Date

5-1-2020

Description

Analyses of gender in Alexander Pope's Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot have focused on the relationship between the invocation of traditionalist gender roles and the occupation of those roles by the male speaker, ostensibly Pope himself. Further discussions of Pope's disabled body and his inability to occupy eighteenth century ideals of masculinity which follows, have thus far largely been limited to the disabled body as a mark of weakness, and thus femininity (Fabricant, 1997). Yet Pope does not accept the social position of deformed, or his membership within the emergent disabled class, as a feminizing force alone. Pope's relationship to gender ambiguity and socially conservative gender ideology may be understood with far greater depth only through examining Pope's depictions of disabled and sick bodies, both others' and his own, and the complex intersections of the social positions of womanhood and of deformity, disability, and illness in the long eighteenth century. Beginning from the work of Helen Deutsch in her Resemblance and Disgrace: Alexander Pope and the Deformation of Culture, this paper argues that a reanalysis of Pope's Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot through the lens of feminist disability studies is not only essential to our understanding of the poem itself, but also it is necessary for understanding the interrelationship between disabled bodies and women's bodies as it existed then, and thus as it exists today.

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May 1st, 12:00 AM

Constructing the Body of the Author: Representations of Femininity and Disability in Pope's Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot

Analyses of gender in Alexander Pope's Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot have focused on the relationship between the invocation of traditionalist gender roles and the occupation of those roles by the male speaker, ostensibly Pope himself. Further discussions of Pope's disabled body and his inability to occupy eighteenth century ideals of masculinity which follows, have thus far largely been limited to the disabled body as a mark of weakness, and thus femininity (Fabricant, 1997). Yet Pope does not accept the social position of deformed, or his membership within the emergent disabled class, as a feminizing force alone. Pope's relationship to gender ambiguity and socially conservative gender ideology may be understood with far greater depth only through examining Pope's depictions of disabled and sick bodies, both others' and his own, and the complex intersections of the social positions of womanhood and of deformity, disability, and illness in the long eighteenth century. Beginning from the work of Helen Deutsch in her Resemblance and Disgrace: Alexander Pope and the Deformation of Culture, this paper argues that a reanalysis of Pope's Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot through the lens of feminist disability studies is not only essential to our understanding of the poem itself, but also it is necessary for understanding the interrelationship between disabled bodies and women's bodies as it existed then, and thus as it exists today.