Tag Archives: Chris Gabbard


This site represents a joint venture of the students in  “From Wonder to Error: Defect and Deformity in British Literature” (ENL 6455) at the University of North Florida, Spring 2012, taught by Professor Chris Gabbard. Producing the analytical articles on this site are graduate students Kelly Gooding, Nan Kavanaugh, Jacob Lusk, Bradley Markle, April Michael, Nicolas Michaud, Karla Podewils, Jessica Triolo, and Tiffany Young.

(alternative link: hit the back button when finished): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hElyxDpT3UY

The analyses on this site combine seventeenth- and eighteenth-century British literary studies with disability studies in the Humanities. As a framework, they employ the three paradigms that Western culture has used to understand and represent disability: the ancient symbolic, the medical, and the social constructionist models. In the first, disability serves as a sign of divine wonder or warning or as an indicator an internal moral condition. In the second, it serves as a sign of scientific pathology.  And in the third, it is viewed as a problem created by society.

The period of 1660 to 1780 is best understood as transitional. The way bodily anomaly was perceived was shifting from operating as outward indicator of inner vice or as divine warning — a “visual sign of deserved divine punishment for moral failings” — to serving instead as an indicator of scientific pathology, as “impersonal affliction randomly assigned throughout the population” (Deutsch; Davis). Along parallel lines, Rosemarie Garland Thomson describes this period as witnessing “a movement from a narrative of the marvelous to a narrative of the deviant,” one in which “wonder becomes error.” Hence, the course’s title.


Course’s primary texts:

William Shakespeare’s Richard the Third (1593)

John Milton’s Samson Agonistes (1671)

Aphra Behn’s “The Blind Lady a Beauty” and “The Dumb Virgin” (1688)

Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (1719)

Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels (1726)

William Hay’s Deformity, An Essay (1754)  (with Francis Bacon’s “Of Deformity” 1612)

Samuel Johnson’s The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia (1759)

Sarah Scott’s Millenium Hall (1762)

Samuel Johnson’s Life of Pope (1781)


Main secondary material

Henri-Jacques Stiker’s A History of Disability

David Mitchell & Sharon Snyder’s “Materiality of Metaphor” from Narrative Prosthesis


Reading list from which students could select individual readings (or had the readings assigned to them):

Barker, Clare. Postcolonial Fiction and Disability: Exceptional Children, Metaphor and Materiality. Basingstoke UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.

Benedict, Barbara. “Reading Faces: Physiognomy and Epistemology in Late Eighteenth-Century Sentimental Novels.” Studies in Philology 92 (1995): 311-28. Print.

—. “Making a Monster: Socializing Sexuality and the Monster of 1790.” “Defects”: Engendering the Modern Body. Ed. Helen Deutsch, and Felicity Nussbaum. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 2000. 127-153.

Codr, Dwight. “‘Her failing voice endeavoured, in vain, to articulate’: Sense and Disability in the Novels of Elizabeth Inchbald.” Philological Quarterly 87.3-4 (2008): n. pag. Web. 24 July 2010. Web.

Davis, Lennard. “Constructing Normalcy.” The Disability Studies Reader. Ed. Lennard J. Davis, Lennard. 3rd ed. New York and London: Routledge, 2010. 3-19. Print.

—. “Dr. Johnson, Amelia, and the Discourse of Disability in the Eighteenth Century.” “Defects”: Engendering the Modern Body. Ed. Helen Deutsch, and Felicity Nussbaum. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 2000. 54-74. Print.

—. “The Emergence of Obsession.” Obsession: A History. Chicago and London: U of Chicago P, 2008. Print.  (one chapter focuses on William Godwin’s novel, Caleb Williams)

—. “Who Put the The  in The Novel?” Bending Over Backwards: Essays on Disability and the Body. New York: NYU P, 2002. Print.

—. “Why Is Disability Missing From the Discourse on Diversity?” Chronicle of Higher Education. April 25, 2011. <http://chronicle.com/article/Why-Is-Disability-Missing-From/129088/&gt;. Web.

