Crip / Early / Modern: The Sexual Politics Of Disability In English Renaissance Literature

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Evyan D. Gainey (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site:
David Orvis

Abstract: This study inquires into the ways sick and disabled bodies bear a sexually politicized thrust within several dramatic and poetic works of the English Renaissance. I would like to add to the growing conversation concerning literary interpretations of disability by suggesting that disabled embodiment was often rationalized within early modern literature as a force of subversive sexual power—embodiment figured as not only improperly sexual but also, at times, hypersexual, threatening to the sociopolitical environments of the textual worlds I examine. To make this argument, I consider three Renaissance works—William Shakespeare’s problem-play All’s Well That Ends Well, Richard Barnfield’s pastoral poem The Affectionate Shepherd, and Thomas Heywood’s domestic tragedy A Woman Killed with Kindness. The social arenas depicted in these texts demand bodies to acquire able-bodiedness and, by consequence, sexual use-value and productivity, employing efforts of medicalization and social erasure to make this happy ending a happy reality.

Additional Information

Gainey, E. (2017). "Crip / Early / Modern: The Sexual Politics Of Disability In English Renaissance Literature." Unpublished Master’s Thesis. Appalachian State University, Boone, NC
Language: English
Date: 2017
Disability, Sexuality, Drama, Poetry, Renaissance

Email this document to