Aesthetic Nervousness

Disability and the Crisis of Representation

Ato Quayson

Columbia University Press

Aesthetic Nervousness

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Pub Date: June 2007

ISBN: 9780231139038

264 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $30.00£24.00

Pub Date: June 2007

ISBN: 9780231139021

264 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $90.00£70.00

Pub Date: June 2007

ISBN: 9780231511179

264 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $29.99£24.00

Aesthetic Nervousness

Disability and the Crisis of Representation

Ato Quayson

Columbia University Press

Focusing primarily on the work of Samuel Beckett, Toni Morrison, Wole Soyinka, and J. M. Coetzee, Ato Quayson launches a thoroughly cross-cultural, interdisciplinary study of the representation of physical disability. Quayson suggests that the subliminal unease and moral panic invoked by the disabled is refracted within the structures of literature and literary discourse itself, a crisis he terms "aesthetic nervousness." The disabled reminds the able-bodied that the body is provisional and temporary and that normality is wrapped up in certain social frameworks. Quayson expands his argument by turning to Greek and Yoruba writings, African American and postcolonial literature, depictions of deformed characters in early modern England and the plays of Shakespeare, and children's films, among other texts. He considers how disability affects interpersonal relationships and forces the character and the reader to take an ethical standpoint, much like representations of violence, pain, and the sacred. The disabled are also used to represent social suffering, inadvertently obscuring their true hardships.
Quayson raises illuminating points... and reveals how disability is perceived in a multifaceted society... Highly recommended. CHOICE
Quayson's new work is at once learned, wide-ranging, cosmopolitan, and meticulous. Lennard J. Davis, Modern Philology
Preface
Acknowledgments
1. Introduction: Aesthetic Nervousness
2. A Typology of Disability Representation
3. Samuel Beckett: Disability as Hermeneutical Impasse
4. Toni Morrison: Disability, Ambiguity, and Perspectival Modulations
5. Wole Soyinka: Disability, Maimed Rites, and the Systemic Uncanny
6. J. M. Coetzee: Speech, Silence, Autism, and Dialogism
7. The Repeating Island: Race, Difference, Disability, and the Heterogeneities of Robben Island's History
Conclusion
Notes
Bibliography
Index

"The disabled body has historically invited, compelled, and incited a variety of responses almost in spite of whatever specific impairments may be at issue. Even though in Western societies the disabled are no longer directly linked in the social imaginary to monsters and criminals, persons with disabilities, located on the margins of society, have historically taken on the coloration of whatever else is perceived to also lie on that social margin."-From the introduction

About the Author

Ato Quayson is professor of English and inaugural director of the Centre for Diaspora and Transnational Studies at the University of Toronto. He taught for ten years on the Faculty of English and was also director of the Centre for African Studies at the University of Cambridge. He has also published widely on African literature, literary theory, cultural studies, and postcolonial studies.