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Reading Embodied Citizenship

Disability, Narrative, and the Body Politic

Emily Russell

Publication Year: 2011

Reading Embodied Citizenship brings disability to the forefront, illuminating its role in constituting what counts as U.S. citizenship. Drawing from major figures in American literature, including Mark Twain, Flannery O'Connor, Carson McCullers, and David Foster Wallace, as well as introducing texts from the emerging canon of disability studies, Emily Russell demonstrates the place of disability at the core of American ideals. Russell examines literature to explore and unsettle long-held assumptions about American citizenship.

Published by: Rutgers University Press

Contents

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pp. v-

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Acknowledgments

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pp. vii-viii

It seems only appropriate, in a work about anomalous bodies and their many forms, that I am indebted to a no-less-extraordinary body of colleagues, friends, and family for their support. Even before this project began to take shape, reading the work of Rosemarie Garland-Thomson ...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-22

In the political history of disability in the United States, 1990 serves as a watershed moment. The passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a broad legislative statement laid on the foundation of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, affirmed the rights of disabled Americans in the last of that century’s civil rights laws.1 ...

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1 Domesticating the Exceptional: Those Extraordinary Twins and the Limits of American Individualism

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pp. 23-58

One of the richest moments in Mark Twain’s fiction comes in the opening pages of Pudd’nhead Wilson with the “fatal” half-a-dog joke. On his first day in Dawson’s Landing, David Wilson joins a “group of citizens” and offers the remark that will transform him instantly and for twenty years into a pudd’nhead. ...

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2 “Marvelous and Very Real”: The Grotesque in The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter and Wise Blood

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pp. 59-96

Very early in The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, Carson McCullers offers a scene of domestic discord between Biff Brannon and his wife, Alice. Frustrated with his preferential treatment of an unusual customer, Alice charges, “It’s a disgrace to the business. And besides, he’s nothing but a bum and a freak.” ...

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3 The Uniform Body: Spectacles of Disability and the Vietnam War

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pp. 97-130

In the months leading up to the 2004 presidential election, media cover-age of political life in the United States grappled with the tangle of disability and citizenship in the figure of Max Cleland. The former senator, who lost three limbs in the Vietnam War, took the national stage most emblematically ...

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4 Conceiving the Freakish Body: Reimagining Reproduction in Geek Love and My Year of Meats

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pp. 131-169

In the American political arena, the figure of the child carries special ideological weight. Candidates and special interest groups sell their positions as a promise to America’s children of a better future. As denoted by pop songs and campaign ads, children are synonymous with the future, ...

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5. Some Assembly Required: The Disability Politics of Infinite Jest

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pp. 170-197

Weighing in at over two pounds, David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest cautions by its sheer heft that reading the novel will be an embodied experience. In finding a place to balance its weight or endlessly flipping back to the endnotes, reading the book becomes a curiously physical task. ...

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Conclusion: Inclusion, Fixing, and Legibility

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pp. 198-206

As I hope to have shown throughout these chapters, embodiment is a mutable discursive and material category shaped by the reading practices of a no less dynamic social body. But the contours of these reading practices are themselves shaped by long-standing ideological categories ...

Notes

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pp. 207-226

Bibliography

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pp. 227-242

Index

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pp. 243-253

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About the Author

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Emily Russell is an assistant professor of American literature at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida. Her research interests include twentieth- and twenty-first-century fiction, the multiethnic novel, and theories of ...


E-ISBN-13: 9780813549903
E-ISBN-10: 0813549906
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813549392
Print-ISBN-10: 0813549396

Page Count: 264
Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: The American Literatures Initiative