Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies

"What He Found Not Monsters, He Made So": The I-word and The Bathos of Exclusion

Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies (2008), 2, (1), 11–21.

Abstract

Using the concept of bathos, the essay interrogates a late 2004 installment of Rall, a left-leaning cartoon strip that for political reasons reinscribes the alterity of people with learning disabilities. The trope Rall uses of ascribing mental defect to political opponents is examined and traced back to the Restoration. Contrasting the writings of the royalist Thomas Willis and the Whig John Locke with regard to their analyses of mental disability, the essay argues that political developments in the late-seventeenth century necessitated the formation of a category of not-quite human entities designated by the word idiots.

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Gabbard, D. Christopher