Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies

Reagan, Wounded Heroes, and the Cyborg Soldier in Lois McMaster Bujold’s The Warrior’s Apprentice

Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies (2019), 13, (2), 213–229.

Abstract

The article looks at the representation of disability in Lois McMaster Bujold’s military space opera novel,1 The Warrior’s Apprentice (1986), which features a young disabled protagonist called Miles Vorkosigan. Bujold’s novel and protagonist demand attention. They reflect a particular image of disability masculinity in 1980s American science fiction, which appeared in the guise of the wounded hero transformed into a cyborg soldier. As a cyborg soldier Miles is impaired and repaired by technology reinventing himself as an enigmatic and heroic military leader who rescues men debilitated by a rapidly changing environment. Miles’s cyborg identity is culturally significant because it represents the anxieties, hopes, and fears surrounding men, masculinity, and disability during the Reagan era—a moment in which a president’s own corporeal vulnerability underpinned a wounded hero discourse that advocated the vocational rehabilitation of the American male and the disabled person in order to regenerate an American economy.

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Works Cited

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Altman, Lawrence K. “Parsing Ronald Reagan’s Words for Early Signs of Alzheimer’s.” The New York Times. 30 Mar. 2015. Web. 10 Jul. 2016. Google Scholar

Bacon, Lloyd. Dir. Knute Rockne: All American. Warner Bros, 1940. Film. Google Scholar

Bagenstos, Samuel R. Law and Contradictions of the Disabilility Rights Movement. New Haven and London: Yale UP, 2009. Print. Google Scholar

Bemis, Virginia T. “Barrayars Ugliest Child: Miles Vorkosigan.” Kaleidoscope: International Magazine Of Literature, Fine Arts, And Disability 34 (1997): 20–22. Print. Google Scholar

Berkowitz, Edward D. “A Historical Preface to the Americans with Disabilities Act.” Civil Rights in the United States. Ed. Hugh Davis Graham. Pennsylvania State UP, 1994. 96–119. Print. Google Scholar

Bujold, Lois McMaster. Barrayar. 1991. Cordelia’s Honor. 2nd Edition. New York: Baen Books, 2008. Print. Google Scholar

Bujold, Lois McMaster. The Warrior’s Apprentice. 1986. Young Miles. 3rd Edition. New York: Baen Books, 2008. Print. Google Scholar

Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. 1990. New York: Routledge, 1999. Print. Google Scholar

Canon, Lou. President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1991. Print. Google Scholar

Culler, Jonathan. Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1997. Print. Google Scholar

Davis, Lennard J. “The Disability Paradox: The Ghettoisation of the Visual.” Parallel Lines. Web. 1 Dec. 2017. Google Scholar

Diggins, John Patrick. Ronald Reagan: Fate, Freedom, and the Making of History. New York and London: Norton, 2007. Print. Google Scholar

Haehl, Anne L. “Miles Vorkosigan and the Power of Words: a Study of Lois Mcmasterbujold’s Unlikely Hero.” Extrapolation 37.3 (1996): 224–33. Print. Google Scholar

Halberstam, Judith. The Queer Art of Failure. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 2011. Print. Google Scholar

Haraway, Donna. “A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century.” Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature. 1991. 9th Edition. London: Free Association Books Ltd, 2002. 149–81. Print. Google Scholar

Haraway, Donna. “A Manifesto for Cyborgs: Science, Technology, and Socialist Feminism in the 1980s.” Socialist Review 80 (1985): 65–108. Print. Reprinted in The Postmodern Turn: New Perspectives on Social Theory. Ed. Steve Siedman. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1994. 82–115. Print. Google Scholar

Hartwell, David G. and Kathryn Cramer. “How Shit Became Shinola: Definition and Redefinition of Space Opera.” SFRevu. Aug. (2003). Web. 10 Jul. 2016. Google Scholar

Jeffords, Susan. Hard Bodies. Hollywood Masculinity in the Reagan Era. New Brunswick: Rutgers UP, 1994. Print. Google Scholar

Kafer, Alison. Feminist Queer Crip. Indiana: Indiana UP, 2013. Print. Google Scholar

Lev, Peter. American Films of the 70s: Conflicting Visions. Austin: U of Texas P, 2000. Print. Google Scholar

Levy, Michael M. “An Interview with Lois McMaster Bujold.” Kaleidoscope. International Magazine of Literature, Fine Arts, and Disability 34 (1997): 6–19. Print. Google Scholar

Lucas, George. Dir. Star Wars. 20th Century Fox, 1977. Film. Google Scholar

Lucas, George. Dir. Return of the Jedi. 20th Century Fox, 1983. Film. Google Scholar

Lucas, George. Dir. The Empire Strikes Back. 20th Century Fox, 1980. Film. Google Scholar

McRuer, Robert. “Compulsory Able Bodiedness and Queer/Disabled Existence.” Disability Studies: Enabling the Humanities. Eds. Sharon L. Snyder, Brenda Jo Brueggmann, and Rosmarie Garland Thomson. New York: Modern Language Association of America, 2002. 88–99. Print. Google Scholar

Merchant, Brian. “Fixed in a Flash: The Utopian Future of Health Care, as Seen in Science Fiction.” Motherboard. 17 Jul. 2015. Web. 10 Jul. 2016. Google Scholar

Mitchell, David T. and Snyder, Sharon L. The Biopolitics of Disability: Neoliberalism, Ablenationalism, and Peripheral Embodiment. 2008. Michigan: U of Michigan P, 2015. Print. Google Scholar

Mitchell, David T. Narrative Prosthesis: Disability and the Dependencies of Discourse. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 2011. Print. Google Scholar

Reagan, Ronald. “Inaugural Address. January 20, 1981.” The American Presidency Project. Web. 10 Jul. 2016. Google Scholar

Schalk, Sami. “Reevaluating the Supercrip.” Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies 10.1 (2016): 71–86. Print. Google Scholar

Siebers, Tobin. “Disability in Theory: From Social Constructionism to the New Realism of the Body.” The Disability Studies Reader. 2nd Edition. Ed. Lennard J. Davis. New York: Routledge, 2006. 173–83. Print. Google Scholar

Slotkin, Richard. “Myth and the Production of History.” Ideology and Classic American Literature. Eds. Sacvan Bercovitch and Myra Jehlen. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1986. Print. Google Scholar

Verhoeven, Paul. Dir. Robcop. Orion Pictures. 1987. Film. Google Scholar

Westfahl, Gary. “Space Opera.” The Cambridge Companion To Science Fiction. Eds. Edward James and Farah Mendlesohn. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2003. 197–208. Print. Google Scholar

Williams, Juan. “The President Begins Wearing a Hearing Aid.” The Washington Post. 8 Sept. 1983. Web. 11 Jul. 2016. Google Scholar

Winter, Caroline. “From Ronald Reagan’s Hearing Aid To Cyborg Ears For Baby Boomers.” NewSound Hearing Network. 30 Sept. 2013. Web. 2 Dec. 2017. Google Scholar

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