Project Biocultures Talk (Ato Quayson)


On Monday I attended with several of my students from English 240 the Project Biocultures talk by Ato Quayson, Professor of English at the University of Toronto and founding Director of the Centre for Diaspora and Transnational Studies.

Professor Quayson began by describing his approach to Disability Studies, much of which came from his book Aesthetic Nervousness.  The moderator for the talk, Leonard Davis, rightly noted that Quayson’s approach to disability was broad but in a theoretically enabling way. This observation was born out in the second portion of the talk where Quayson applied his theoretical approach to disability to Samuel Beckett’s novel Murphy (1938).

Professor Quayson contended that any coherent theory of disability had to acknowledge not simply its presence in literature and culture but also the “effect” of that disability in a given society.  Aesthetic nervousness, as Quayson described it, was where representational practices at…

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