Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies

The Gothic Grotesque

Disability, Deformity, and Monstrosity in Faulkner’s Sanctuary

Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies (2019), 13, (4), 461–476.

Abstract

Faulkner is often associated with the Southern Gothic, a genre that features Freudian repression, horror, and the grotesque. The article considers the relationship between disability and the Gothic in Faulkner’s Sanctuary, with a particular focus on the notion of monstrosity. While several critics have written about the range of disabled characters in Faulkner’s writing, Sanctuary may be read as part of a broader modernist engagement with textual and bodily deformity. Building on the work of scholars such as Ato Quayson, Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, and Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, the article demonstrates the ways disabled characters are often dehumanized in Faulkner’s Southern Gothic. Disabled characters may be said to disrupt ableist assumptions and draw attention to the dark, incestuous desires that have become the norm in Yoknapatawpha County. While Faulkner is notoriously ambivalent about disability in his writing, Sanctuary does blur the boundaries between able-bodied and disabled, normal and abnormal. Ultimately, the novel plays with the Gothic genre, creating a productive space in which to critique many popular discourses about biology, the body, and form that arose in the early twentieth century.

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Works Cited

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Bjerre, Thomas Ærvold. “Southern Gothic Literature.” Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Literature. Oxford Index, Jun. 2017. Web. 20 Jun. 2019. Google Scholar

Cohen, Jeffrey Jerome, ed. Monster Theory: Reading Culture. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1996. Print. Google Scholar

Cook, Richard. “Popeye, Flem, and Sutpen: The Faulknerian Villain as Grotesque.” Studies in American Fiction 3.1 (1975): 3–14. Print. Google Scholar

Creighton, Joanne V. “Self-Destructive Evil in Sanctuary.” Twentieth Century Literature 18.4 (1972): 259–70. Print. Google Scholar

Edwards, Justin and Agnieszka Soltysik Monnet. The Gothic in Contemporary Literature and Popular Culture Pop Goth. Abingdon: Routledge, 2013. Print. Google Scholar

Faulkner, William. Essays, Speeches and Public Letters. Ed. James P. Meriwether. London: Chatto and Windus, 1967. Print. Google Scholar

Faulkner, William. Faulkner in the University: Class Conferences at the University of Virginia, 1957–58. Ed. Frederick L. Gwynn and Joseph L. Blotner. Charlottesville: U of Virginia P, 1959. Print. Google Scholar

Faulkner, William. Sanctuary. New York: Vintage, 1993. Print. Google Scholar

Freud, Sigmund. Civilization and Its Discontents. New York: Norton, 1961. Print. Google Scholar

Garland-Thomson, Rosemarie. Staring: How We Look. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2009. Print. Google Scholar

Hagood, Taylor. William Faulkner: Writer of Dis-Ability. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP, 2014. Print. Google Scholar

Hall, Melinda. “Horrible Heroes: Liberating Alternative Visions of Disability in Horror.” Disability Studies Quarterly 36.1 (2016): 1–17. Web. 19 Jun. 2019. Google Scholar

Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar of Jacques Lacan: Anxiety. Trans. Cormac Gallagher. London: Karnac Books, 1962. Print. Google Scholar

Larson, S. A. “‘I be Dawg’: Intellectual Disability and the Animal Other in the Works of William Faulkner.” Disability Studies Quarterly 34.4 (2014). Web. 15 Oct. 2019. Google Scholar

Linett, Maren Tova. Bodies of Modernism: Physical Disability in Transatlantic Modernist Literature. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 2017. Print. Google Scholar

Matthews, John T. “The Elliptical Nature of Sanctuary.” NOVEL 17.3 (1984): 246–65. Print. Google Scholar

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

Rohman, Carrie. Stalking the Subject: Modernism and the Animal. New York: Columbia UP, 2009. Print. Google Scholar

Rossky, William. “The Pattern of Nightmare in Sanctuary; Or, Miss Reba’s Dogs.” MFS: Modern Fiction Studies 15.4 (1969): 503–15. Print. Google Scholar

Scheel, Kathleen M. “Incest, Repression, and Repetition-Compulsion: The Case of Faulkner’s Temple Drake.” Mosaic 30.4 (1997): 39–55. Web. 19 Jun. 2019. Google Scholar

Seed, David. “The Evidence of Things Seen and Unseen: William Faulkner’s Sanctuary.” American Horror Fiction: From Brockden Brown to Stephen King. Ed. Brian Docherty. New York: St Martin’s Press, 1990. 73–91. Print. Google Scholar

Tanner, Laura E. “Reading Rape: Sanctuary and the Women of Brewster Place.” American Literature 62.4 (1990): 559–82. Print. Google Scholar

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Details

Author details

Williams, Sebastian A.