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Helen Keller:
Rethinking the Problematic Icon

Written by Liz Crow
The creation of an icon and the truth of Keller’s life
Disability & Society, Oct 2000.


More than thirty years after her death, Helen Keller is still known internationally as the little deaf blind girl, the ‘miracle child’ who triumphed over adversity.  But behind the image, hidden from the public gaze, was a flesh-and-blood woman, writer and radical activist, suffragette and Socialist.  She was a woman who lived to old age, yet is fixed in the public imagination as an eternal child.

This paper charts the creation of Keller’s popular image and enduring iconic status, analysing their purpose and the implications they hold for us as disabled people.  It then examines the truth of her life, revealing how contemporary are the issues which determined it.  Finally, it explores the value of retelling her biography and the relevance it holds in the building of disability culture.

To read the full text, please download the PDF below.

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To cite this page: Crow, Liz (2000) Helen Keller: Rethinking the Problematic Icon, Roaring Girl Productions [online] [Available at:] [Accessed 14/07/2024]