Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies

Battles on the Body: Disability, Interpreting Dramatic Literature, and the Case of Lynn Nottage's Ruined

Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies (2011), 5, (1), 1–15.

Abstract

Disability Studies has made significant inroads in theorizing literary representation and analyzing performance from within disability culture. Yet there is a dearth of Disability Studies work exploring canonical drama by moving beyond looking for realistic or progressive depictions of extraordinary bodies. Using Lynn Nottage's 2009 play Ruined as a case study, the article argues why examining "traditional" drama (as opposed to that coming from within disability culture) helps advance the project of Disability Studies as it moves to understand disability representation in a more nuanced manner. Theatre Studies can be likewise invigorated; whereas the ending of Ruined seems to undermine the play's feminist and postcolonial politics, exploring the presence of disability in the work complicates, reclaims, and deepens our understanding of its activism. Ultimately, this reveals a new and important way to understand more fully Nottage's work, and suggests why interpreting dramatic literature from a Disability Studies perspective is essential for critics, readers, and audience members of all kinds.

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Fox, Ann