The article critiques the biologization of intellectual disability as speciesist pathology using as case studies William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury and a headline about a post-natal blood test. Following Ellen Samuels’s work on “fantasies of identification,” and aiming to bridge animal studies and disability studies, it settles into a sustained examination of how Benjy Compson, a canonical idiot figure, has perpetuated a hermeneutic of hemophobia (i.e., an anxiety about blood) and zoophobia (i.e., an anxiety about species). In response, a new approach to Benjy is proposed: reading for the tropological confusion of idiocy and caninity. This approach unlocks a subtext in Faulkner’s novel, which destabilizes the social script responsible for diagnosing Benjy’s idiocy as a consequence of “bad blood”—a eugenics-inflected script that extends to today’s technologies of biological identification.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 287-304
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.