Joshua B. Bennett

Andrew W. Mellon Undergraduate Fellow in the Humanities

20092010 Forum on Connections

Joshua B. Bennett

Africana Studies, English

College '10


(Crip)Walking on Water: Re-reading Disability in African American Culture

My research project is interested in the presence of the disabled figure within post-Emancipation era African American literature, film and performance. Through the use of postmodern literary theory, I offer alternative readings of the meaning and broader symbolic significance of the disabled body in these various forms of cultural production. My goal is to challenge traditional readings of these characters that not only buy into problematic notions of subjectivity, but that also limit our potential as readers to gain a deeper understanding of these texts as a whole. I am fundamentally concerned with the ways in which these characters destabilize, defamiliarize, and ultimately transform our approach to thinking about the boundaries of narrative and identity; how they force the reader to re-conceptualize what it means to be fully human, and ultimately usher them into a much more complex way of thinking about race, gender, class and disability.