Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies

Curious Prescriptions

Selfish Care in Victorian Fictions of Disability

Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies (2017), 11, (4), 461–476.

Abstract

As industrialism took hold in nineteenth-century England, words like independence and dependence became evermore associated with care work. By paying close attention to the networks of care that implicate fictional characters and readers in Dinah Maria Mulock Craik’s Olive and in Charles Dickens’s “Doctor Marigold,” the article proposes that the relationship between caregiver and recipient of care was “pre-scripted” to silence the already marginalized object of care and identifies a reason for such ineffective care: reciprocal care relations often veil selfish care. Reciprocal care relations also break down at the level of readership, where these authors use form or plot to engage readers in discourses of uneven care. Still, we cannot reject selfishly-motivated care, bound as it is in these fictions to interdependent, high-quality care.

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Starkowski, Kristen H.