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Helen’s Formal Blog Post on Frankenstein (pt. 2)

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I continued for the remainder of the day in my hovel in a state of utter and stupid despair. My protectors had departed and had broken the only link that held me to the world. For the first time the feelings of revenge and hatred filled my bosom, and I did not strive to control them, but allowing myself to be borne away by the stream, I bent my mind towards injury and death. When I thought of my friends, of the mild voice of De Lacey, the gentle eyes of Agatha, and the exquisite beauty of the Arabian, these thoughts vanished and a gush of tears somewhat soothed me. But again when I reflected that they had spurned and deserted me, anger returned, a rage of anger, and unable to injure anything human, I turned my fury towards inanimate objects. As night advanced I placed a variety of combustibles around the cottage, and after having destroyed every vestige of cultivation in the garden, I waited with forced impatience until the moon had sunk to commence my operations.” (pg. 120)

In this passage from the beginning of chapter sixteen, Frankenstein’s Monster attempts to sever the ties that he has made to the world of “normal” humans by burning down the home of De Lacey and his children. This family, however inadvertently, has educated him in the ways of the world, and the Monster hopes that they will nurse feelings of affection and admiration for him: “…my heart yearned to be known and loved by these amiable creatures” (114). Because he is now an educated man, the Monster is able to blame his previous ill treatment at the hands of others upon his ignorance of the world and believes himself to be ready to reveal himself to the family who will undoubtedly welcome him with kindness once they understand him. The monster seems to feel certain that this family of outcasts, who made sure that “The poor that stopped at their door were never driven away” (114), would also receive him. Although he has been educated from books such as Plutarch’s Lives and Milton’s Paradise Lost and should therefore have understood that human beings are capable of good and evil thoughts and deeds, he idolizes this family to the point that he cannot allow himself to think that they might turn him away. Instead of realizing that there might be something wrong with the way the family judges him, the Monster blames himself and his perceived disability, just as society does. As a result, he, like Richard III, decides to live up to the negative expectations of others. The Monster turns to violence and revenge, qualities that he assumes are the dominion only of evil beings and not things to which humans generally seem to be prone, and blames his master, the creator of a disabled creature, for his actions. Like the Duke of Gloucester, the Monster exploits his disability in order to assert dominance over the people who judged him harshly.

Although the Monster, Frankenstein, and society see the Monster’s violent tendencies as another outward exhibition of his abnormality, part of which is his profound size and strength, his grief over his situation and his capacity for revenge are very human characteristics. The Monster feels what an “average” human being feels. He is highly intelligent and articulate, qualities that he uses to sway De Lacey at the end of chapter sixteen. The Monster’s ability to feel hurt and anguish draws sympathy from readers despite his actions, while the people affected by his wrath are unable to see any motivation for his murderous actions. For example, Frankenstein keeps referring to the Monster’s “wickedness” (126) as if it were within the Monster’s natural capacity, not something that he has been told is expected of him by the way others react to his presence. The Monster ends up, like the Duke of Gloucester, exploiting his image to get what he wants. For Gloucester, this means downplaying his wiliness by drawing attention to his disability and semblance of helplessness; the Monster, on the other hand, uses his superhuman strength to frighten and harm those closest to Frankenstein. By doing so, each character is able to exert a modicum of control over their situation, although they do so by catering to the misapprehensions of society.

Written by Helen

September 27th, 2010 at 12:33 am

Disability as Identity? Samuel Beardslee’s Class Summary for September 17, 2010

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After the double celebration of finding the dis/lit blog on the second page of the book of life held by the Internet god, Google, and the plans held by Dr. Foss for both that night and the following night, an occurrence that is rarer than the planetary conjunction of Jupiter, Saturn, and Krypton, our class focused our attention on The Deformed Transformed by Lord Bryon, and comparing that with Shakespeare’s Richard III.  More specifically, we looked in depth at both Arnold (as well as Caesar) and Richard III (Gloucester), the roles that they play in their respective dramas, and how they handle themselves with regard to their disability (which are both physical in nature).  What we would find is an interesting juxtaposition of how one mentally approaches disability in life.  Richard III, who is always aware of the social power that his disability can achieve, uses his disability for his own gains, while Arnold, jumping at the first chance to rid himself of the disability, never frees himself from the disabled mentality that he has grown into.  Ultimately, disability (in this case) proves to be more than just a bodily defect, the effects of which are entirely dependent on the person’s mentality.

