Disability, Literature, Genre

BookOpen AccessDisability, Literature, Genre

Disability, Literature, Genre

Representation and Affect in Contemporary Fiction

Representations: Health, Disability, Culture and Society, 9


December 6th, 2019


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An Open Access edition of this book is available on the Liverpool University Press website and through Knowledge Unlatched.
Examining the intersection of disability and genre in popular works of horror, crime, science fiction, fantasy, and romance published since the late 1960s, Disability, Literature, Genre is a major contribution to both cultural disability studies and genre fiction studies. Drawing on recent work on affect and emotion, the book explores how disability makes us feel, and how those feelings shape interpersonal and fictional encounters. Written in a clear and accessible style, Disability, Literature, Genre offers a timely reflection on the rapidly growing body of scholarship on disability representation, as well as an innovative new theorisation of genre. By reconceptualising genre reading as an affective process, Ria Cheyne establishes genre fiction as a key site of investigation for disability studies. She argues that genre fiction’s unique combination of affectivity and reflexivity makes it ideally suited to the production of reflexive representations of disability: representations which encourage the reader to reflect upon what they understand about disability, and potentially to rethink it. Examining the affective—and effective—power of disability representations in a wide range of popular genre fiction, this book will be essential reading for academics in disability studies, literary studies, popular culture studies, and the medical humanities.

'A nuanced, interdisciplinary academic text that will be of interest to many readers who engage in discussions about emotional life, while seeking out rigorous and thoughtful literary resources... Using generous, precise while flexible readings of the selected genre-specific texts, Cheyne’s book expertly and insistently melds affect theory and cultural disability studies, thus broadening each scholarly locus in impressive ways, while breaking down proverbial silos.'
Diane R. Wiener, Wordgathering

Author Information

Ria Cheyne is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Disability and Education at Liverpool Hope University.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
Introduction: Affective Encounters and Reflexive Representations11
Affect and the Disability Encounter18
Disability Studies, Emotion, and Exploitation23
Genre Fiction and Reflexive Representations27
1. Horror: Fearful Bodyminds37
Why Disability Studies is Afraid of Horror40
Why Horror Scholars are Afraid of Disability43
Stephen King’s Duma Key45
Monstrous Uncertainty: Thomas Harris’s Hannibal Lecter Novels50
Conclusion: Disturbing Representations60
2. Character and Closure: Disability in Crime63
Disabled Detectives66
Affect and Achievement in Jeffery Deaver’s Lincoln Rhyme Novels67
Investigating Critical Practices: The Detective and the Supercrip72
Unreflexive Representations: Peter Robinson’s Friend of the Devil75
Disabled Villains79
Ambiguous Identities and Fantasies of Identification82
Conclusion: Disability and the Altar of Closure88
3. Wondrous Texts: Science Fiction91
Disability and Wonder92
Science Fiction and Wonder97
Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga103
Affective Uncertainty: Peter Watts’s Rifters Trilogy108
4. Fantasy: Affirmation and Enchantment119
Disability in Fantasy123
Metanarratives and the Mega-Novel: George R.R. Martin’s ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’125
Grimdark and Disability: Joe Abercrombie’s ‘The First Law’134
5. Desirable Futures: Romance145
Undesirable Futures149
Romance, Cure, and the Curative Imaginary152
Affective Imaginings and Reflexive Representations: Mary Balogh’s ‘Simply’ Quartet162
Conclusion: Feeling Disability169
Conclusion: Reading and Feeling171
Genre Reading as Affective Practice173
Valuing Genre(s)176
Evaluative Approaches and Methodological Imperatives179
Works Cited183
Disability in Genre Fiction: An Annotated Bibliography197