Abstract

In light of the recent proliferation of disabled characters in popular romance novels, this article examines the implications for disabled sexuality of increased visibility within the popular romance genre. Focusing on a subset of novels with cognitively disabled characters allows us to see how these narratives move to contain and discipline disability, both by literally and figuratively incorporating it into able-bodiedness, and by rehabilitating it via the transformative power of heterosexual romance. In so doing, these narratives make plain the ideological conjunction between heterosexuality and able-bodiedness; moreover, they demonstrate how visibility within such a popular medium functions largely as an adaptive strategy to contain the threat that disabled sexuality represents, and to impose on disabled people the intertwined ideological demands of compulsory heterosexuality and compulsory able-bodiedness. Despite the limitations imposed by these ideologies, both disabled and nondisabled readers often express pleasure at seeing disability represented "realistically" in popular romance; their responses demonstrate how realism can be ideologically coercive, but also suggest a hunger for difference from which disability studies may benefit.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1757-6466
Print ISSN
1757-6458
Pages
pp. 125-141
Launched on MUSE
2012-06-30
Open Access
No
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