Australian Journal of French Studies

Lourdes’s Monsters: A Critical Disability Studies Reading of the Spectacle of Disability

Australian Journal of French Studies (2018), 55, (2), 171–183.

Abstract

Emile Zola’s 1894 novel Lourdes, J.-K. Huysmans’ 1906 travel narrative Les Foules de Lourdes and François Mauriac’s 1932 novella Pèlerins all seek to represent and interpret the “monstrous” bodies of ill and disabled pilgrims who visited the town of Lourdes. This article uses Rosemarie Garland-Thomson’s critical disability studies interpretation of the starer-staree relationship to explore the creative potential of the presence of disability in the literary text. All the texts under discussion are structured around a “quest-for-cure” narrative which subscribes to the outdated “medical” model of disability. Yet their narrators’ interest in disabled bodies leads to a set of powerful aesthetic encounters where narrators and readers are invited to celebrate disability for its own sake.

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Author details

Thompson, Hannah

Thompson, Hannah