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Title: Invalid lives : disability, masculinity and consumptive identity in nineteenth-century culture
Author: Tankard, Alexandra
ISNI:       0000 0004 2701 9131
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2010
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Focussing on texts produced between the publication of Rene Laennec's Treatise on Diseases of the Chest and on Mediate Auscultation (1819; trans. 1821), and the emergence of a law demanding compulsory notification of all cases of pulmonary tuberculosis in 1912, this thesis examines the ways in which evolving cultural discourses surrounding tuberculosis affected the identities of men with this impairment. Many of the texts analysed in this thesis refuse to naturalise any one cultural model of consumptive identity, depicting consumptives who are themselves aware of the cultural pressures shaping their identity. My thesis shows that their exposure of hitherto naturalised social discrimination constitutes a `social model' of disability and, therefore, an early demonstration of disability theory working within nineteenth-century texts. In Chapter 1,1 analyse nineteenth-century social history documents, advice books written for consumptives and their carers, mainstream medical textbooks, and eugenic texts depicting the emerging biomedical model of tuberculosis and the disabling social marginalisation experienced by consumptive men. Chapter 2 examines letters and near-contemporary biographical and critical material discussing poet John Keats (1795-1821) and artist Aubrey Beardsley (1872-1898) to explore the ways in which nineteenth-century consumptives could interact with prevailing cultural stereotypes. Chapter 3 focuses on the characterisation of Linton Heathcliff in Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights (1847), analysing the disruptive potential of juxtaposing traditional Romantic and sentimental models of disability with new models of disease as a mundane biological phenomenon. Chapter 4 focuses on the consumptive's outraged response to a new, distinctively Darwinian deity called `Nature' in Fyodor Dostoevsky's The Idiot (1869) and Thomas Hardy's Jude the Obscure (1895). In Chapter 5I discuss the ways in which Beatrice Harraden's Ships That Pass in the Night (1893) approaches the problem of conceptualising a disabled identity as one generated through negative social `damage' and yet still worthy of validation. Ships presents the struggle for valid disabled identity as analogous with the situation of women seeking self-realisation and social equality in the 1890s. My thesis offers the potential to redefine `positive' representation of disabled identity according to criteria more coherently theorised than elsewhere in disability studies. Many of the texts explored in my thesis undermine disabling cultural structures not by presenting flattering or `realistic' images of disability, but by presenting disruptive ways of performing the negative, unrealistic and clichdd consumptive identities available in nineteenth-century culture. My focus on deployment rather than content of cultural identities has allowed this thesis to redefine the political radicalism of nineteenth-century texts - and people - hitherto ignored by the modem disability movement. Exploiting historical and moral chinks in the armour of traditional essentialist models of disability, these `negative' identities demonstrate a degree of socio-political consciousness that would only re-emerge in disability criticism at the end of the twentieth century
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available