Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies

Gothic Access

Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies (2020), 14, (3), 333–351.

Abstract

The article charts gothic fiction’s spatialization of disability by examining two representative entries: Horace Walpole’s foundational novel The Castle of Otranto (1764) and Peter Medak’s film The Changeling (1980). Their different media and historical backgrounds notwithstanding, both texts feature haunted houses where ghosts and nonghosts collaborate in tearing walls, clearing passageways, tracking voices, and lighting up cellars. These accommodations, along with the antiestablishment critiques they advance, remain unanalyzed because gothic studies and disability studies have intersected mainly around paradigms of monstrosity, abjection, and repression. What do we gain, then, by de-psychologizing the gothic, assaying ghosts’ material entanglements instead? This critical gesture reveals crip ghosts Joseph (Changeling) and Alfonso (Otranto) engaged in what the article conceptualizes as “gothic access”: a series of hauntings that help us collapse and reimagine everyday life’s unhaunted—yet inaccessible—built environments.

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Works Cited

13th Floor Haunted House Chicago. 2019. Web. 10 Jan. 2020. Google Scholar

Anolik, Ruth Bienstock, ed. Demons of the Body and Mind: Essays on Disability and Gothic Literature. Jefferson: Macfarland, 2014. Print. Google Scholar

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The Changeling. Dir. Peter Medak. Associated Film Distribution, 1980. Film. Google Scholar

Davison, Carol Margaret. Gothic Literature, 1764-1824. Cardiff: U of Wales P, 2009. Print. Google Scholar

Dixon, Wheeler Winston. “‘It’s All About Relationships’—An Interview with Peter Medak.” Quarterly Review of Film and Video 34.1 (2017): 1-12. Web. 25 Jul. 2019. Google Scholar

Dolmage, Jay. “From Steep Steps to Retrofit to Universal Design, from Collapse to Austerity.” Disability, Space, Architecture: A Reader. Ed. Jos Boys. London: Routledge, 2017. 102-14. Print. Google Scholar

Flint, Christopher. Family Fictions: Narrative and Domestic Relations in Britain, 1688-1798. Stanford: Stanford UP, 1998. Print. Google Scholar

Frolic’s Haunt. 2017. Web. 10 Jan. 2020. Google Scholar

“Fully Accessible Haunted Attraction.” Fox 43. 24 Oct. 2017. Web. 25 Jul. 2019. Google Scholar

Gamer, Michael. Romanticism and the Gothic: Genre, Reception, and Canon Formation. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2000. Print. Google Scholar

Garland-Thomson, Rosemarie. “Misfits.” Hypatia 26.3 (2011): 591-609. Print. Google Scholar

Gregory, Alan, ed. Disabled Gothic Bodies. Special issue of Studies in Gothic Fiction 6.1 (2018): 4-72. Web. 25 Jul. 2019. Google Scholar

Hamraie, Aimi. Building Access: Universal Design and the Politics of Disability. Minneapolis: Minnesota UP, 2017. Print. Google Scholar

Hauntings of Boogeyman. 2019. Web. 10 Jan. 2020. Google Scholar

Holland, Norman N. and Leona F. Sherman. “Gothic Possibilities.” New Literary History 8.2 (1977): 279-94. Print. Google Scholar

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Lifchez, Raymond. Rethinking Architecture: Design Students and Physically Disabled People. Berkeley: U of California P, 1987. Print. Google Scholar

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Nielsen, Kim E. A Disability History of the United States. Boston: Beacon, 2012. Print. Google Scholar

Porter, Roy and George Sebastian Rousseau. Gout: The Patrician Malady. New Haven: Yale UP, 2000. Print. Google Scholar

Price, Margaret. “The BodyMind Problem and the Possibilities of Pain.” Hypatia 30.1 (2014): 268-84. Web. 25 Jul. 2019. Google Scholar

