Disability Studies and SF

Wednesday, 15 June 2011 23:53

An excerpt from the Conclusion of my thesis that explains why I want to study representations of disability in SF:

In addition to advocating for more attention to be devoted to reading race in SF, I feel that addressing issues of disability and the suffering body as depicted in SF narratives (feminist or otherwise) is also pressing. As the pace of advancements in prosthetic and other computerized assisted-living technologies quickens, we, as a culture, find ourselves faced with new possibilities for disabled bodies and embodiments. As I have always been interested in disability studies, it is a regret that I did not better engage with theories of disability and the technologically enabled body in this thesis. My own experience with chronic illness and pain has deepened my interest in this line of inquiry, but I also believe that there is a need within the SF community itself to engage with more images of disability.

During my participation at The 67th World Science Fiction Convention (WorldCon) in August 2009, I attended a panel discussion of disability in SF: the room was absolutely packed with people, most of whom identified as disabled. Throughout the hour, people shared their stories of identifying with specific disabled (or bodily limited) characters and insightfully critiqued the technologies imagined within these SF scenarios. I found the communal desire to discuss disability, as it is represented in SF, overwhelming. I would encourage academics working in the field of SF criticism to pay closer attention to the representation of disability in SF narratives (particularly in terms of reimagining the possibility of transcendence from the suffering body), as the SF community has demonstrated its eagerness to engage with the material and it offers a rich site of investigation into questions of embodiment and identity.

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