Abstract

ABSTRACT:

This essay argues that Frank Bidart’s “Ellen West” utilizes a case history of an early twentieth-century genderqueer Jewish woman with anorexia to indict the clinical establishment and its complicity in protecting certain bodies while disavowing others. An analysis of the clinic’s reliance on gender and racial givens and the complex ways the title speaker struggles to both submit to and defy such givens suggests her death represents the disavowal of a racialized, gender-variant body.

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