To begin our comparison, the openings of both plays were compared and contrasted.  Our group  found, based on the set up of both of these characters and with the knowledge of the outcome of these characters, that, while Richard tries to rouse feelings of sympathy, Arnold succeeds in gaining our empathy for his condition.  This is achieved by his interactions with his mother, who treats him very poorly because of his disability.  Richard, on the other hand, stands alone and is appealing to the audience.  Whatever little sympathy we have for Richard at the beginning of the play is destroyed as his motives become clearer not only through his actions, but what he says as well.

Meanwhile, Arnold, who has every right to hate humanity due to their treatment of him, does become manipulative or evil despite this.  On the contrary, Arnold is manipulated by The Stranger/Caesar after his introduction into the drama, oddly enough taking Arnold’s crippled body for his own to use (fulfilling Arnold’s wish to escape his own body into a perfect one).  Both Caesar and Richard III are using their disabilities in a way that makes these deformities seem enabling as opposed to crippling.  The social boundary usually set around those with disabilities cannot hold back either of these powerful charismatic characters.  Arnold escapes the social boundary by gaining a perfect body, and is thus not bound by the social boundaries of the disabled by default.  However, even after obtaining this body and seemingly escaping that aspect of his life, Arnold does not hold the same zeal as either Richard or Caesar.  He is still disabled in his mind; he is held back by his own inhibitions surrounding a disability that he suddenly doesn’t have any more.  Perhaps this is a commentary on class status?  That only the upper classes can deal with disability in a way that is socially considered ‘normal’.  This idea doesn’t hold much ground considering Arnold’s position in society is not made very clear; he starts off in a rustic lifestyle, but is clearly educated.

Lord Byron never truly finished The Deformed Transformed, but it is still clear that the progression of events ultimately makes Arnold a less sympathetic character, while Caesar retains his character throughout, not letting the disability affect his personality.  Richard III achieves the same result, not letting his deformities get the best of him even in the midst of battle.  What does this mean?  Is disability simply a prop or a mask, as Richard and Caesar seem to use them as?  Perhaps the case could be made with those two characters, but in Arnold’s case, disability is a bit more than a prop, even though he thinks he discards it like one.  Arnold’s disability has ingrained itself in his personality, leading him to be a rather unassertive and “boring” character.  In a sense, the body that Arnold gains is simply an Avatar; his mindset has not changed despite the freedom from his disability.  Disability, in this sense, has much more bearing to be considered an identity as opposed to a mask; an inner aspect as well as, but not necessarily including, the outer.

In other words, one can still be “disabled” simply by one’s life experience.  Arnold was rejected and shunned by society, and thus grew in this unforgiving environment.  While Richard’s disability seemed to be a manifestation of his evil nature, Arnold’s personality is very much a product of his disability and how other treated him because of it.  Disability may be a mask, but this is a mask that affects different people in different ways.  This mask gave Richard III a sort of super-ability in society, while it suffocated and stunted Arnold.  In this light, how disability affects someone is dependent on many factors, including how one is raised, one’s personality, and several others, and cannot simply be deemed as “disposable” or “integral.”

Written by Spyden

September 22nd, 2010 at 12:39 pm

Helen’s Class Summary: September 20th, 2010

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Today’s class began with the great tragedy of the Blackboard reward quizzes: some, like the woeful author of this essay, neglected to take the Jane Eyre quiz until the hour before class, or, rather, the ten minutes before class started. When Dr. Foss attempted to reboot the closed quiz for our benefit, it rudely deleted itself. Amid cries of despair, Foss, with the kind of poise only accessible to people whose children are in school, promised to ask the illustrious Reverend Jim Groom about it, and said he would let us know when the quiz was once again available. Moving swiftly forward, we began our large group discussion about Bertha Mason and her portrayal in Jane Eyre; later, in small group, we talked of Rochester’s disability.  Our class discussion focused upon reading Bertha’s disability as an identity that dehumanizes her, as well Jane and Rochester’s reactions and relationship to Bertha; in small group, we concentrated upon the problematic way in which Rochester’s disability functions at the end of the novel.