Price, Margaret. “Un/Shared Space.” Disability, Space, Architecture: A Reader. Ed. Jos Boys. London: Routledge, 2017. 155-72. Google Scholar

Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky. The Coherence of Gothic Conventions. North Stratford: Ayer, 1999. Print. Google Scholar

Shapiro, Joseph P. No Pity: People with Disabilities Forging a New Civil Rights Movement. New York: Three Rivers, 1993. Print. Google Scholar

Silver, Sean R. “Visiting Strawberry Hill: Horace Walpole’s Gothic Historiography.” Eighteenth-Century Fiction 21.4 (2009): 535-64. Print. Google Scholar

Southern Tier Independent Center. 2015. Web. 10 Jan. 2020. Google Scholar

Titchkosky, Tanya. The Question of Access: Disability, Space, Meaning. Toronto: U of Toronto P, 2011. Print. Google Scholar

Viseltear, Arthur J. “The Last Illnesses of Robert and Horace Walpole.” The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine 56.2 (1983): 131-52. Web. 25 Jul. 2019. Google Scholar

Walpole, Horace. An Account of the Giants Lately Discovered; in a Letter to a Friend in the Country. London: F. Noble, 1766. Print. Google Scholar

Walpole, Horace. The Castle of Otranto. London: Oxford UP, 2014. Print. Google Scholar

Walpole, Horace. The Letters of Horace Walpole. Vol. 3. Philadelphia: Lea and Blanchard, 1842. Web. 25 Jul. 2019. Google Scholar

Williamson, Bess. Accessible America: A History of Disability and Design. New York: New York UP, 2019. Print. Google Scholar

13th Floor Haunted House Chicago. 2019. Web. 10 Jan. 2020. Google Scholar

Anolik, Ruth Bienstock, ed. Demons of the Body and Mind: Essays on Disability and Gothic Literature. Jefferson: Macfarland, 2014. Print. Google Scholar

Baird, Robert. “The Startle Effect: Implications for Spectator Cognition and Media Theory.” Film Quarterly 53.3 (2000): 12-24. Print. Google Scholar

Barad, Karen. Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning. Durham: Duke UP, 2007. Print. Google Scholar

Beck Mountain Corn Maze. 2018. Web. 10 Jan. 2020. Google Scholar

Bérubé, Michael. The Secret Life of Stories: From Don Quixote to Harry Potter, How Understanding Intellectual Disability Transforms the Way We Read. New York: New York UP, 2016. Print. Google Scholar

Campbell, Jill. “‘I Am No Giant’: Horace Walpole, Heterosexual Incest, and Love among Men.” The Eighteenth Century 39.3 (1998): 238-60. Print. Google Scholar

The Changeling. Dir. Peter Medak. Associated Film Distribution, 1980. Film. Google Scholar

Davison, Carol Margaret. Gothic Literature, 1764-1824. Cardiff: U of Wales P, 2009. Print. Google Scholar

Dixon, Wheeler Winston. “‘It’s All About Relationships’—An Interview with Peter Medak.” Quarterly Review of Film and Video 34.1 (2017): 1-12. Web. 25 Jul. 2019. Google Scholar

Dolmage, Jay. “From Steep Steps to Retrofit to Universal Design, from Collapse to Austerity.” Disability, Space, Architecture: A Reader. Ed. Jos Boys. London: Routledge, 2017. 102-14. Print. Google Scholar

Flint, Christopher. Family Fictions: Narrative and Domestic Relations in Britain, 1688-1798. Stanford: Stanford UP, 1998. Print. Google Scholar

Frolic’s Haunt. 2017. Web. 10 Jan. 2020. Google Scholar

“Fully Accessible Haunted Attraction.” Fox 43. 24 Oct. 2017. Web. 25 Jul. 2019. Google Scholar

Gamer, Michael. Romanticism and the Gothic: Genre, Reception, and Canon Formation. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2000. Print. Google Scholar

