Seminar Report: Literary, Cultural, & Disability Studies: A Tripartite Approach to Postcolonialism

By Cheyne, Ria | Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies, May 1, 2010 | Go to article overview

Seminar Report: Literary, Cultural, & Disability Studies: A Tripartite Approach to Postcolonialism


Cheyne, Ria, Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies


Held at Lancaster University's Centre for Disability Research (CeDR) in June 2009, this seminar was the first of a summer series designed to foster in-depth exploration of topics within Cultural Disability Studies and promote dialogue with other areas of research.1 A Tripartite Approach to Postcolonialism began with a keynote presentation by Dr. Clare Barker (University of Birmingham) and Prof. Stuart Murray (University of Leeds), guest editors of the forthcoming special issue of JLCDS on postcolonialism. Their presentation, "Postcolonial Literatures and the Materiality of Disability," offered a survey of the relationship between postcolonial scholarship and Disability Studies, while also making a series of critical interventions. In particular, the speakers stressed the need for a close engagement with the local conditions of production of the text, arguing that the "transcultural applicability" of key theories and concepts from Cultural Disability Studies cannot be assumed. For example, they suggested that David T. Mitchell and Sharon L. Snyder's seminal concept of narrative prosthesis- developed in Narrative Prosthesis: Disability and the Dependencies of Discourse (2000)-invites analysis focusing on the metaphorical meaning of the individual character, neglecting the idea of community central to many postcolonial narratives. The speakers also argued that issues of care and cure may function very differently in postcolonial texts.

Offering brief readings of works from a range of postcolonial contexts (including texts by Salman Rushdie, Ben Okri, Sahar Khalifeh, Ngugi wa Thiong'o, and Patricia Grace), "Postcolonial Literatures and the Materiality of Disability" made a compelling case for the contribution Disability Studies can make to postcolonial scholarship, and vice-versa. As with the best work in Cultural Disability Studies, this presentation actively sought to advance our understanding of not one but two fields. Drawing on but not requiring familiarity with previous work by both speakers-particularly the notion of "autistic presence" and the argument that a shift in reading strategies is required when engaging with postcolonial texts2-their presentation successfully balanced conceptual sophistication with accessibility for those less familiar with postcolonial studies.

Sparking the most discussion during the post-presentation question session was the issue of metaphor. Among the points raised were whether there is a difference between metaphor and metaphorization, and the need to ask what a character communicates about disability before the level of metaphor. In fact, while postcolonial texts may make the issue of metaphor a particularly pressing one, metaphor has been keenly discussed at various recent events, suggesting that, in UK Cultural Disability Studies at least, it is a hot topic. This was illustrated in the next presentation, "Shifting Perspective, Heightening Awareness: Weaving Dialogues Between Postcolonial Theory and Disability Studies" by Ana B. Pereira, a postgraduate student at Lancaster University. Her paper drew out parallels between postcolonial theories and Disability Studies, before offering an in-depth reading of a classic text in postcolonial theory, Frantz Fanon's "The Fact of Blackness" (included in the 1952 collection Black Skin, White Masks). Noting the extent to which imagery of the impaired body is used in Fanon's essay-in terms reminiscent of, though without reference to, Mitchell and Snyder's writing on disability as "the master trope of human disqualification" (3)- she stressed the importance of bearing in mind "the existence of interlocking systems of oppression."

In the same panel, Beatriz Miranda-Galarza of the University of Leeds presented a paper examining the relationship of disability to postcolonial issues from a Latin American perspective. Drawing upon both fieldwork and personal experience, "'Between a will to write and a body to be written': Disability, history and things that the West forgot to say" was an invitation to rethink the western historical and theoretical account of disability that, she argued, has "disabled" the contribution of those from other milieus. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Seminar Report: Literary, Cultural, & Disability Studies: A Tripartite Approach to Postcolonialism
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.