Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies

Disability on Trial

Complex Realities Staged for Courtroom Drama—The Case of Jodi Picoult

Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies (2012), 6, (2), 209–225.

Abstract

Bestselling author Jodi Picoult draws upon extreme, emotional human drama to craft sentimental, even melodramatic plotlines that almost always revolve around a courtroom trial. Often inspired by true stories, her topics explore complex ethical questions around dying, abandonment, abuse, high school shootings, and not surprisingly, illness and disability. The article considers three of Picoult's novels, My Sister's Keeper (2004), Handle with Care (2009), and House Rules (2010), to contrast the author's realistic depictions of familial and individual experiences of disability with the melodramatic frames girding these stories. Drawing upon recent work in disability studies scholarship, the suggestion is that Picoult at times pushes the boundaries of disability representation beyond the traditional binaries of medical versus social, toward a "rhizomatic model" of disability. Simultaneously, however, these popular novels resolidify the "problem" of disability as personal and familial, and reflect a deep cultural ambivalence—between a growing awareness and understanding of disability rights, from one perspective, and a haunting fear which illness and disability continue to evoke in an ableist culture.

Access Token
£25.00
If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

"Andy in C Minor." Cold Case. CBS. 30 March 2008. Television. Google Scholar

Cassuto, Leonard. Hard-Boiled Sentimentality: The Secret History of American Crime Stories. New York: Columbia UP, 2009. Print. Hard-Boiled Sentimentality: The Secret History of American Crime Stories Google Scholar

Deleuze, Gilles, and Félix Guattari. A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1987. Print. A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia Google Scholar

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

Hacking, Ian. "Autism Fiction: A Mirror of an Internet Decade?" University of Toronto Quarterly 79.2 (2010): 632-55. Project Muse. Web. 6 January 2011. Autism Fiction: A Mirror of an Internet Decade? University of Toronto Quarterly 79 632 55 Google Scholar

Kuppers, Petra. "Toward a Rhizomatic Model of Disability: Poetry, Performance, and Touch." Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies 3.3 (2009): 221-40. Project Muse. Web. 10 December 2010. Toward a Rhizomatic Model of Disability: Poetry, Performance, and Touch Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies 3 221 40 Google Scholar

Landsman, Gail Heidi. Reconstructing Motherhood and Disability in the Age of "Perfect" Babies. New York: Routledge, 2009. Print. Reconstructing Motherhood and Disability in the Age of "Perfect" Babies Google Scholar

Mills, Samantha. "My Sister's Keeper Film Similar to Real Life Story." The Leukemia Lymphoma Society Blog. 20 July 2009. Web. 10 January 2011. My Sister's Keeper Film Similar to Real Life Story The Leukemia Lymphoma Society Blog Google Scholar

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

Picoult, Jodi. My Sister's Keeper. New York: Washington Square P, 2004. Print. My Sister's Keeper Google Scholar

Picoult, Jodi. Handle with Care. New York: Washington Square P, 2009. Print. Handle with Care Google Scholar

Picoult, Jodi. House Rules. New York: Washington Square P, 2010. Print. House Rules Google Scholar

"Reality Bites." Law and Order. NBC. 16 October 2009. Television. Google Scholar

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

Snyder, Sharon L., and David T. Mitchell. "Body Genres: An Anatomy of Disability in Film." The Problem Body: Projecting Disability on Film. Ed. Sally Chivers and Nicole Markotic. Columbus: Ohio State UP, 2010. 179-204. Print. The Problem Body: Projecting Disability on Film 179 204 Google Scholar

If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Details

Author details

Jarman, Michelle