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Spectrality, Strangeness and Stigmaphilia: Gothic and Critical Disability Studies

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Publication date18/05/2020
Host publicationThe Routledge Companion to Literature and Disability
EditorsAlice Hall
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781351699686
ISBN (Print)9781138043602
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This chapter discusses the dangers of Gothic in disability representation, but also argue that in some cases, a Gothic mode of representation can be used to effectively indict suffering ensuing from social and environmental maladaptation. Since the eighteenth century, Gothic can at times be understood less as a genre than a mode occupying other literary genres. The trope also sets a false binary between a near-perfect prelapsarian state and an anguished fall after the catalytic event, and leaves no space for considering congenital impairments over acquired. The “stigmaphilia” gained currency in the early years of queer theory, when Michael Warner used the term to describe a defiant embrace of a stigmatised position without acceding to pressures to make that position more conventional, “finding a commonality with those who suffer from stigma, and in this alternative realm to value the very things that the rest of the world despises”.