Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies

Otherwise Undisclosed: Blood, Species, and Benjy Compson’s Idiocy

Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies (2016), 10, (3), 287–304.

Abstract

The article critiques the biologization of intellectual disability as speciesist pathology using as case studies William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury and a headline about a post-natal blood test. Following Ellen Samuels’s work on “fantasies of identification,” and aiming to bridge animal studies and disability studies, it settles into a sustained examination of how Benjy Compson, a canonical idiot figure, has perpetuated a hermeneutic of hemophobia (i.e., an anxiety about blood) and zoophobia (i.e., an anxiety about species). In response, a new approach to Benjy is proposed: reading for the tropological confusion of idiocy and caninity. This approach unlocks a subtext in Faulkner’s novel, which destabilizes the social script responsible for diagnosing Benjy’s idiocy as a consequence of “bad blood”—a eugenics-inflected script that extends to today’s technologies of biological identification.

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Carlson, Licia. The Faces of Intellectual Disability. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 2010. Print. The Faces of Intellectual Disability Google Scholar

Davidson, Michael. Concerto for the Left Hand. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 2008. Print. Concerto for the Left Hand Google Scholar

Deckha, Maneesha. “Holding onto Humanity.” Unbound 5.21 (2009): 21–54. Web. 10 Jan. 2015. Holding onto Humanity Unbound 5.21 21 54 Google Scholar

Derrida, Jacques. The Animal That Therefore I Am. Ed. Marie-Louise Mallet. Trans. David Wills. New York: Fordham UP, 2008. Print. The Animal That Therefore I Am Google Scholar

Faulkner, William. The Sound and the Fury. Ed. David Minter. New York: Norton, 1987. Print. The Sound and the Fury Google Scholar

“FDA Approves First-Of-A-Kind Intellectual Disability Blood Test For Infants.” The Huffington Post. The Huffington Post, US edn, 17 Jan. 2014. Web. 1 June 2014. Google Scholar

Foucault, Michel. The History of Sexuality: Volume 1. Trans. Robert Hurley. New York: Vintage, 1990. Print. The History of Sexuality: Volume 1 Google Scholar

Goffman, Erving. Stigma. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1963. Print. Stigma Google Scholar

Griffiths, Jacqui. “Almost Human: Indeterminate Children and Dogs in Flush and The Sound and the Fury.” The Yearbook of English Studies 32 (2002): 163–76. Web. 15 Nov. 2014. Almost Human: Indeterminate Children and Dogs in Flush and The Sound and the Fury Flush 32 163 76 Google Scholar

Hagood, Taylor. “The Secret Machinery of Textuality, Or, What is Benjy Compson Really Thinking?” Faulkner and Formalism. Jackson, Mississippi UP, 2012. Print. 92–106. The Secret Machinery of Textuality, Or, What is Benjy Compson Really Thinking? Faulkner and Formalism 92 106 Google Scholar

Halliwell, Martin. Images of Idiocy. Burlington: Ashgate, 2004. Print. Images of Idiocy Google Scholar

Haraway, Donna. Modest_Witness@Second_Millenium.FemaleMan©Meets_OncoMouse TM . New York: Routledge, 1997. Print. Modest_Witness@Second_Millenium.FemaleMan©Meets_OncoMouse TM Google Scholar

Haraway, Donna. When Species Meet. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2008. Print. When Species Meet Google Scholar

Howe, Irving. “The Sound and the Fury.” William Faulkner: A Critical Study. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1975. 157–74. Print. The Sound and the Fury William Faulkner: A Critical Study 157 74 Google Scholar

Lippit, Akira Mizuta. Electric Animal: Toward a Rhetoric of Wildlife. Minneapolis: Minnesota UP, 2000. Print. Electric Animal: Toward a Rhetoric of Wildlife Google Scholar

McLaughlin, Sara. “Faulkner’s Faux Pas: Referring to Benjamin Compson as an Idiot.” Literature and Psychology 33.2 (1987): 34–40. Web. 15 Nov. 2014. Faulkner’s Faux Pas: Referring to Benjamin Compson as an Idiot Literature and Psychology 33.2 34 40 Google Scholar

