My Body is a Cage: Imprisonments of the Disabled Male Body in Contemporary Gothic Fiction

Alan Gregory will come to speak about gothic fiction and disability.

This is a free event however registration is required in advance. There will be a drinks reception after the lecture.

Gothic literature is full of monstrous and unusual bodies, but has hitherto been largely neglected by the swiftly emerging field of literary disability studies. Through an examination of the work of three prominent contemporary Gothic writers - Patrick McGrath, Stephen King, and Thomas Harris – the speaker will address the lack of sustained scholastic explorations of physical disability as a motif in contemporary Gothic writing, and engage with the research of several prominent disability studies scholars. Focusing particularly on the representation of male bodies, in order to highlight how reconfigurations of the male body as disabled in contemporary literature parallel the notion that monolithic masculinities are perpetually threatened in contemporary culture, this paper will illustrate how the Gothic’s uncomfortable conflation of disability with monstrosity impacts on representations of physical difference by extending beyond the presentation of disability as a form of freakery and public spectacle. Gothic configurations of disability also manifest as corporeal spectres within the private sphere, within broken and monstrous bodies that must remain hidden unless they can be returned to an acceptable degree of difference, or their disabilities can be erased. The Gothic thereby offers an unlikely, radical space in which disabled masculinities can be renegotiated.

Alan Gregory completed his Ph.D. at Lancaster University in 2013. His publications include ‘Staging the Extraordinary Body: Masquerading Disability in Patrick McGrath’s Martha Peake’ and ‘Fabricating Narrative Prosthesis: Fashioning (Disabled) Gothic Bodies in Tim Burton’s Batman Returns’. He is currently editing a special issue of Studies in Gothic Fiction on Disabled Gothic Bodies, and completing the monograph Disabled Male Bodies in Contemporary Gothic Fiction for Palgrave Macmillan’s Literary Disability Studies series.

This event is being jointly organised by the Centre for Disability Studies and the Centre for Law & Social Justice.