To preface our discussion, Dr. Foss cited “The Madwoman in the Attic” a feminist article from the late 1970’s by Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar, which posits that, in Victorian literature, there is a temptation to portray female characters as either angels or villains. We used this idea to address the contrast between Bertha and Jane’s characters, and the way that disability may intersect well with Gilbert and Gubar’s feminist reading of this text. Bertha is portrayed as a dark, hulking, almost spectral figure with features so unspeakable that, in true Victorian fashion, they are left completely undescribed. Jane, dissimilarly, is pale, thin, and plain, a sensible and well brought-up young lady with whom Rochester has many illuminating conversations, while Bertha’s mind is described as “…common, low, narrow, and singularly incapable of being led to anything higher, expanded to anything larger…” (p. 324). Bertha is entirely dehumanized by Rochester, less worthy to him, even, than his dog, Pilot. Rochester’s first wife is reduced to the role of spectacle: when Jane stares at Bertha, Jane is reminded of how normal Jane herself is.

For all that Jane is “good, gifted, and lovely” (334) to Bertha’s “manic upstairs” (335), Jane and Bertha do have some characteristics and life experiences in common. Jane has numerous encounters with extended confinement in her childhood, like her near-incarceration in the red-room in chapter II of the novel, which haunts her well into her adult life, and her tenure at Lowood School, which was little more than a jail. Jane experiences anger in these situations that could be considered similar to Bertha’s fits of rage, and perhaps Jane understands Bertha all the better for her experiences with confinement. She certainly pities Bertha, and says to Rochester: “you are inexorable for that unfortunate lady; you speak of her with hate—with vindictive antipathy. It is cruel—she cannot help being mad.” (318). This raised another question in our discussion: does Bertha behave like a wild animal because it is a function of her disability, or is Bertha simply living up to the role of the madwoman in the attic that Rochester has prescribed for her? When we discussed Richard III, we asked ourselves a similar chicken-and-egg question about whether Gloucester was naturally evil, or if his physical disabilities forced him to take up the mantle of a cruel and ruthless man.

Rochester’s attitude toward Bertha seems to change after she has been officially labeled as “mad.” Despite numerous protestations that he does not despise his wife for being mad but rather for being wicked, he was faithfully married to Bertha until he discovered that something diagnosable was wrong with her. Rochester claims to be capable of great love, but not of great love for Bertha. Foss raised an interesting question: does Bertha actually lose her status as a human being when she, apparently, loses her mind? Rochester seems to relegate her to the status of mistress: on page 234, Rochester says, “To tell me that I had already a wife is empty mockery: you know now that I had but a hideous demon.” Bertha certainly suffers the contempt, then, that Rochester’s other mistresses do. The class was reminded of the treatment of the disabled during more medieval times, when property could be taken over by a lord or another property owner when the actual owner was deemed unfit to oversee their own land.

Before Rochester is blinded unwittingly by Bertha, he tries to seek for himself a kind of spousal prosthesis: he is emotionally crippled, and in Jane he sees the kind of person who could look after him and perhaps cure him of his less desirable character traits. Bertha, on the other hand, exacerbates his worst characteristics, and Rochester believes that his treatment of Bertha and his disregard for the sacrament of marriage are the reasons he is stricken, by God, with blindness. In our small groups we discussed the problematic nature of Rochester’s blindness being dealt to him by a judging God rather than simple accident: this kind of thinking holds all disabled people accountable for their disability, and presumes that they have some sort of character defect that manifests itself outwardly though disability. We talked about how this is a narrow and fearful reaction on the part of non-disabled people. If there is universal morality or a just God to punish disobedience or defectiveness, then disability is avoidable, and therefore explainable and less frightening.
Whether Bertha’s mental disability led her to behave like an animal or if Rochester’s treatment of her is to blame, she provokes very dissimilar, though illuminating, reactions from Jane and Rochester. Jane empathizes with and pities Bertha; Rochester sees her as little more than a nuisance, a burden that he knows to be beneath him. Jane blames the disability for her behavior, while Rochester is compelled to believe that a natural wickedness has left her in this condition. Indeed, Mr. Fairfax, upon becoming blind, blames defects in his character for his plight, rather than the woman who inadvertently inflicted the damage. The disabled people portrayed in Jane Eyre are judged and punished, Bertha through incarceration and Rochester through his blindness.

Written by Helen

September 21st, 2010 at 7:34 pm

“Nothing about us without us” – BBC Disability Website – “Ouch!”

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BBC News has a website that “reflects the lives and experiences of disabled people” with links to news and opinion articles, video content, music, and even a humor section by and/or about disabled people.

Upon first glance, however, the title of this site caught me off guard. The title? It’s “Ouch!”

