Posts Tagged Disability Studies

Representing Disability In American Fiction (NEMLA 2016 Call for Papers)

Disability Studies provides a shining example of how interdisciplinary scholarship at its best might operate. Yet within literary studies this mode of analysis still struggles to gain pride of place. One reason for this is the fear of disability. Unlike most forms of identity, the markers of disability (a loss of bodily and/or mental integrity) are permeable and someday might be applied to any person. Additionally, able-bodied members of society are unsure how to interact with the disabled in a way that will not cause offense. Both of these fears help marginalize what otherwise would be a valuable tool for analyzing creative expression. This session will explore how these fears of disability are represented in American fiction across time periods, genres, and media. Papers are sought that cover topics such as the “gaze” of the able bodied upon the disabled, representations of disability as “monstrous” or “grotesque,” projections of societal anxieties upon the bodies of disabled persons, disabled figures at the margins of stories not commonly seen as addressing the topic of disability, and analysis of narrative forms used to discuss the concept of disability. Other topics will also be considered provided they address issues of representing disability in American fiction.

Please submit an abstract for your paper (250-300 words) as well as a brief bio at:

Deadline for submissions is September 30.

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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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