Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Ugly Laws: Disability in Public” as Want to Read:
The Ugly Laws: Disability in Public
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Ugly Laws: Disability in Public

3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  41 ratings  ·  7 reviews
In the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, municipallaws targeting "unsightly beggars" sprang up in cities across America. Seeming to criminalize disability and thus offering a visceral example of discrimination, these "ugly laws" have become a sort of shorthand for oppression in disability studies, law, and the arts.

In this watershed study of the ugly laws, Sus
Hardcover, 431 pages
Published May 1st 2009 by New York University Press
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Ugly Laws, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Ugly Laws

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 162)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Margaret Sankey
In the late 19th century, new urban governments passed ordinances to prevent the display of ugliness in public space--driven by new understandings of disease vectors, Victorian offense at ""fake"" crippled beggars and visions of ""new cities"". Quickly, these became a useful catch-all to round up beggars, cross-dressers, peddlers, unruly women (wearing trousers!), insufficiently humble non-white people and anything generating ""foreign"" noises or smells. Of course, it became complicated when th ...more
Audacia Ray
I'd like to give this book 5 stars for interesting ideas, and 1 star for the droll and somewhat confusing academic writing. So 3 stars it is.

The analysis of the relationship between "ugly laws" that criminalize poor people and people with disabilities for being in public and the rise of charities was nothing short of stunning intellectually. It was really intriguing/disturbing to see how these things all connect up. The author also hits hard on the distinction between "meaning well" and doing ac
Another candidate for a 3 1/2 star review. Hugely important, and oftentimes brilliant, The Ugly Laws is also much, much too long. Fans will argue that Schweik's archive needs to be so vast in order to expose the all-encompassing reach of the Ugly Laws. It's a fine argument, but it still does not remedy the book's scattered focus and lack of cohesion. The middle three chapters that simply pay homage to the holy race-class-gender trinity that remains central to virtually all cultural studies work ...more
Danine Spencer
It took me two years to read this book. The information is fascinating but the writing is atrocious. I often found myself bored after a page or two and put the book away for months. I only forced myself to finish it because I wanted to move it off my "currently reading" list. The sad thing is, with better prose, "The Ugly Laws" could have been another "The Warmth of Other Suns".
Sherry Lee
Academics, we sometimes write too much. This book is an example of where less would be more. It is a good book on an important topic.
I had to read this for a sociology class and I loved it. The Ugly Laws should be mandatory reading. It's an eye opener!
Mills College Library
346.73013 S4132 2009
Angela marked it as to-read
Jul 07, 2015
Jade is currently reading it
Jul 05, 2015
Amy marked it as to-read
Jul 01, 2015
Steven Watt
Steven Watt marked it as to-read
Jun 18, 2015
Kyan Oliver
Kyan Oliver marked it as to-read
May 29, 2015
Jenny Patton
Jenny Patton marked it as to-read
May 16, 2015
David added it
May 16, 2015
Emily marked it as to-read
May 06, 2015
Peter marked it as to-read
Apr 13, 2015
Amber marked it as to-read
Apr 11, 2015
Sydney Rock
Sydney Rock marked it as to-read
Feb 07, 2015
Athena marked it as to-read
Feb 07, 2015
Matthew Gilboy
Matthew Gilboy marked it as to-read
Feb 06, 2015
Elana marked it as to-read
Feb 04, 2015
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
My book The Ugly Laws has just come out from NYU Press (May 2009). In it you can find everything you ever wanted to know about the U.S. laws prohibiting people who were "diseased, maimed, deformed so as to be unsightly or disgusting objects" from "exposing themselves to public view." You can also find information about the most famous disabled person you never heard of.
More about Susan Schweik...
A Gulf So Deeply Cut: American Women Poets and the Second World War

Share This Book