The Seminar in Eighteenth-& Nineteenth-century Studies, in association with the English department, will be hosting a book launch celebration for Essaka Joshua's new book, Physical Disability in British Romantic Literature, from Cambridge University Press. The celebration will take place in 232 Decio Hall on Friday, October 8th at 2:00 pm. A reception will follow on the patio outside of Decio Hall (weather permitting)
The modern concept of disability did not exist in the Romantic period. This study addresses the anachronistic use of 'disability' in scholarship of the Romantic era, providing a disability studies theorized account that explores the relationship between ideas of function and aesthetics. Unpacking the politics of ability, the book reveals the centrality of capacity and weakness concepts to the egalitarian politics of the 1790s, and the importance of desert theory to debates about sentiment and the charitable relief of impaired soldiers. Clarifying the aesthetics of deformity as distinct from discussions of ability, Joshua uncovers a controversy over the use of deformity in picturesque aesthetics, offers accounts of deformity that anticipate recent disability studies theory, and discusses deformity and monstrosity as a blended category in Frankenstein. Setting aside the modern concept of disability, Joshua cogently argues for the historical and critical value of period-specific terms.