Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies

Prosthesis Repurposed

Gender and Rehabilitation in Flannery O’Connor’s Fiction

Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies (2017), 11, (4), 385–401.

Abstract

The article posits Flannery O’Connor’s writing as an articulation of prosthesis’s subversive potential. A crutch user, O’Connor wrote in the wake of World War II, as rehabilitation professionals sought not only to supply disabled people with sophisticated prostheses, but also to train them in their use. While the prescriptive instruction of the rehabilitation industry worked to reinstate normative productivity along gender lines, O’Connor’s work illuminates technology’s potential as a site for reimagining and reframing disabled embodiment. O’Connor’s texts and characters attempt this repurposing through individual and subversive prosthesis use. Drawing primarily on her stories “Good Country People” and “The Lame Shall Enter First,” the article considers how the use of prostheses to communicate unique predilections and desires challenges the standardizing impulse that undergirded postwar rehabilitation.

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Patterson, Kathleen A. “Negotiating Elevators and Haylofts: Disability and Identity in Flannery O’Connor’s Short Fiction.” Literature and Sickness. Ed. David Bevan. Rodopi, 1993. Print. Negotiating Elevators and Haylofts: Disability and Identity in Flannery O’Connor’s Short Fiction Literature and Sickness Google Scholar

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Rusk, Howard A. et al. A Manual for Training the Disabled Homemaker. Institute of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, 1955. Print. A Manual for Training the Disabled Homemaker Google Scholar

Rusk, Howard A. et al. “Rehabilitation: Forgotten Casualty: The Disabled Civilian.” New York Times 12 May 1946: 94. Web. Nov. 2015. Rehabilitation: Forgotten Casualty: The Disabled Civilian New York Times Google Scholar

Rusk, Howard A. et al. “Rehabilitation: American Legion Will Present ‘Real Life’ Demonstration of Improved Disabled Ex-GI’s at San Francisco This Week.” New York Times 29 Sep. 1946: 56. Web. Nov. 2015. Rehabilitation: American Legion Will Present ‘Real Life’ Demonstration of Improved Disabled Ex-GI’s at San Francisco This Week New York Times Google Scholar

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Rusk, Howard A. et al. “Rehabilitation: Research in Developing Techniques and the Equipment for Them Held Needed.” New York Times 13 July 1947: 25. Web. Nov. 2015. Rehabilitation: Research in Developing Techniques and the Equipment for Them Held Needed New York Times Google Scholar

Serlin, David. Replaceable You: Engineering the Body in Postwar America. U of Chicago P, 2004. Print. Replaceable You: Engineering the Body in Postwar America Google Scholar

Siebers, Tobin. Disability Theory. U of Michigan P, 2008. Print. Disability Theory Google Scholar

Sobchack, Vivian. “A Leg to Stand On: Prosthetics, Metaphor, and Materiality.” The Prosthetic Impulse: From a Posthuman Present to a Biocultural Future. Ed. Marquard Smith and Joanne Morra. MIT, 2006. 17–42. Print. A Leg to Stand On: Prosthetics, Metaphor, and Materiality The Prosthetic Impulse: From a Posthuman Present to a Biocultural Future 17 42 Google Scholar

Williamson, Bess. “Electric Moms and Quad Drivers: People with Disabilities Buying, Making, and Using Technology in Postwar America.” American Studies 52.1 (2012): 5–29. Print. Electric Moms and Quad Drivers: People with Disabilities Buying, Making, and Using Technology in Postwar America American Studies 52.1 5 29 Google Scholar

Wilson, Natalie. “Misfit Bodies and Errant Gender: The Corporeal Feminism of Flannery O’Connor.” “On the Subject of the Feminist Business”: Re-reading Flannery O’Connor. Ed. Teresa Caruso. P. Lang, 2004. 40–63. Print. Misfit Bodies and Errant Gender: The Corporeal Feminism of Flannery O’Connor “On the Subject of the Feminist Business”: Re-reading Flannery O’Connor 40 63 Google Scholar

Bauer, Margaret D. “The Betrayal of Ruby Hill and Hulga Hopewell: Recognizing Feminist Concerns in ‘A Stroke of Good Fortune’ and ‘Good Country People’.” “On the Subject of the Feminist Business”: Re-reading Flannery O’Connor. Ed. Teresa Caruso. P. Lang, 2004. 40–63. Print. The Betrayal of Ruby Hill and Hulga Hopewell: Recognizing Feminist Concerns in ‘A Stroke of Good Fortune’ and ‘Good Country People’ “On the Subject of the Feminist Business”: Re-reading Flannery O’Connor 40 63 Google Scholar

