Redefining Boundaries and Extending Horizons
Edited By Shridevi Rao and Maya Kalyanpur
Chapter 11: Disability and Modernity: Bringing Disability Studies to Literary Research in India
How do we find disability in Indian literary texts? Disability studies have begun to murmur in the corridors of English departments or schools of humanities in India and the result is a large-scale hunt for disability in literary texts. Small streams of graduate students and researchers find themselves tied up in knots trying to identify, classify and qualify texts from the canon of Indian writing in English as having elements of disability or of being worthy of examination from a disability studies perspective. Many like to think what they’ve taken on is a worthy but difficult task and hope of being lauded for the very attempt they have made to bring “fresh” disability studies style thinking to “same old” English studies. While the search is underway, sometimes fruitful, at most times confusing, I want to take up for consideration this very question that has come to haunt our younger researchers. How do we engage with this convergence of disability studies and English studies in the Indian context?
Two tropes of existing enquiry come to mind. One is the wide range of research studies that have emerged when erstwhile English studies scholars study representation, discourse and characterization of disability in literary texts (Bolt, 2003; Couser, 2002; Davis, 1995; Mitchell & Snyder, 2003; Siebers, 2002; Thomson, 1997). The second is the host of studies that have reflected on the globalization or universalization of disability as a category as well as of disability studies as a line of academic inquiry that...
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