Articulating Bodies investigates the contemporaneous developments of Victorian fiction and disability’s medicalization by focusing on the intersection between narrative form and body. The book examines texts from across the century, from Frederic Shoberl’s 1833 English translation of Victor Hugo’s Notre-Dame de Paris to Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes story “The Adventure of the Crooked Man” (1893), covering genres that typically relied upon disabled or diseased characters. By tracing the patterns of focalization and narrative structure across six decades of the nineteenth century and across six genres, Articulating Bodies demonstrates that throughout the Victorian era, authors of fiction used narrative form as well as narrative theme to negotiate how to categorize bodies, both constructing and questioning the boundary dividing normalcy from abnormality. As fiction’s form developed from the massive hybrid novels of the early decades of the nineteenth century to the case-study length of fin-de-siècle mysteries, disability became increasingly medicalized, moving from the position of spectacle to specimen.
Reviews'Illuminating and persuasive, this is a compelling and cohesive study of disability in Victorian fiction.'
Dr Ryan Sweet, University of Plymouth
'The narratological concept of focalization does double-duty as an optical concept [...] and Hingston’s emphasis on the role of perception in determining bodily normativity or deviance is a welcome approach, expanding our conception of disability outwards from solely a discursive category to a broader perceptual and even phenomenological concept, even in a book fundamentally concerned with textuality. The kind of detailed attention to form - not solely as a textual feature but also a bodily one - in which this book engages is exemplary for future studies of disability in a literary critical context.'Natalie Prizel, Victorian Studies