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Disability Haunting in American Poetics

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Abstract

In medicine and rehabilitation, disability has been exclusively narrated as individual tragedy and deviance from bodily norms. As a result, humanities scholarship has only recently begun to understand disability as a foundational category of social experience, and a matter of symbolic investment. The essay examines the language of haunting used by Robert Pinsky in his analysis of American poetry as constitutive of a uniquely American memory. Poems featured in Pinsky's discussion–namely Abraham Lincoln's "My Childhood Home I See Again" and William Carlos Williams's "To Elsie"–are re-read as relying on unacknowledged representations of disability. The essay designates this spectral presence of disabled people's material circumstances in print and media as disability haunting. A disability studies approach to literary analysis can provide readers, teachers, and critics with the ability to concretize such haunting subject matter. Hence, the essay seeks to make surface a 'poetics' of disability in literary wor...

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... The experience of the disabled subject -the disability perspective -has been ignored, hidden, suppressed, unspoken and unexamined. It shows itself, however, sometimes in its clearest light (ironically), in the shadows of history, in the 'spectral presence' (Snyder and Mitchell 2007: 1) of the narratives of 'the great and the good', and it is visible, in the background, behind the broad shoulders of property and propriety; of all that is deemed worthy, virtuous, beautiful and good. Campbell (2005: 109) argues that we need to think of the history of disability as "always present" (despite its seeming absence) in the ableist talk of normalcy, normalisation and humanness'; in the violence of the silences that make the absent presences concrete. ...
... Here Hall argues, very convincingly, that that the literary works explored problematise Snyder and Mitchell's argument that fictional narratives often seek to 'cur[e] or kill[..] off disabled characters' in an attempt to control their disruptive bodies. 7 With reference to a wide range of examples, Hall shows that the texts in question subvert the trend identified by Snyder and Mitchell. ...
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This Companion contains thirteen new essays from leading international experts on William Carlos Williams, covering his major poetry and prose works - including Paterson, In the American Grain, and the Stecher trilogy. It addresses central issues of recent Williams scholarship and discusses a wide variety of topics: Williams and the visual arts, Williams and medicine, Williams's version of local modernism, Williams and gender, Williams and multiculturalism, and more. Authors examine Williams's relationships with figures such as Ezra Pound, Wallace Stevens, and H. D. and Marianne Moore, and illustrate the importance of his legacy for Allen Ginsberg, Amiri Baraka, Robert Creeley, Robert Lowell, and numerous contemporary poets. Featuring a chronology and an up-to-date bibliography of the writer, The Cambridge Companion to William Carlos Williams is an invaluable guide for students of this influential literary figure.
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The Northeast Indian borderlands, a cultural crossroads between South, Southeast and East Asia, constitute an important post-colonial exception to the narratives of nation, troubling the common perception of India as an ostensibly liberal regime. This book is the first to consider the representations of the effects of political terror and survival in contemporary literature from Northeast India. Fictions from this polyglot region offer alternative representations that show the post-colonial nation-state to engage in acts of aggression that parallel colonial regimes. The militarization of everyday life and the subsequent growth of cultures of impunity has left a lasting impact on ordinary existence in this border zone. Like in the much more widely discussed case of Kashmir, the governance of the Northeast region is not characterized so much by the management of life, the domain of what Michel Foucault calls biopolitics, but rather around the preponderance and distribution of death, what the postcolonial critic Achille Mbembe calls necropolitics. Not surprisingly, along with Mbembe’s theorizations, the influential works of the Italian philosopher, Giorgio Agamben, on ‘bare life’ have provided fruitful pathways to a study of the sovereign politics of death and political terror in this region. The author draws upon the conceptual literature on political terror and sovereign power through a reading of Anglophone fictions alongside Assamese fictional narratives (all published after 1990), but shifts the onus from the ‘why’ of violence to the ‘how’ of lived experience. An original study of contemporary survivalist fictions that explores survival under conditions of civil and military threat, this book is a valuable contribution to the field of contemporary global literature focusing on cartographies of death and sovereign terror and postcolonial literature.
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Article
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On 15 September 2005, the statue Alison Lapper Pregnant by Marc Quinn was unveiled by the Mayor of London, Ken Livingston, at a public ceremony in Trafalgar Square (Figure 1). The work is a portrait of Alison Lapper: naked and pregnant. Lapper, an artist born without arms and with shortened legs due to a congenital disorder, is sculpted in smooth, white marble. The sculpture occupied the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square for eighteen months. It is huge: over three metres tall and thirteen tons in weight.
Article
The medical profession ascribes otherness to people with disabilities through diagnosis and expertism, which sets in motion discursive powers that oversee their exclusion through schooling and beyond. In this paper, I present a narrative pieced together from personal experiences of ducking and weaving the deficit discourse in ‘inclusive’ education, when seeking employment and in day-to-day family interaction as a person with severely impaired vision. This work builds on previous qualitative research I conducted in Queensland, Australia with a group of young people with impaired vision who attended an inclusive secondary school. I frame this discussion using Foucault’s conception of normalising judgement against the hegemony of normalcy, and consider that inclusion for people with disabilities is reminiscent of a haunting. Through this analysis, I demonstrate how my ideology is formed, and how it in turn shapes a research agenda geared toward seeking greater inclusion for young people with disabilities in schools.
Article
The article investigates how artist Alexa Wright and poet Frank Bidart use their artistic mediums to challenge dominant discourses about the body that make abject the bodies and phantom limb experiences of amputees. Using Alexa Wright's portraitures of amputees as a point of entry for understanding Bidart and examining the phantom limb experience, the article first examines how Wright's digital art questions the assumption that the culturally ideal body is the desired body; instead, the subjects in Wright's portraits emphasize the desire for a body that reflects their experiences and mental perceptions. Building on this framework, the article then analyzes how, through the voice of an amputee in "The Arc, " Bidart uses mimicry to make a mockery of dominant medical and cultural discourses that discipline certain bodies and mandate ideas about what is a viable, desirable body. The contention is that Bidart's dramatic monologue and Wright's portraits show bodies discursively constructed and negotiated against the medical model of the body and the hegemony of the illusory, unattainable visual ideal.
Introduction. Ken Kesey. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
  • Fiedler Leslie
Poetry and Modern American Memory
  • Pinsky Robert