Garland-Thomson, Rosemarie. “Misfits.” Hypatia 26.3 (2011): 591-609. Print. Google Scholar

Gregory, Alan, ed. Disabled Gothic Bodies. Special issue of Studies in Gothic Fiction 6.1 (2018): 4-72. Web. 25 Jul. 2019. Google Scholar

Hamraie, Aimi. Building Access: Universal Design and the Politics of Disability. Minneapolis: Minnesota UP, 2017. Print. Google Scholar

Hauntings of Boogeyman. 2019. Web. 10 Jan. 2020. Google Scholar

Holland, Norman N. and Leona F. Sherman. “Gothic Possibilities.” New Literary History 8.2 (1977): 279-94. Print. Google Scholar

Horace. The Works of Horace. Trans. James Lonsdale and Samuel Lee. London: Macmillan, 1923. Print. Google Scholar

Hugo, Victor. Notre-Dame de Paris. Trans. John Sturrock. New York: Penguin, 1978. Print. Google Scholar

The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. Dir. William Dieterle. RKO, 1939. Film. Google Scholar

Imrie, Rob. “Disability, Embodiment and the Meaning of Home.” Towards Enabling Geographies: ‘Disabled’ Bodies and Minds in Society and Space. Ed. Vera Chouinard, Edward Hall, and Robert Wilton. London: Routledge, 2010. Print. Google Scholar

Jameson, Fredric. Valences of the Dialectic. New York: Verso, 2009. Print. Google Scholar

Joshua, Essaka. “The Drifting Language of Architectural Accessibility in Victor Hugo’s Notre-Dame de Paris.” Disability Studies Quarterly 31.3 (2011). Web. 25 Jul. 2019. Google Scholar

King, Stephen. Danse Macabre. New York: Berkley Books, 1981. Print. Google Scholar

Lifchez, Raymond. Rethinking Architecture: Design Students and Physically Disabled People. Berkeley: U of California P, 1987. Print. Google Scholar

Longueil, Alfred E. “The Word ‘Gothic’ in Eighteenth-Century Criticism.” Modern Language Notes 38.8 (1923): 453-60. Print. Google Scholar

Miller, Kathleen A. “The Mysteries of the In-Between: Re-reading Disability in E. Nesbit’s Late Victorian Gothic Fiction.” Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies 6.2 (2012): 143-57. Print. Google Scholar

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

Mitchell, David T., Susan Antebi, and Sharon L. Snyder. “Introduction.” The Matter of Disability: Materiality, Biopolitics, Crip Affect. Ed. David T. Mitchell, Susan Antebi, and Sharon L. Snyder. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 2019. 1-38. Print. Google Scholar

Nielsen, Kim E. A Disability History of the United States. Boston: Beacon, 2012. Print. Google Scholar

Porter, Roy and George Sebastian Rousseau. Gout: The Patrician Malady. New Haven: Yale UP, 2000. Print. Google Scholar

Price, Margaret. “The BodyMind Problem and the Possibilities of Pain.” Hypatia 30.1 (2014): 268-84. Web. 25 Jul. 2019. Google Scholar

Price, Margaret. “Un/Shared Space.” Disability, Space, Architecture: A Reader. Ed. Jos Boys. London: Routledge, 2017. 155-72. Google Scholar

Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky. The Coherence of Gothic Conventions. North Stratford: Ayer, 1999. Print. Google Scholar

Shapiro, Joseph P. No Pity: People with Disabilities Forging a New Civil Rights Movement. New York: Three Rivers, 1993. Print. Google Scholar

Silver, Sean R. “Visiting Strawberry Hill: Horace Walpole’s Gothic Historiography.” Eighteenth-Century Fiction 21.4 (2009): 535-64. Print. Google Scholar

Southern Tier Independent Center. 2015. Web. 10 Jan. 2020. Google Scholar

Titchkosky, Tanya. The Question of Access: Disability, Space, Meaning. Toronto: U of Toronto P, 2011. Print. Google Scholar

