English 175

Literature and Disability: States of Exception

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Fall 2022 Langan, Celeste
TuTh 12:30-2 Moffitt 145

Book List

Coetzee, J.M.: Slow Man; Haddon, Mark: Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time; Kaminsky, Ilya: Deaf Republic; Keller, Helen: Story of My Life; Kleege, Georgina: Blind Rage; Melville, Herman: Billy Budd, Bartleby, and Other Stories; Oe, Kenzaburo: A Quiet Life; Rankine, Claudia: Don't Let Me Be Lonely

Other Readings and Media

Richard Loncraine, Richard III (1995 film); excerpts from: Douglas C. Baynton, Defectives in the Land:  Immigration in the Age of Eugenics; Jennifer Bartlett et al., eds., Beauty Is a Verb: The New Poetics of Disability; Jonathan Crary, 24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep; Temple Grandin, Thinking in Pictures; Jasbir Puar, The Right to Maim; Susan Schweik, The Ugly Laws: Disability in Public.


From the blind poet to the fat detective to the “twisted” villain, literature often foregrounds bodily difference as an exceptional condition. What are the stakes and effects of literature’s interest in the exception—and in implied or engendered norms?  What correspondences might there between different kinds of the atypical: between “beauty” and “deformity” (Adam calls Eve a “fair defect” in Paradise Lost), poetry and disfluency, over- and under-achievement? To address these and other questions, we’ll read a selection of texts that work at once to represent disability and to "crip" norms of representation.  We’ll also consider disability in relation to disablement: the effects of impaired and impairing environments on the capacity to flourish.

Assignments will include two essays, a group or individual presentation project, and regular, thoughtful discussion posts.  There will be no final exam, but regular attendance and participation are required. This is a core course for the disability studies minor.


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