CFP: [Victorian] Jane Eyre and Disability

full name / name of organization: 
Julia Miele Rodas
contact email: 

The Madwoman and the Blindman: Jane Eyre and Disability
Edited by David Bolt, Julia Miele Rodas, and Elizabeth J. Donaldson

This book is the first to examine Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre from a
disability studies approach. Offering an appreciation and analysis of the
ways in which disability, disfigurement, mental illness, cognitive
alterity, addiction, and related ideas figure in this classic text, the aim
of The Madwoman and the Blindman is to collect substantial essays by
literary and cultural scholars to contribute to the growing discipline of
disability studies. In order to achieve this aim, the proposed book will
draw on theory and criticism in literary, cultural, gender, Victorian,
film, and disability studies, bringing together essays that offer fresh
insights into Brontë’s classic nineteenth-century novel.

Rationale. With an undisputed place in the English literary canon and as an
established landmark of feminist literature, Jane Eyre has garnered the
attention of literary critics and of cultural and political theorists for
generations. The discourse initiated, or at least perpetuated by Gilbert
and Gubar’s The Madwoman in the Attic has considered gender, ethnicity, and
class extensively, but this taxonomy is deficient without the inclusion of
disability, a cultural and political identity of increasing stature.
Although few novels have received the same intense critical attention as
Jane Eyre, until now, no single volume has focused on analyzing and
theorizing the role of disability. In fact, the most visible aspects of
disability have traditionally been understood in rather transparent
symbolic terms: the blindness of Rochester and the “madness” of Bertha
apparently standing in for other aspects of identity. But now that recent
scholarly interest in the representation of disability has led to a richer
and more complex framework for understanding disability in literature, as
well as creating new political, social, and aesthetic inroads into the
appreciation of fiction, it has become necessary to fill this gap in Brontë
scholarship. For the first time, a scholarly book on Brontë’s Jane Eyre
invites readers to investigate the text through the lens of disability,
providing a critical appreciation of the ways in which disability is
depicted in the novel.

Prospective authors should send a proposal (500-700 words) and a
biographical note to the editors on or before 1 January, 2009. Selected
authors will be required to submit completed essays on or before 1 January,
2010. Editors: David Bolt (; Julia Miele Rodas
(; and Elizabeth J. Donaldson (

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Received on Thu Nov 20 2008 - 11:17:52 EST