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Robert’s Formal Post on Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”

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We do not typically think of “endearing” Tiny Tim as a cyborg. This, however, makes for an interesting and thought provoking comparison. In “Disability in Theory: From Social Constructionism to the New Realism of the New Body,”  Tobin Siebers quotes Donna Harroway’s definition of cyborgs as “a hybrid of machine and organism” (178). Siebers argues that Harroway’s theory means “our cyborgs are people with disabilities” (178). Tiny Tim’s “active little crutch” (58), limb “in an iron cage”, and his father’s substitution as “Tim’s blood horse” (57) are useful tools that create what Harroway calls “power charged communication” (178). In A Christmas Carol, the “power charged communication” rests almost solely within Tiny Tim and his disability and his/its effect on the miserly Scrooge. Tiny Tim provides a moral conviction for Scrooge, one that ultimately brings about a change of heart in the frigid and miserable man.

Without his disability – or, more specifically, the prosthetic devices involved – Tiny Tim would have no “power charged communication” to affect Scrooge’s black heart. If Tiny Tim and his disability had not affected Scrooge so deeply, then Scrooge would not have “hung his head to hear his own words [about decreasing the surplus population] quoted by the Spirit” or have been “overcome with penitence and grief” (60). Without the hybridization of host and machine – in this case, Tiny Tim and his crutch(es) –Scrooge would have been doomed to an eternity in chains, Tiny Tim’s crutch would have set motionless by the wall, the Cratchits would not have gotten their Christmas Turkey, and we would have been left with no warm and fuzzy Christmas story.

Written by Robert

September 21st, 2010 at 11:11 pm

awfully queer, wouldn’t you say?

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On the very day we were discussing readings by Siebers and McRuer, and trying to find a better e-text of Richard III for next class, who should post to the DS-HUM listserv inquiring about bibliographies on Shakespeare and disability but Tobin Siebers!  And who should reply but Robert McRuer!!  Here’s his post:

 HI Tobin, Marcy, and all…

I am certainly not a Shakespeare specialist in any way!  However, I do have
a piece coming out in the Duke UP volume called (I believe) Shakesqueer:
Queer Theorists Read Shakespeare, edited by Madhavi Menon.  Although
Shakespeareans and early modern studies folks are part of the project,
largely it is intended as a book written by non-specialists: she assigned
every Shakespeare play (and the sonnets) to one queer theorist and we were
invited to write a very brief essay from whatever perspective we brought to
the play, with transtemporal and interdisciplinary thinking encouraged.  I
agreed to participate on the condition that I could have Richard III. So,
there’s an essay in that volume, coming out in January, I think.  the piece
is called “Fuck the Disabled: The Prequel.”


Also, here’s a link to a piece on R3 from one of the numbers of Disability Studies Quarterly last year, entitled “Enabling Richard: The Rhetoric of Disability in Richard III“, part of a special section on Disabled Shakespeares

Written by cfoss

September 10th, 2010 at 8:52 pm


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In the Tobin-Siebers article assigned for today, Tobin/Siebers offers:

“Some theorists have gone so far as to argue that pain remaps the body’s erotic sites, redistributing the erogenous zones, breaking up the monopoly of the genitals, and smashing the repressive and aggressive edifice of the ego” (177).

Does someone want to tackle this for me? I’m having trouble grasping what this is supposed to mean.

Written by Matthew

September 10th, 2010 at 10:51 am

Posted in disability and theory

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