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presenting There Plant Eyes: A Personal and Cultural History of Blindness
Harvard Book Store’s virtual event series welcomes award-winning writer, performer, and educator M. LEONA GODIN for a discussion of her latest, highly anticipated book, There Plant Eyes: A Personal and Cultural History of Blindness.
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About There Plant Eyes
From Homer to Helen Keller, from Dune to Stevie Wonder, from the invention of braille to the science of echolocation, M. Leona Godin explores the fascinating history of blindness, interweaving it with her own story of gradually losing her sight.
There Plant Eyes probes the ways in which blindness has shaped our ocularcentric culture, challenging deeply ingrained ideas about what it means to be “blind.” For millennia, blindness has been used to signify such things as thoughtlessness (“blind faith”), irrationality (“blind rage”), and unconsciousness (“blind evolution”). But at the same time, blind people have been othered as the recipients of special powers as compensation for lost sight (from the poetic gifts of John Milton to the heightened senses of the comic book hero Daredevil).
Godin—who began losing her vision at age ten—illuminates the often-surprising history of both the condition of blindness and the myths and ideas that have grown up around it over the course of generations. She combines an analysis of blindness in art and culture (from King Lear to Star Wars) with a study of the science of blindness and key developments in accessibility (the white cane, embossed printing, digital technology) to paint a vivid personal and cultural history.
A genre-defying work, There Plant Eyes reveals just how essential blindness and vision are to humanity’s understanding of itself and the world.
Praise for There Plant Eyes
“There Plant Eyes is so graceful, so wise, so effortlessly erudite, I learned something new and took pleasure in every page. All hail its originality, its humanity, and its ‘philosophical obsession with diversity in all its complicated and messy glory.’” —Maggie Nelson, author of The Argonauts
“Godin guides readers through the surprising twists and turns in Western blind history, from ancient seers to contemporary scientists. The lively writing style and memorable personal anecdotes are delightful. This book is a gift to both blind and sighted readers.” —Haben Girma, human rights lawyer and author of the bestselling Haben: The Deaf blind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law
“This sighted disabled person learned so much from There Plant Eyes! The book took me on a cultural journey that showed how blindness is beautiful, complex, and brilliant.” —Alice Wong, editor of Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories from the Twenty-first Century