Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies

"Eloquent Limbs": D.H. Lawrence and the Aesthetics of Disability

Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies (2011), 5, (1), 35–52.

Abstract

The article considers the relationship between disability and modernist poetics, with a specific focus on the concept of physical difference in D.H. Lawrence's poetry. It traces the evolution of Lawrence's belief in the unmatched artistic potential of non-normative forms, poetic and otherwise; it expands upon the familiar story of Lawrence's own disability narrative; and, most significantly, it questions entrenched assumptions about the types of bodies that predominate in his writing. Utilizing a methodology that combines Disability Studies with a historicist approach to modernism, the article examines both Lawrence's poetry and his voluminous writings about poetry, and it proffers a range of close readings that confirm his interest in disabled bodies. When considered in aggregate, such readings suggest that Lawrence creates a proto-disability movement in verse, a movement wherein defects enable identification and social dissent; they also indicate that disability is fundamental to Lawrence's vision of literary form.

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Popp, Valerie