roxanne Mykitiuk, and Ingrid Mündel. “Imagining Disability Futurities.” Hypatia 32.2 (2017): 213-29. Print. Google Scholar

Romans, Mervyn. Histories of Art and Design: Collected Essays. Bristol: Intellect, 2005. Print. Google Scholar

Royden, Michael, W. Pioneers and Perseverance: A History of the Royal School for the Blind, Liverpool 1791-1991. Liverpool: Countyvise/Royal School for the Blind, 1991. Print. Google Scholar

Siebers, Tobin. Disability Aesthetics. Ann Arbour: Michigan UP, 2010. Print. Google Scholar

Slorach, Roddy. A Very Capitalist Condition: A History and Politics of Disability. London: Bloomsbury, 2016. Print. Google Scholar

Smith, Kate, web ed. History of Place Project. 2018. Web. 22 Aug. 2020. Google Scholar

Solvang, Per Koren. “Between Art Therapy and Disability Aesthetics: A Sociological Approach for Understanding the Intersection Between Art Practice and Disability Discourse.” Disability & Society 33.2 (2018): 238-53. Print. Google Scholar

Spencer, Stephanie. “Learning the Rules: Writing and Researching School Stories in History of Education.” History of Education Review 47.1 (2018): 2-15. Print. Google Scholar

Stankiewicz, Mary Ann. “The Eye Is a Nobler Organ”: Ruskin and American Art Education. The Journal of Aesthetic Education 18.2 (1984): 51-64. Print. Google Scholar

Watson, Nick and Simo Vehmans. Routledge Handbook of Disability Studies. Abingdon: Routledge, 2020. Print. Google Scholar

Weston, Kurt. Artist Statement. Web. 5 Dec. 2020. Google Scholar

If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here


Author details

Penketh, Claire