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Spectrality, Strangeness and Stigmaphilia: Gothic and Critical Disability Studies

Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/Proceedings - With ISBN/ISSNChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

Publication date18/05/2020
Host publicationRoutledge Companion to Literature and Disability
EditorsAlice Hall
Place of PublicationLondon
ISBN (Print)9781138043602
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Representations of disability in Gothic literature have most often been toxic, limiting and corrosive. How, then, might there be a case for resurrecting the term as of potential value in the discourse of critical disability studies? In this chapter, I describe the ongoing dangers of Gothic in disability representation, but also argue that a representational mode preoccupied with suffering and estrangement can be valuable for the ongoing work of critical disability studies. In particular, this representational mode meshes with critical disability studies' interest in recognising the affective complexity of disability experience, complicating the division between disability and impairment, and contemplating the disorienting temporal structures that can characterise experience within un-supportive environments and societies. In some cases, a gothic mode of representation can enable indictments of socially-induced suffering, and can capture the ambivalence and complexity of lived experience - sorrow as well as joy; temporal disorientation as well as triumphal progress. This chapter makes a case for the value of the strange and the spectral.