Date of Award

Summer 8-2016

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis



First Advisor

Martina Sciolino

Advisor Department



This project explored the representation of physical disability in modern fiction with the hope to prove that disabled characters are receiving more complex and complete treatment in fiction as a reflection of social change, progress that is also supported by the growing field of disability scholarship. I will explore how two contemporary novels depart from older conventions of representing the disabled as static symbols of good or evil or as broken persons who need to be fixed. Scholars in both English and Disability Studies have commented on these problems, and their insights informed my argument.

Furthermore, I will explore the implications of disability in a global context through reference to two novels, Animal's People and Geek Love, as well as insights from studies on physical disability in fiction. I looked specifically at differences and similarities in how the two authors shape their stories and how they incorporate disability into their novels. The causes of these disabilities are also important, and their discussion will foreground the ethical frameworks for both novels. Through analysis and comparison of two novels, as well as a review of literary scholarship that takes the representation of visible disability as a focus, this study hopes to prove that physical disability is finally beginning to receive fair and significant treatment from fiction authors, and that this modern treatment addresses not only the personal ramifications of disability, but trans-cultural aspects as well.