What does “Ouch!” mean? Here’s an excerpt from the site’s conveniently labeled, “What is Ouch!?” tab:

Oooh, good question. We spent literally months trying to come up with a name that wasn’t too patronising. When the marketing team came up with “I dance to my own song” as a good idea for a name, we ran away from the meeting. We’re still on the run.

The site’s editor, Damon Rose, came up with the name Ouch! one morning in the shower. He says: “There’s an Ouch! moment when you become disabled or give birth to a disabled child. There’s an Ouch! moment when someone gets into the lift, catches the eye of a disabled person and then quickly looks away. There are many Ouch! moments when people just see disability as a problem, when in fact we’re part of the solution.”

Damon Rose has a very compelling point; this is a very good example of the concept, “Nothing about us without us.”


Written by Robert

September 20th, 2010 at 9:52 am

Matt Blakley’s Formal Blog Post #1: Disability & Passivity

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“If you did, it would be such in a grave, quiet manner, I should mistake it for sense. Do you never laugh, Miss Eyre? Don’t trouble yourself to answer — I see you laugh rarely; but you can laugh very merrily: believe me, you are not naturally austere, any more than I am naturally vicious. The Lowood constraint still clings to you somewhat; controlling your features, muffling your voice, and restricting your limbs; and you fear in the presence of a man and a brother — or father, or master, or what you will — to smile gaily, speak too freely, or move too quickly: but, in time, I think you will learn to be natural with me, as I find it impossible to be conventional with you; and then your looks and movements will have more vivacity and variety than they dare offer now. I see at intervals the glance of a curious sort of bird through the close-set bars of a cage: a vivid, restless, resolute captive is there, were it but free, it would soar cloud-high. . .” (162).

For me this passage was the most revealing regarding Jane, Rochester and their relationship/positioning as characters. Rochester depicts Jane’s actions as timid, fearful, or maybe even aloof, blaming this restraint on the Victorian social norms of gender superiority. He also discloses Jane’s emotional disabilities (here I’m offering that disability manifests itself in numerous ways within literature) or insecurities due to her social class/position. This sense of repressed insecurity coupled with her sanctioned social obedience creates an irrepressible desire for self-agency, something that I think Rochester is intrigued (turned on) by. Because of this desire for agency Rochester both sympathizes and empathizes with Jane, maybe indirectly seeing himself in her struggle– someone trying to rid themselves of guilt and expectation.

Using this particular scene merely as a starting point, I’d like to offer that Charlotte Bronte does a good job resisting the stereotypical and literary disability of the passive “hopeless romantic,” or the “lady-in-waiting” figure by inverting the passivity within Jane and Rochester’s relationship. Throughout the chapters we were assigned, the first half — before Bertha — Jane could be depicted as passive, much like a female’s eggs are depicted in some science books, and the second half — after Bertha — as a rejection of that passivity. I position Rochester here as a male’s sperm: active, dynamic, or fertile. Before Bertha is revealed, Rochester employs Jane, forcing her into a submissive or passive position where she is often just waiting for Rochester to tell her what to do, or in the scene I offer above, is summoned. Even once the two fall in love Jane still acts passive, especially about Rochester’s ambiguous past. In short, she is the passive one disabled by her submission to society.

Once Jane learns about Bertha, Bronte uses this as a breaking point for Jane to confront all the insecurities or pressures disabling her from her sense of success or happiness. She leaves Rochester and within the year’s absence, Jane confronts her society’s overt social norms of gender inequality and social class by developing self-agency and financial independence. Once she reunites with Rochester, he has become blind and the stereotypical egg statically awaiting its valiant sperm. Bronte has flipped the relationship’s dynamics, contrasting the social realities of the setting’s expected relationships. And ironically, Jane has rid herself of her “disabilities” while Rochester’s character developed one. I also find Rochester’s loss of sight ironic because in the passage above, as in most of the chapters, Rochester believes he is the one with the answers, that he is fertile, that he can see better and more clearly than Jane. However in the end it is with Jane he regains partial sight and lives what seems to be a fulfilled life.

My question(s) for you guys is/are (haha I’m starting to write like Foss): Do you think Jane is “disabled” by her society? If no, why? If yes, do you think this sense of disability further perpetuates the notion that disabilities are really just social constructs?

Written by Matthew

September 19th, 2010 at 6:12 pm

More disability in Richard the 3rd (And not just about Richard the 3rd)

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Hi everyone! I haven’t written for a while,and this may not be quite clear, but I want to take a stab out of this. I  really want to look at Act 1, scene 4 of Richard the 3rd, where Clarence is imprisoned in the tower, unaware that two men are about to murder him. They decide how they should kill him when Clarence wakes up, and pleads with the men not to kill him.

