Disability in Literature: A Girardian Perspective
Dr. Curtis Gruenler, English
This project embodies the culmination of the 2016 summer research I conducted at Hope College regarding the intersection of Disabilities Studies, Mimetic Theory, and Young Adult Fiction. This research utilizes a corpus of five recent novels: Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (2003), Francisco X. Stork’s Marcelo and the Real World (2009), Jennifer Roy’s Mindblind (2010), Vicky Martin’s M is for Autism (2015), and Aaron Cully Drake’s Do you think this is strange? (2015). Each work includes a narrator on the autism spectrum, has achieved success in the public sphere over the last 15 years, and falls under the umbrella of Young Adult or crossover fiction. My research uses these examples to assert that the increase of first-person narrators with intellectual disabilities has functioned to give a voice to this marginalized population. By applying Mimetic Theory, one better understands the inner-workings of the scapegoating and bullying that people with disabilities face. The mimetic concept of identifying with the victim then opens up a dialogue about the social constructions, medical symptoms, and misconceptions that work together to disable individuals with intellectual disabilities. Finally, the research’s study of conscious and unconscious forms of mimesis help readers better understand the cognitive function of both neurotypical and non-neurotypical individuals. Overall, this research seeks to prove that applying a Mimetic Theory lens to this popular form of YA literature provides the beginning solutions to forms of persecution by explaining how literature functions as a guide to support marginalized people through advocacy and understanding.
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