Monstrous Kinds: Body, Space, and Narrative in Renaissance Representations of Disability

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University of Michigan Press, Jan 4, 2019 - Literary Criticism - 284 pages
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Monstrous Kinds is the first book to explore textual representations of disability in the global Renaissance. Elizabeth B. Bearden contends that monstrosity, as a precursor to modern concepts of disability, has much to teach about our tendency to inscribe disability with meaning. Understanding how early modern writers approached disability not only provides more accurate genealogies of disability, but also helps nuance current aesthetic and theoretical disability formulations.

The book analyzes the cultural valences of early modern disability across a broad national and chronological span, attending to the specific bodily, spatial, and aesthetic systems that contributed to early modern literary representations of disability. The cross section of texts (including conduct books and treatises, travel writing and wonder books) is comparative, putting canonical European authors such as Castiglione into dialogue with transatlantic and Anglo-Ottoman literary exchange. Bearden questions grand narratives that convey a progression of disability from supernatural marvel to medical specimen, suggesting that, instead, these categories coexist and intersect.
 

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Contents

Introduction
1
Disability Courtliness and Civilizing Body Talk
33
John Bulwer Disability and Natural Signing in England and Beyond
79
Geographies of Disability in Mexica and European Courts
109
Global Disability in European Travel Accounts of the Ottoman Court
141
Conjoined Twins and Monstrous Narration in the Wonder Book
179
Coda
229
Works Cited
235
Index of Names
257
General Index
261
Copyright

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About the author (2019)

Elizabeth B. Bearden is Professor of English, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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