Medoro, Dana. “‘Between Two Moons Balanced’: Menstruation and Narrative in The Sound and the Fury.” Mosaic 33.4 (2000): 91–114. Web. 15 Nov. 2014. ‘Between Two Moons Balanced’: Menstruation and Narrative in The Sound and the Fury The Sound and the Fury 33.4 91 114 Google Scholar

Michaels, Walter Benn. Our America. Durham: Duke UP, 1995. Print. Our America Google Scholar

Quayson, Ato. Aesthetic Nervousness. New York: Columbia UP, 2007. Print. Aesthetic Nervousness Google Scholar

Rapley, Mark. The Social Construction of Intellectual Disability. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2004. Print. The Social Construction of Intellectual Disability Google Scholar

Samuels, Ellen. Fantasies of Identification. New York: New York UP, 2014. Print. Fantasies of Identification Google Scholar

Samway, Patrick and Gentry Silver. “In The Sound and the Fury, Benjy Most Likely Suffers from Autism.” The Faulkner Journal of Japan 12 (2010). Web. 15 Nov. 2014. In The Sound and the Fury, Benjy Most Likely Suffers from Autism The Sound and the Fury 12 Google Scholar

Shukin, Nicole. Animal Capital. Minneapolis: Minnesota UP, 2009. Print. Animal Capital Google Scholar

Snyder, Sharon L. and David T. Mitchell. Cultural Locations of Disability. Chicago: Chicago UP, 2007. Print. Cultural Locations of Disability Google Scholar

Taussig, Michael. Mimesis and Alterity. New York: Routledge, 1993. Print. Mimesis and Alterity Google Scholar

Truchan-Tataryn, Maria. “Textual Abuse: Faulkner’s Benjy.” Journal of Medical Humanities 26.2/3 (2005): 159–73. Web. 4 Apr. 2016. Textual Abuse: Faulkner’s Benjy Journal of Medical Humanities 26.2/3 159 73 Google Scholar

Wainwright, Michael. Darwin and Faulkner’s Novels. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008. Print. Darwin and Faulkner’s Novels Google Scholar

Watson, Jay. “Genealogies of White Deviance.” Faulkner and Whiteness. Ed. Jay Watson. Jackson: Mississippi UP, 2011. Print. 19–55. Print. Genealogies of White Deviance Faulkner and Whiteness 19–55 Google Scholar

Wolfe, Cary. Animal Rites. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2003. Print. Animal Rites Google Scholar

Carlson, Licia. The Faces of Intellectual Disability. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 2010. Print. The Faces of Intellectual Disability Google Scholar

Davidson, Michael. Concerto for the Left Hand. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 2008. Print. Concerto for the Left Hand Google Scholar

Deckha, Maneesha. “Holding onto Humanity.” Unbound 5.21 (2009): 21–54. Web. 10 Jan. 2015. Holding onto Humanity Unbound 5.21 21 54 Google Scholar

Derrida, Jacques. The Animal That Therefore I Am. Ed. Marie-Louise Mallet. Trans. David Wills. New York: Fordham UP, 2008. Print. The Animal That Therefore I Am Google Scholar

Faulkner, William. The Sound and the Fury. Ed. David Minter. New York: Norton, 1987. Print. The Sound and the Fury Google Scholar

“FDA Approves First-Of-A-Kind Intellectual Disability Blood Test For Infants.” The Huffington Post. The Huffington Post, US edn, 17 Jan. 2014. Web. 1 June 2014. Google Scholar

Foucault, Michel. The History of Sexuality: Volume 1. Trans. Robert Hurley. New York: Vintage, 1990. Print. The History of Sexuality: Volume 1 Google Scholar

Goffman, Erving. Stigma. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1963. Print. Stigma Google Scholar

Griffiths, Jacqui. “Almost Human: Indeterminate Children and Dogs in Flush and The Sound and the Fury.” The Yearbook of English Studies 32 (2002): 163–76. Web. 15 Nov. 2014. Almost Human: Indeterminate Children and Dogs in Flush and The Sound and the Fury Flush 32 163 76 Google Scholar