Cla. Not to relent, is beastly, sauage, diuellish:
My Friend, I spy some pitty in thy lookes:
O, if thine eye be not a Flatterer,
Come thou on my side, and intreate for mee,
A begging Prince, what begger pitties not
  2 Looke behinde you, my Lord
  1 Take that, and that, if all this will not do,
Stabs him.
Ile drowne you in the MalmeseyBut within.
 2 A bloody deed, and desperately dispatcht:
How faine (like Pilate) would I wash my hands
Of this most greeuous murther.

(Richard the Third, Act1, Scene 4)

I found this passage really interesting because when Clarence is about to be killed, he doesn’t believe that Richard was the one who sent the two men, and explained how loyal Richard was. Then, he degraded himself even more by comparing himself to a beggar, and then, the men killed him. Finally, one of the men told him to look the other way before he killed Clarence. I thought the man was saying it in a sympathetic way, because he knew he had to kill Clarence, but he didn’t want Clarence to see the violence he was about to commit. It’s like soothing a scared child so he’s not thinking about the shot the doctor has to give him.  Later on, Rivers is executed in another prison, and he and his relations did not say a whole lot before they die. Edward (the Prince of Wales), and his younger brother were killed in the tower. We don’t even hear what they said when they were killed.

To me,  I found a connection between the ones who are imprisoned in the play, with disabled people living in mental institutions (or other institutions for the disabled). Prisons have the same function. They separate and isolate people from society, and yes, can make some people lose their sanity. I think Shakespeare  reversed the role of disability by making the innocents the disabled. Yes, the innocents are technically notphysically disabled, but once environment is altered (putting them in prison and killing them), they do become disabled. The guard walking with Clarence to the tower at the beginning of the play represented one who was watching over someone who may be a potential harm to the King. Queen Elizabeth, Anne and the Duchess of York were forbidden to see the princes. As the play went on, the voices of these “innocent” characters decreased.  In a way, Richard became the nondisabled, killing off the innocent ones that he made disabled (by lies and manipulations).

What’s scary is that the characters really don’t have a say for their right to live. They’re murdered, just like that!  I connect it to the questions about whether it’s right to abort a disabled baby in a pregnacny screening or if it’s right to degrade someone based on their disability.

That’s how I thought about it, but what does everyone else think? Is Shakespeare really reversing roles to the innocent characters into disabled characters or not? Why do you think he is/is not doing it?

Written by library1288

September 14th, 2010 at 11:14 pm

Research & Terminology – Connotations, Implications, and Progress

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Mitchell and Snyder’s “Cultural Locations of Disability” raises many relevant points about the absence of disability rights/perspectives within the scientific and research fields. Mitchell and Snyder claim that “these professions [therapy, medical school, public health, etc.] have always imagined their commitment to disabled people as their primary value, and hearing that disabled people – particularly those in disability studies – do not necessarily share this sentiment often comes as a shock” (191-192) and that “disabled people have served as the relics of obscene curiosity disguised beneath the neutral veil of empirical inquiry” (193).

The latter claim, especially, made me reconsider the research terminology that I have learned/am learning in my psychological statistics and research methods courses. During my first week of statistics last semester, we discussed the “normal” distribution of scores around the mean score (“average” score) and other terms such as “standard deviation.” Until reading theory articles for dis/lit, the inherent connotations of these words were not evident to me, let alone their moral/ethical implications.

A normal distribution is a graphic representation of scores***. It looks an arch, with the peak representing a majority of the scores (this is the mean or average score.) The distribution is divided by standard deviations, which represent how far away a standardized score is from the mean. The implication of a “normal” distribution is that anything that falls too far from the mean (more than, say, two standard deviations) is abnormal. When conducting research and/or a statistical analysis, a scientist is only concerned with “statistically significant” scores that fall several standard deviations away from the mean; this statistical significance implies that the score and its subject are not part of the distribution, are abnormal, and are deviant.

“Standard deviation” is another troublesome term. The literal meaning regards a person’s score on a test and its position relevant to the average (mean) score. The connotation, as with “normal distribution,” implies unnatural, abnormal, or even socio-culturally unacceptable behavior or characteristics. To be deviant, in common speech, is a rather undesirable and stigmatized thing.

