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The Best Years of Our Lives: Engineering the Body

Sunday, Mar 24, 2019

Location: Redstone Theater

With historian David Serlin and assistive technology expert Anita Perr in conversation

Dir. William Wyler. 1946, 170 mins. DCP. With Myrna Loy, Fredric March, Teresa Wright, Dana Andrews, Virginia Mayo, Harold Russell, Hoagy Carmichael. Three veterans struggle to readjust to their home lives after World War II. The biggest struggle comes for Homer (played by real-life veteran Harold Russell), who has lost both hands in combat and must learn to adapt to prosthetic hooks. Winner of eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Actor (March), William Wyler’s production is one of the most moving of all classic Hollywood films. The screening will be followed by a conversation about engineering prosthetics and the power and limitations of non-normative bodies.


About the speakers:

David Serlin is a professor of Communication and Science Studies, and affiliated faculty in Critical Gender Studies, at the University of California, San Diego. A former research fellow at the National Institutes of Health, Professor Serlin’s books include Artificial Parts, Practical Lives: Modern Histories of Prosthetics (NYU Press, 2002), Replaceable You: Engineering the Body in Postwar America (University of Chicago Press, 2004), and Keywords for Disability Studies (NYU Press, 2015).

Anita Perr is a Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy at New York University. She has expertise in the use of assistive technology by persons with disabilities. Collaborations that Dr. Perr spearheaded with NYU Tisch’s Interactive Telecommunications Program and NYU Tandon’s Integrated Digital Media Program resulted in the development of the NYU Ability project, an interdisciplinary research space for the development of assistive technologies, where Dr. Perr is the Co-Director.