Viseltear, Arthur J. “The Last Illnesses of Robert and Horace Walpole.” The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine 56.2 (1983): 131-52. Web. 25 Jul. 2019. Google Scholar

Walpole, Horace. An Account of the Giants Lately Discovered; in a Letter to a Friend in the Country. London: F. Noble, 1766. Print. Google Scholar

Walpole, Horace. The Castle of Otranto. London: Oxford UP, 2014. Print. Google Scholar

Walpole, Horace. The Letters of Horace Walpole. Vol. 3. Philadelphia: Lea and Blanchard, 1842. Web. 25 Jul. 2019. Google Scholar

Williamson, Bess. Accessible America: A History of Disability and Design. New York: New York UP, 2019. Print. Google Scholar

13th Floor Haunted House Chicago. 2019. Web. 10 Jan. 2020. Google Scholar

Anolik, Ruth Bienstock, ed. Demons of the Body and Mind: Essays on Disability and Gothic Literature. Jefferson: Macfarland, 2014. Print. Google Scholar

Baird, Robert. “The Startle Effect: Implications for Spectator Cognition and Media Theory.” Film Quarterly 53.3 (2000): 12-24. Print. Google Scholar

Barad, Karen. Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning. Durham: Duke UP, 2007. Print. Google Scholar

Beck Mountain Corn Maze. 2018. Web. 10 Jan. 2020. Google Scholar

Bérubé, Michael. The Secret Life of Stories: From Don Quixote to Harry Potter, How Understanding Intellectual Disability Transforms the Way We Read. New York: New York UP, 2016. Print. Google Scholar

Campbell, Jill. “‘I Am No Giant’: Horace Walpole, Heterosexual Incest, and Love among Men.” The Eighteenth Century 39.3 (1998): 238-60. Print. Google Scholar

The Changeling. Dir. Peter Medak. Associated Film Distribution, 1980. Film. Google Scholar

Davison, Carol Margaret. Gothic Literature, 1764-1824. Cardiff: U of Wales P, 2009. Print. Google Scholar

Dixon, Wheeler Winston. “‘It’s All About Relationships’—An Interview with Peter Medak.” Quarterly Review of Film and Video 34.1 (2017): 1-12. Web. 25 Jul. 2019. Google Scholar

Dolmage, Jay. “From Steep Steps to Retrofit to Universal Design, from Collapse to Austerity.” Disability, Space, Architecture: A Reader. Ed. Jos Boys. London: Routledge, 2017. 102-14. Print. Google Scholar

Flint, Christopher. Family Fictions: Narrative and Domestic Relations in Britain, 1688-1798. Stanford: Stanford UP, 1998. Print. Google Scholar

Frolic’s Haunt. 2017. Web. 10 Jan. 2020. Google Scholar

“Fully Accessible Haunted Attraction.” Fox 43. 24 Oct. 2017. Web. 25 Jul. 2019. Google Scholar

Gamer, Michael. Romanticism and the Gothic: Genre, Reception, and Canon Formation. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2000. Print. Google Scholar

Garland-Thomson, Rosemarie. “Misfits.” Hypatia 26.3 (2011): 591-609. Print. Google Scholar

Gregory, Alan, ed. Disabled Gothic Bodies. Special issue of Studies in Gothic Fiction 6.1 (2018): 4-72. Web. 25 Jul. 2019. Google Scholar

Hamraie, Aimi. Building Access: Universal Design and the Politics of Disability. Minneapolis: Minnesota UP, 2017. Print. Google Scholar

Hauntings of Boogeyman. 2019. Web. 10 Jan. 2020. Google Scholar

Holland, Norman N. and Leona F. Sherman. “Gothic Possibilities.” New Literary History 8.2 (1977): 279-94. Print. Google Scholar

Horace. The Works of Horace. Trans. James Lonsdale and Samuel Lee. London: Macmillan, 1923. Print. Google Scholar