What, then, can we do? Before I offer a potential solution, I must highlight a few ways in which science and research, particularly psychology – or, at least, psychology at this university – is readjusting negative habits, traditions, and mindsets. When studying abnormal psychology (we’ll deal with this terminology later), my class discussed several progressive trends in the field. For example, a good deal of time was spent analyzing the now unethical treatment of patients in the past; discussing the stigma that surrounds psychological practitioners, scholars, and patients; and even the implication of the word “patient.” Some psychologists are now adopting the term “client” instead of “patient” to give more connotative power to the client-practitioner relationship. Equally as encouraging, if not a bit unrelated to my current topic, is the emerging field of cross-cultural psychology, which seeks to analyze the ways in which psychological practices in different cultures focus on, research, and handle issues in completely different ways.

Additionally, I think that research cannot be entirely dismissed, discredited, or disgraced. While research is inevitably biased and teeming with demeaning and dis-empowering terminology, it can be used to discover very beneficial information, therapies, as well as fuel for further theoretical debate.

Encouraging though it may be, the progress being made in the field of psychology leaves much to be desired. Even though reform is taking place among some academics, psychology and its related terminology still carry quite a large stigma in the United States. More work needs to be done to rethink and renew terminology, particularly research terminology such as “standard deviation” and “normal distribution,” to make research a more humane and less dis-empowering practice.

***Apologies, but I could not find an appropriate open-source image of a normal distribution to post with this topic. Google it Enjoy these photographs of the hummingbird that I rescued!***

Written by Robert

September 2nd, 2010 at 10:16 am

Syrian Soaps and Longmore’s Telethon Dilema (A revised post)

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Hey, y’all! While checking out the BBC News website this afternoon, I came across this video about Syrian soap operasthat are beginning to “confront taboos and spark debate.” Below is the site’s summary of the video.

Ramadan is a time for prayer and reflection but it is also the most popular season to unveil new TV dramas in the Middle East.

Syrian soaps have become popular across the region in recent years due to their realistic plots which have also caused controversy.

Religious leaders in Syria have already called for one soap to be banned this year due to its hard-hitting storyline.

Lina Sinjab reports from Damascus.

Surprisingly, one of the examples of soaps that confront taboos are two soap operas that “talk about people with special needs.” The interviewee adds, “We didn’t talk about that before.” The video isn’t solely concerned with disability topics; however it is interesting to note the context in which disability appears here. A description of the taboos says that  they are “difficult to touch” in a public setting. Other examples of taboos in soaps are gay characters or characters critical of radical Islam.

Thoughts? This reminds me of our readings about the history of disability, specifically Western disability, and how the topic was/is a taboo and was/is associated with other taboos such as sexuality, ideology, or religious dissent.

Also, I’m curious to see if the portrayal of “people with special needs” on these Syrian soap operas is cliche, realistic, or a mixture. Perhaps the answer is obvious; they are, after all, soap operas.

As a psych major with an interest in cross-cultural psych and stigma associated with psychology, this video really gave me a lot to ponder.

Have a great weekend! Guess I just confirmed my nerd status by posting on a Friday afternoon. ; )

**BELOW you’ll find additional thoughts that I had on this topic after reading Longmore’s “The Cultural Framing of Disability: Telethons as a Case Study.” I originally posted this as a comment (also below!)***

…after reading Longmore’s “The Cultural Framing of Disability: Telethons as a Case Study,” I would argue that representations of disability on soap operas are similar to those on telethons.

Specifically, these representations share Garland-Thompson’s sentiments that “…The dominant mode of looking at the disability in this culture is staring” (502). Staring is precisely what people do when watching these representations on television. This staring, as Garland-Thompson theorizes, carries a lot of weight and “constitut[es] the starer as normal and the object of the stare as different, it creates disability as a state of absolute difference, rather than as simply one more variation in human form” (502).

As stated in my original post and as evident in the news clip, the object – disability in our case – created as a state of absolute difference is similar to the other “taboos” mentioned in the video (homosexuality, etc.) Just as Longmore argues in his article, these representations are very problematic because television “seems to posses even more truth-value than photography” (504).

Just as concerning is Longmore’s argument that “live television seems to posses even more truth-value than photography” and that “the seeming veraciousness of television masks the extent to which the makers of live TV manufacture the ‘reality’ of the present” (504).

When soap operas or telethons are some of the only representations of disability in a culture, then there is a risk that the very conveyance of this topic (television media) can skew the reality of disability.

Any ideas for improvements?

Written by Robert

August 27th, 2010 at 4:29 pm