Hagood, Taylor. “The Secret Machinery of Textuality, Or, What is Benjy Compson Really Thinking?” Faulkner and Formalism. Jackson, Mississippi UP, 2012. Print. 92–106. The Secret Machinery of Textuality, Or, What is Benjy Compson Really Thinking? Faulkner and Formalism 92 106 Google Scholar

Halliwell, Martin. Images of Idiocy. Burlington: Ashgate, 2004. Print. Images of Idiocy Google Scholar

Haraway, Donna. Modest_Witness@Second_Millenium.FemaleMan©Meets_OncoMouse TM . New York: Routledge, 1997. Print. Modest_Witness@Second_Millenium.FemaleMan©Meets_OncoMouse TM Google Scholar

Haraway, Donna. When Species Meet. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2008. Print. When Species Meet Google Scholar

Howe, Irving. “The Sound and the Fury.” William Faulkner: A Critical Study. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1975. 157–74. Print. The Sound and the Fury William Faulkner: A Critical Study 157 74 Google Scholar

Lippit, Akira Mizuta. Electric Animal: Toward a Rhetoric of Wildlife. Minneapolis: Minnesota UP, 2000. Print. Electric Animal: Toward a Rhetoric of Wildlife Google Scholar

McLaughlin, Sara. “Faulkner’s Faux Pas: Referring to Benjamin Compson as an Idiot.” Literature and Psychology 33.2 (1987): 34–40. Web. 15 Nov. 2014. Faulkner’s Faux Pas: Referring to Benjamin Compson as an Idiot Literature and Psychology 33.2 34 40 Google Scholar

Medoro, Dana. “‘Between Two Moons Balanced’: Menstruation and Narrative in The Sound and the Fury.” Mosaic 33.4 (2000): 91–114. Web. 15 Nov. 2014. ‘Between Two Moons Balanced’: Menstruation and Narrative in The Sound and the Fury The Sound and the Fury 33.4 91 114 Google Scholar

Michaels, Walter Benn. Our America. Durham: Duke UP, 1995. Print. Our America Google Scholar

Quayson, Ato. Aesthetic Nervousness. New York: Columbia UP, 2007. Print. Aesthetic Nervousness Google Scholar

Rapley, Mark. The Social Construction of Intellectual Disability. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2004. Print. The Social Construction of Intellectual Disability Google Scholar

Samuels, Ellen. Fantasies of Identification. New York: New York UP, 2014. Print. Fantasies of Identification Google Scholar

Samway, Patrick and Gentry Silver. “In The Sound and the Fury, Benjy Most Likely Suffers from Autism.” The Faulkner Journal of Japan 12 (2010). Web. 15 Nov. 2014. In The Sound and the Fury, Benjy Most Likely Suffers from Autism The Sound and the Fury 12 Google Scholar

Shukin, Nicole. Animal Capital. Minneapolis: Minnesota UP, 2009. Print. Animal Capital Google Scholar

Snyder, Sharon L. and David T. Mitchell. Cultural Locations of Disability. Chicago: Chicago UP, 2007. Print. Cultural Locations of Disability Google Scholar

Taussig, Michael. Mimesis and Alterity. New York: Routledge, 1993. Print. Mimesis and Alterity Google Scholar

Truchan-Tataryn, Maria. “Textual Abuse: Faulkner’s Benjy.” Journal of Medical Humanities 26.2/3 (2005): 159–73. Web. 4 Apr. 2016. Textual Abuse: Faulkner’s Benjy Journal of Medical Humanities 26.2/3 159 73 Google Scholar

Wainwright, Michael. Darwin and Faulkner’s Novels. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008. Print. Darwin and Faulkner’s Novels Google Scholar

Watson, Jay. “Genealogies of White Deviance.” Faulkner and Whiteness. Ed. Jay Watson. Jackson: Mississippi UP, 2011. Print. 19–55. Print. Genealogies of White Deviance Faulkner and Whiteness 19–55 Google Scholar

Wolfe, Cary. Animal Rites. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2003. Print. Animal Rites Google Scholar

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Oswald, David

Oswald, David