Fragmented Bodies and Stories of Becoming: A Literary-Anthropological Study
This research project aims to examine the possibilities of an alternative and life-affirming making of meaning by and for people who have been traditionally viewed as disabled. It aims to trace and understand the emergence of new and empowering subjectivities and identities and the opportunities that these offer for the development of an affirmative positionality towards disability, life, and death. The corpus of my research will be comprised of three cases, three works of art by three female artists who employ an avant-gardist, provocative, and radically feminist approach in terms of both content and form. These are: Shelley Jackson’s hypertext fiction Patchwork Girl; or, a Female Monster, Linda Dement’s video art/fiction Cyberflesh Girlmonster, and Kathy Acker’s book Eurydice in the Underworld. Through these works, the reader/viewer is confronted with such possible realities as female bodies and selves that do not compose a closed, complete, and self-sufficient unit, but are parts of bigger networks of life; which do not pose as independent and integral entities, but acknowledge and relish their dependency and fragmentation. The narratives of these three works will be explored together with theories of the posthuman, the cyborg, and the Deleuzian concept of becoming, as well as contributions from the fields of Crip/Queer Theory, Critical Disability Studies, Literary Studies, and Feminist Studies. The inquiry will be conducted with a view to understanding what these three artistic visions communicate in terms of female fragmentation and becoming, and how what they propose can effect a positive change in the social imaginary when it comes to disability, and to our conception of a valuable life and of dying.