ALA panel (Boston, May 26-29, 2011) on Disability and Self-Making in 19th-C American Literature

full name / name of organization: 
Jaime Alves, Bard College
contact email: 


American Literature Association
Boston, May 26-29, 2011

Disability and Self-Making in 19th-C American Literature

Inspired by Rosemarie Garland-Thomson's argument that the disabled or
extraordinary figure is "essential to the cultural project of American
self-making," this panel seeks papers that examine representations by or
about the disabled in 19th-Century American literature, and in texts
that deal with the question (or myth) of American self-making. How do
texts featuring disabled figures not only constitute but interrogate the
idea of the self-made person? How do they deny or grant access to
selfhood and self-making for disabled characters or readers? How do they
deny or grant a sense of belonging to a majority or minority culture?
Possible topics include (but are not limited to):

* cultures of self-improvement
* popular fascination with medicine and anatomy
* "ugly laws" and mendicancy
* bodies disabled by war, illness, accidents, childbirth, and the like
* bodies that are born different
* questions of genre, such as the sentimental social protest novel
* questions of rhetoric, in which the relationship between the disabled and the ordinary self is destabilized
* defining "normalcy" or the ordinary in relation to the disabled, extraordinary, or spectacular body

Please send abstract (250-500 words) and brief cv to Jaime Alves
( ) by December 15, 2010.

*and please excuse cross posting :)