Deutsch, Helen, and Felicity Nussbaum. “Introduction.” “Defects”: Engendering the Modern Body. Ed. Helen Deutsch, and Felicity Nussbaum. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 2000. 2-28. Print.

Deutsch, Helen. “The Author as Monster: The Case of Dr. Johnson.” “Defects”: Engendering the Modern Body. Ed. Helen Deutsch, and Felicity Nussbaum. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 2000. 177-209. Print.

—. “The Body’s Moments: Visible Disability, The Essay and the Limits of Sympathy.” Prose Studies: History, Theory, Criticism 27.1-2 (2005): 11-26. Print.

—. “Exemplary Aberration: Samuel Johnson and the English Canon.” Disability Studies: Enabling the Humanities. Ed. Sharon Snyder, Brenda Jo Brueggemann, Rosemarie Garland Thomson. New York: MLA: 2002. 197-210. Print.

—. Resemblance and Disgrace: Alexander Pope and the Deformation of Culture. Cambridge, Harvard UP, 1996. Print.

Dickie, Simon. “Hilarity and Pitilessness in the Mid-Eighteenth Century: English Jestbook Humor.” Eighteenth-Century Studies  37.1 (2003): 1-22. Print.

—. Cruelty & Laughter: Forgotten Comic Literature and the Unsentimental 
Eighteenth Century. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2011.

Gabbard, D. Christopher. “From Idiot Beast to Idiot Sublime: Mental Disability in John Cleland’s Fanny Hill.” PMLA 123.2 (2008): 375-389. Print.

—. “‘What He Found Not Monsters, He Made So’: The I-word and The Bathos of Exclusion.” Journal of Literary Disability (now the Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies) 2.1 (2008). Web.

— “Disability Studies and the British Long Eighteenth Century” Literature Compass 8.2 (Feb. 2011): 80–94. Web.

Garland Thomson, Rosemarie. Extraordinary Bodies: Figuring Physical Disability in American Culture and Literature. New York: Columbia UP, 1997. Print.

—. Staring: How We Look. Oxford UK: Oxford UP, 2009. Print.

Gendering Disability. Ed. Bonnie Smith and Beth Hutchison. New Brunswick NJ: Rutgers UP, 2004. Print.

Laqueur, Thomas. Making Sex: Body and Gender from the Greeks to Freud. Cambridge MA: Harvard UP, 1992. Print.

Goodey, C. F. A History of Intelligence and ‘Intellectual Disability’: The Shaping of Psychology in the Early Modern Enlightenment. Burlington VT: Ashgate, 2011. Print.

—. “The Psychopolitics of Learning and Disability in Seventeenth-Century Thought.” From Idiocy to Mental Deficiency: Historical Perspectives on People with Learning Disabilities. Ed. David Wright, and Anne Digby. New York and London: Routledge, 1996. 93-117. Print.

—. “From Natural Disability to the Moral Man: Calvinism and the History of Psychology.” History of the Human Sciences 14.3 (2001): 1-29. Print

—. “John Locke’s idiots in the natural history of mind,” History of Psychology (British). 5.18 (1994): 215-250. Print.

Hawley, Judith. “Margins and Monstrosity: Martinus Scriblerus his ‘Double Mistress.’” Eighteenth-Century Life. 22.1 (1998): 31-49. Print.

James-Cavan, Kathleen. “‘All In Me Is Nature’: The Values of Deformity in William Hay’s Deformity: An Essay.” Prose Studies. 27.1&2 (2005): 27-38. Print.

Jones, Robert. W. “Obedient Faces: The Virtues of Deformity in Sarah Scott’s Fiction.” “Defects”: Engendering the Modern Body. Ed. Helen Deutsch, and Felicity Nussbaum. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 2000. 280-302. Print.

