Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies

Disabling Spectacles: Representations of Trig Palin and Cognitive Disability

Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies (2011), 5, (3), 303–320.

Abstract

The article examines the confounding contribution that Sarah Palin has made to the public discourse on disability in the United States. While she and her son Trig, who has Down syndrome, brought a great deal of attention to issues surrounding cognitive disability from the instant Palin emerged as the Republican Party's 2008 vice-presidential candidate, it is unclear what utility this visibility actually had or has for real disabled individuals. Palin's rhetoric focused exclusively on disabled children and their families, leaving us to imagine that conditions like Down syndrome are temporary afflictions dissipating into normalcy as the afflicted reach adulthood. The article makes use of Lee Edelman's No Future: Queer Theory and the Death Drive to show that the cognitively disabled, like queers, are often figured as having "no future" in both popular culture and national health and education policy.

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Forrest Gump. Dir. Robert Zemeckis. Paramount Pictures, 1994. DVD. Google Scholar

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Palin, Sarah. "Palin's Speech on Children with Special Needs." Transcript. Real Clear Politics. 24 Oct. 2008. Web. 27 Apr. 2010. Google Scholar

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Walberg, Matthew. "Mom, Nurse Acquitted of Felony Neglect in Boy's Death." Chicago Breaking News Center. 20 Jan. 2010. Web. 26 Apr. 2010. Google Scholar

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Author details

Cooley, Reed