Behling, Laura L. “The Necessity of Disability in Flannery O’Connor’s ‘Good Country People’ and ‘The Lame Shall Enter First.’” Flannery O’Connor Review 4 (2006): 88–98. Web. Oct. 2015. The Necessity of Disability in Flannery O’Connor’s ‘Good Country People’ and ‘The Lame Shall Enter First.’ Flannery O’Connor Review 4 88 98 Google Scholar

Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble. 2nd ed. Taylor and Francis, 1999. Print. Gender Trouble Google Scholar

Caruso, Teresa. “Introduction.” “On the Subject of the Feminist Business”: Re-reading Flannery O’Connor. Ed. Teresa Caruso. P. Lang, 2004. 1–8. Print. Introduction “On the Subject of the Feminist Business”: Re-reading Flannery O’Connor 1 8 Google Scholar

Davis, Lennard J. Enforcing Normalcy: Disability, Deafness, and the Body. Verso, 1995. Print. Enforcing Normalcy: Disability, Deafness, and the Body Google Scholar

Dolmage, Jay. Disability Rhetoric. First Edition. Syracuse UP, 2014. Print. Disability Rhetoric Google Scholar

Evans, David H. “Cut! … Flannery O’Connor’s Apotemnophiliac Allegories.” American Literature 81.2 (2009): 305–331. Web. Oct. 2015. Cut! … Flannery O’Connor’s Apotemnophiliac Allegories American Literature 81.2 305 331 Google Scholar

Feeley, Kathleen. Flannery O’Connor: Voice of the Peacock. Rutgers UP, 1972. Print. Flannery O’Connor: Voice of the Peacock Google Scholar

Garland-Thomson, Rosemarie. Extraordinary Bodies: Figuring Physical Disability in American Culture and Literature. Columbia UP, 1997. Print. Extraordinary Bodies: Figuring Physical Disability in American Culture and Literature Google Scholar

Gordon, Sarah. Flannery O’Connor: The Obedient Imagination. U of Georgia P, 2000. Print. Flannery O’Connor: The Obedient Imagination Google Scholar

Horner, Carl S., and Elena V. Barnes. “Misfit as Metaphor: The Question and the Contradiction of Lupus in Flannery O’Connor’s ‘A Good Man Is Hard to Find.’” Disability Studies Quarterly 25.4 (2005). Web. Oct. 2015. Misfit as Metaphor: The Question and the Contradiction of Lupus in Flannery O’Connor’s ‘A Good Man Is Hard to Find.’ Disability Studies Quarterly 25.4 Google Scholar

Kurzman, Steven L. “Presence and Prosthesis: A Response to Nelson and Wright.” Cultural Anthropology 16.3 (2001): 374. Web. Dec. 2015. Presence and Prosthesis: A Response to Nelson and Wright Cultural Anthropology 16.3 374 Google Scholar

Linton, Simi. My Body Politic: A Memoir. U of Michigan P, 2007. Print. My Body Politic: A Memoir Google Scholar

McRuer, Robert. Crip Theory: Cultural Signs of Queerness and Disability. New York: New York UP, 2006. Crip Theory: Cultural Signs of Queerness and Disability Google Scholar

Markotic, Nicole. “Re/Presenting Disability and Illness: Foucault and Two 20th Century Fictions.” Disability Studies Quarterly 23.2 (2003). Web. Oct. 2015. Re/Presenting Disability and Illness: Foucault and Two 20th Century Fictions Disability Studies Quarterly 23.2 Google Scholar

Mills, Mara. “Technology.” Keywords for Disability Studies. Ed. Benjamin Reiss, David Serlin, and Rachel Adams. New York: New York UP, 2015. 176–79. Print. Technology Keywords for Disability Studies 176 79 Google Scholar

Mitchell, David T., and Sharon L. Snyder. Narrative Prosthesis: Disability and the Dependencies of Discourse. U of Michigan P, 2000. Print. Narrative Prosthesis: Disability and the Dependencies of Discourse Google Scholar

Monroe, William F. “Flannery O’Connor and the Celebration of Embodiment.” The Good Body: Asceticism in Contemporary Culture. Ed. Mary G. Winkler and Letha B. Cole. Yale UP, 1994. 171–88. Print. Flannery O’Connor and the Celebration of Embodiment The Good Body: Asceticism in Contemporary Culture 171 88 Google Scholar

O’Connor, Flannery. Collected Works. 1st edition. Library of America, 1988. Print. Collected Works Google Scholar

O’Connor, Flannery. The Habit of Being: Letters of Flannery O’Connor. Ed. Sally Fitzgerald. Reprint edition. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1988. Print. The Habit of Being: Letters of Flannery O’Connor Google Scholar

