Seminar “The Virus Of Slavery And Injustice”: Analogy And Disabled Life In African American Writings, 1856 1892

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Engaging Todd Carmody’s invitation to consider how “race might have been ‘like’ disability in the late nineteenth century,” this essay explores texts by African American authors Charlotte L. Forten, Martin Robison Delany, and Frances E.W. Harper. Harper’s novel Iola Leroy renders slavery a “virus,” “deadly cancer,” and “wound,” necessitating cure; simultaneously, the novel depicts lived realities of disability, disrupts diagnostic reading practices, and takes a care-based, rather than curative, approach to disability itself.  The essay thus reads literature as a generative site for asserting ableism’s centrality to the legacy of racial violence, and explores the value of using diagnostic-like narrative methods to target systemic sources of mass debilitation.

The Dina G. Malgeri Modern American Society & Culture Seminar invites you to join this special session in the Disability and the American Past series. Seminars bring together a diverse group of scholars and interested members of the public to workshop a pre-circulated paperLearn more.

Please note, this is an exclusively online event hosted on the video conference platform, Zoom. Registrants will receive a confirmation message with attendance information.