CFP: [Cultural-Historical] Disabled Body in 19th Century

full name / name of organization: 
Thomas Jordan
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1st Annual Graduate Conference of the American Studies and Victorian
Studies Associations
Binghamton University
Binghamton, New York November 7-8, 2008
Keynote Speaker: Leonard Tennenhouse, Brown University

Panel: The Disabled Body in 19th Century Transatlantic Literatures

Lennard Davis writes in his seminal disability studies work Enforcing
Normalcy: Disability, Deafness, and the Body, “What I have tried to show…is
that the very term that permeates our contemporary lifeâ€"the normalâ€"is a
configuration that arises in a particular historical moment. It is part of
a notion of progress, of industrialization, and of ideological
consolidation of the power of the bourgeoisie.” Davis argues compellingly
that “normalcy” is a construction of the mid-19th century that is heavily
tied to the rise in statistical analysis and the application of that
analysis to the field of eugenics. While eugenicists believed that
variations within the population were integral and at times threatening to
the establishment of a cohesive national identity, the disabled body
problematized the desire for a national image that was powerful,
productive, progress-oriented, and above all else, able-bodied. This panel
seeks papers that engage the topics of disability and normalcy within the
literatures of 19th century Europe and America from a variety of different
perspectives. In particular, how does disability haunt the national
self-images of England and America in 19th century literature? How do the
differing socio-political contexts and national narratives of America and
England produce unique discourses of disability and/or normalcy? How do
the literary genres of Victorian Realism, American Romanticism, and
American Naturalism reproduce and/or challenge hegemonic constructions of

Abstracts should be between 250-500 words, and submitted no later than
August 15, 2008 to

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Received on Thu May 01 2008 - 15:06:20 EDT