Kaplan, Cora. “Liberalism, Feminism, and Defect.” “Defects”: Engendering the Modern Body. Ed. Helen Deutsch, and Felicity Nussbaum. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 2000. 303-318. Print.

Lund, Roger. “Laughing at Cripples: Ridicule, Deformity and the Argument from Design.” Eighteenth-Century Studies 39.1 (2005): 91-114. Web.

Martinson, Robert L. “Alienation and the Production of Strangers: Western Medical Epistemology and the Architecture of the Body. An Historical Perspective.” Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry 19 (1995): 141-182. Print.

Mintz, Susannah. “Dalila’s Touch: Disability and Recognition in Samson Agonistes.Milton Studies 40 (2002): 150-180. Print.

—. “Freak Space: Aphra Behn’s Strange Bodies.” Restoration 30.2 (2006): 1-19. Print.

Mirzoeff, Nicholas. “Paper, Picture, Sign: Conversations between the Deaf, the Hard of Hearing, and Others.” “Defects”: Engendering the Modern Body. Ed. Helen Deutsch, and Felicity Nussbaum. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 2000. 75-92. Print.

Mitchell, David, and Sharon Snyder. Narrative Prosthesis: Disability and the Dependencies of Discourse. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 2000. Print.

Nussbaum, Felicity. The Limits of the Human: Fictions of Anomaly, Race, and Gender in the Long Eighteenth Century. New York: Cambridge UP, 2004. Print.

—. “Feminotopias: The Pleasures of ‘Deformity’ in Mid-Eighteenth-Century England.” The Body and Physical Difference: Discourses of Disability. Ed. David Mitchell and Sharon L. Snyder. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 1997. 161-173. Print.

—. “Dumb Virgins, Blind Ladies, and Eunichs: Fictions of Defect.” “Defects”: Engendering the Modern Body. Ed. Helen Deutsch, and Felicity Nussbaum. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 2000. 31-53. Print.

Pender, Stephen. “In the Bodyshop: Human Exhibition in Early Modern England.” “Defects”: Engendering the Modern Body. Ed. Helen Deutsch, and Felicity Nussbaum. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 2000. 95-126. Print.

Porter, Roy. ‘The Hunger of Imagination’: Approaching Samuel Johnson’s Melancholy.” The Anatomy of Madness: Essays in the History of Psychiatry. Ed. W. F. Bynum, Roy Porter, and Michael Shepherd. Vol. 1. London and New York: Tavistock, 1985. 63-88. Print.

Quayson, Ato. Aesthetic Nervousness: Disability and the Crisis of Representation. New York: Columbia UP, 2007. Print.

—. “Looking Awry: Tropes of Disability in Post-Colonial Writing.” An Introduction to Contemporary Fiction International Writing in English since 1970. Ed. Rod Mengham. Cambridge, England: Polity, 1999. 53-68. Print.

Schillace, Brandy Lain. “‘Temporary Failure of Mind’: Déjà Vu and Epilepsy in Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udlopho.” Eighteenth-Century Studies 42.2 (2009): 272-87. Print.

Snyder, Sharon L. “Infinities of Forms: Disability Figures in Artistic Traditions.” Disability Studies: Enabling the Humanities. Ed. Sharon Snyder, Brenda Jo Brueggemann, Rosemarie Garland Thomson. New York: MLA: 2002. 173-196. Print.

Stagg, Kevin. “Representing physical difference: The Materiality of the Monstrous.” Social Histories of Disability and Deformity. Ed. David Turner, and Kevin Stagg. New York: Routledge, 2006. 19-37. Print.

Temkin, O. The Falling Sickness: A History of Epilepsy from the Greeks to the Beginnings of Modern Neurology. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1994. Print.

Todd, Dennis. Imagining Monsters: Miscreations of the Self in Eighteenth-Century England. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1995. Print.

Verstraete, Piter. “Savage Solitude: the Problematisation of Disability at the Turn of the Eighteenth Century” Pedagogica Historica 45.3 (2009): 269-289. Print.