Ott, Katherine. “Carnage Remembered: Prosthetics in the US Military since the 1860s.” Materializing the Military. Ed. Bernard Finn and Barton Hacker. London Science Museum, 2005. 47–64. Print. Carnage Remembered: Prosthetics in the US Military since the 1860s Materializing the Military 47 64 Google Scholar

Ott, Katherine. “Disability Things: Material Culture and American Disability History, 1700–2000.” Disability Histories. Ed. Susan Burch and Michael A. Rembis. U of Illinois P, 2014. 119–35. Print. Disability Things: Material Culture and American Disability History, 1700–2000 Disability Histories 119 35 Google Scholar

Pace, Eric. “Howard Rusk, 88, Dies; Medical Pioneer.” The New York Times 5 Nov. 1989. NYTimes.com. Web. Dec. 2015. Google Scholar

Patterson, Kathleen A. “Negotiating Elevators and Haylofts: Disability and Identity in Flannery O’Connor’s Short Fiction.” Literature and Sickness. Ed. David Bevan. Rodopi, 1993. Print. Negotiating Elevators and Haylofts: Disability and Identity in Flannery O’Connor’s Short Fiction Literature and Sickness Google Scholar

Prown, Katherine Hemple. Revising Flannery O’Connor: Southern Literary Culture and the Problem of Female Authorship. UP of Virginia, 2001. Print. Revising Flannery O’Connor: Southern Literary Culture and the Problem of Female Authorship Google Scholar

Rusk, Howard A. et al. A Manual for Training the Disabled Homemaker. Institute of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, 1955. Print. A Manual for Training the Disabled Homemaker Google Scholar

Rusk, Howard A. et al. “Rehabilitation: Forgotten Casualty: The Disabled Civilian.” New York Times 12 May 1946: 94. Web. Nov. 2015. Rehabilitation: Forgotten Casualty: The Disabled Civilian New York Times Google Scholar

Rusk, Howard A. et al. “Rehabilitation: American Legion Will Present ‘Real Life’ Demonstration of Improved Disabled Ex-GI’s at San Francisco This Week.” New York Times 29 Sep. 1946: 56. Web. Nov. 2015. Rehabilitation: American Legion Will Present ‘Real Life’ Demonstration of Improved Disabled Ex-GI’s at San Francisco This Week New York Times Google Scholar

Rusk, Howard A. et al. “Rehabilitation: Patton’s Injury Stresses Aid Given To Cases of Paralysis Resulting From Spinal Hurts During Second World War.” New York Times 16 Dec. 1945: 34. Web. Nov. 2015. Rehabilitation: Patton’s Injury Stresses Aid Given To Cases of Paralysis Resulting From Spinal Hurts During Second World War New York Times Google Scholar

Rusk, Howard A. et al. “Rehabilitation: Research in Developing Techniques and the Equipment for Them Held Needed.” New York Times 13 July 1947: 25. Web. Nov. 2015. Rehabilitation: Research in Developing Techniques and the Equipment for Them Held Needed New York Times Google Scholar

Serlin, David. Replaceable You: Engineering the Body in Postwar America. U of Chicago P, 2004. Print. Replaceable You: Engineering the Body in Postwar America Google Scholar

Siebers, Tobin. Disability Theory. U of Michigan P, 2008. Print. Disability Theory Google Scholar

Sobchack, Vivian. “A Leg to Stand On: Prosthetics, Metaphor, and Materiality.” The Prosthetic Impulse: From a Posthuman Present to a Biocultural Future. Ed. Marquard Smith and Joanne Morra. MIT, 2006. 17–42. Print. A Leg to Stand On: Prosthetics, Metaphor, and Materiality The Prosthetic Impulse: From a Posthuman Present to a Biocultural Future 17 42 Google Scholar

Williamson, Bess. “Electric Moms and Quad Drivers: People with Disabilities Buying, Making, and Using Technology in Postwar America.” American Studies 52.1 (2012): 5–29. Print. Electric Moms and Quad Drivers: People with Disabilities Buying, Making, and Using Technology in Postwar America American Studies 52.1 5 29 Google Scholar

Wilson, Natalie. “Misfit Bodies and Errant Gender: The Corporeal Feminism of Flannery O’Connor.” “On the Subject of the Feminist Business”: Re-reading Flannery O’Connor. Ed. Teresa Caruso. P. Lang, 2004. 40–63. Print. Misfit Bodies and Errant Gender: The Corporeal Feminism of Flannery O’Connor “On the Subject of the Feminist Business”: Re-reading Flannery O’Connor 40 63 Google Scholar

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Libow, Jess