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The modern concept of disability did not exist in the Romantic period. This study addresses the anachronistic use of 'disability' in scholarship of the Romantic era, providing a disability studies theorized account that explores the relationship between ideas of function and aesthetics. Unpacking the politics of ability, the book reveals the centrality of capacity and weakness concepts to the egalitarian politics of the 1790s, and the importance of desert theory to debates about sentiment and the charitable relief of impaired soldiers. Clarifying the aesthetics of deformity as distinct from discussions of ability, Joshua uncovers a controversy over the use of deformity in picturesque aesthetics, offers accounts of deformity that anticipate recent disability studies theory, and discusses deformity and monstrosity as a blended category in Frankenstein. Setting aside the modern concept of disability, Joshua cogently argues for the historical and critical value of period-specific terms.Read more
- Provides an overview of scholarship in the field of critical disability studies; and an overview of literary criticism on disability, making a disability studies approach accessible to Romanticists
- Uses a series of case studies of single authors, groups of writers, and single texts allowing readers insight into how a disability studies reading might work in a range of contexts
- Eschews anachronistic terminology and concepts, providing new period-appropriate terminology for 'disability' and period-appropriate concepts of disability
Reviews & endorsements
‘Joshua uses writing about disability and disability theory to bring a new perspective to her analysis of these texts. As a result, this is an important contribution to literary criticism of the Romantic era. There is a larger historical significance too in her careful reading of the nuance of language and the evolution of terminology we use in our discussions of disability history.’ Rosamund Oates, H-DisabilitySee more reviews
‘Joshua’s book demonstrates the need for scholars studying topics as wide-ranging as Jacobin politics and novels, proto-feminist writing, the Romantic encounter poem, aesthetics, the marriage plot, and the gothic to develop and account for historically speciﬁc concepts of pre-disability.’ Corey Goergen, The Wordsworth Circle
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- Date Published: November 2020
- format: Hardback
- isbn: 9781108836708
- length: 250 pages
- dimensions: 240 x 160 x 25 mm
- weight: 0.62kg
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
Part I. Politics of Ability:
1. William Godwin and capacity
2. Invigorating women: female weakness in the work of Mary Wollstonecraft
3. Wordsworth's 'The Discharged Soldier' and the question of desert
Part II. Aesthetics of Deformity:
4. Picturesque aesthetics: theorizing deformity in the Romantic era
5. Relational deformity in Frances Burney's Camilla
6. Monstrous sights: Mary Shelley's Frankenstein .
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