Hugo, Victor. Notre-Dame de Paris. Trans. John Sturrock. New York: Penguin, 1978. Print. Google Scholar

The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. Dir. William Dieterle. RKO, 1939. Film. Google Scholar

Imrie, Rob. “Disability, Embodiment and the Meaning of Home.” Towards Enabling Geographies: ‘Disabled’ Bodies and Minds in Society and Space. Ed. Vera Chouinard, Edward Hall, and Robert Wilton. London: Routledge, 2010. Print. Google Scholar

Jameson, Fredric. Valences of the Dialectic. New York: Verso, 2009. Print. Google Scholar

Joshua, Essaka. “The Drifting Language of Architectural Accessibility in Victor Hugo’s Notre-Dame de Paris.” Disability Studies Quarterly 31.3 (2011). Web. 25 Jul. 2019. Google Scholar

King, Stephen. Danse Macabre. New York: Berkley Books, 1981. Print. Google Scholar

Lifchez, Raymond. Rethinking Architecture: Design Students and Physically Disabled People. Berkeley: U of California P, 1987. Print. Google Scholar

Longueil, Alfred E. “The Word ‘Gothic’ in Eighteenth-Century Criticism.” Modern Language Notes 38.8 (1923): 453-60. Print. Google Scholar

Miller, Kathleen A. “The Mysteries of the In-Between: Re-reading Disability in E. Nesbit’s Late Victorian Gothic Fiction.” Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies 6.2 (2012): 143-57. Print. Google Scholar

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

Mitchell, David T., Susan Antebi, and Sharon L. Snyder. “Introduction.” The Matter of Disability: Materiality, Biopolitics, Crip Affect. Ed. David T. Mitchell, Susan Antebi, and Sharon L. Snyder. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 2019. 1-38. Print. Google Scholar

Nielsen, Kim E. A Disability History of the United States. Boston: Beacon, 2012. Print. Google Scholar

Porter, Roy and George Sebastian Rousseau. Gout: The Patrician Malady. New Haven: Yale UP, 2000. Print. Google Scholar

Price, Margaret. “The BodyMind Problem and the Possibilities of Pain.” Hypatia 30.1 (2014): 268-84. Web. 25 Jul. 2019. Google Scholar

Price, Margaret. “Un/Shared Space.” Disability, Space, Architecture: A Reader. Ed. Jos Boys. London: Routledge, 2017. 155-72. Google Scholar

Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky. The Coherence of Gothic Conventions. North Stratford: Ayer, 1999. Print. Google Scholar

Shapiro, Joseph P. No Pity: People with Disabilities Forging a New Civil Rights Movement. New York: Three Rivers, 1993. Print. Google Scholar

Silver, Sean R. “Visiting Strawberry Hill: Horace Walpole’s Gothic Historiography.” Eighteenth-Century Fiction 21.4 (2009): 535-64. Print. Google Scholar

Southern Tier Independent Center. 2015. Web. 10 Jan. 2020. Google Scholar

Titchkosky, Tanya. The Question of Access: Disability, Space, Meaning. Toronto: U of Toronto P, 2011. Print. Google Scholar

Viseltear, Arthur J. “The Last Illnesses of Robert and Horace Walpole.” The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine 56.2 (1983): 131-52. Web. 25 Jul. 2019. Google Scholar

Walpole, Horace. An Account of the Giants Lately Discovered; in a Letter to a Friend in the Country. London: F. Noble, 1766. Print. Google Scholar

Walpole, Horace. The Castle of Otranto. London: Oxford UP, 2014. Print. Google Scholar

Walpole, Horace. The Letters of Horace Walpole. Vol. 3. Philadelphia: Lea and Blanchard, 1842. Web. 25 Jul. 2019. Google Scholar

Williamson, Bess. Accessible America: A History of Disability and Design. New York: New York UP, 2019. Print. Google Scholar

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Author details

Herrero-Puertas, Manuel