Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies

Science Fiction’s Imagined Futures and Powerful Protests: The Ethics of “Curing” Deafness in Ted Evans’s The End and Donna Williams’s “When the Dead Are Cured”

Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies (2020), 14, (4), 469–485.


Contemporary Deaf literature and film of the science fiction (SF) genre such as Ted Evans’s The End and Donna Williams’s “When the Dead are Cured” imagine worlds where Sign Language Peoples (SLPs) are threatened with eradication. Employing schema criticism, the article shows how these social SF stories have the potential to transform harmful cognitive schemas that perpetuate eugenic drives, explaining how certain cognitive schemas uphold beliefs inherent to the ideology of ability (Bracher 2013; Siebers 2008). These SF texts question the ethics of genetic engineering and the desire to “cure” deafness; the intersection of disability and SF results in a subgenre of protest literature. Each protest story depicts eugenic ideologies that instantiate real-world SLPs’ activist claims to human and group rights. Further, these depictions of eugenic drives enable the activation of cognitive schemas that work against social injustices. SF as a mode of thought thus supports real-life protest against the state.

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Author details

Mazique, Rachel