Course Description

What counts as a disability? How do ideas of normalcy inflect our discussions of race, class, and gender? This course provides a graduate-level introduction to Disability Studies theories and methods of literary analysis. Because many of our ideas about disability were in the process of being formulated and contested throughout the nineteenth-century, we will take Victorian literature and culture as our case study. Together, we will examine the representation of cognitive and physical difference in a variety of novels, poems and cultural texts ranging from journalism to medical monographs. We will read Disability Studies theory alongside these nineteenth-century texts in order to think about how and why certain bodies and abilities become marginalized. We will study both canonical and non-canonical authors, including Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Henry Mayhew, and Dinah Craik. Disability studies theorists on our syllabus will include Lennard Davis, Martha Stoddard Holmes, and Tobin Siebers.

Texts and Readings

  • Bronte, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. Peterborough, ON: Broadview Press.
  • Craik, Dinah. John Halifax, Gentleman. Peterborough, ON: Broadview Press.
  • Dickens, Charles. Our Mutual Friend. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Eliot, George. The Mill on the Floss. Peterborough, ON: Broadview Press.
  • James, Henry. Daisy Miller. Peterborough, ON: Broadview Press.

*All Broadview press books are available as a discounted course pack at the campus bookstore.

*NB Selected Theoretical and Critical Readings will be linked on the course website.