French & Italian, College of Liberal Arts
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
IAS Faculty Fellow, Spring 2021
The Body Perfect: the Aesthetics of Ableism in the Francophone Early Modern World
While we might think we know what “disability” is, how can we define an able body? Why and how were the assumptions and stereotypes around able-bodiedness formed? In disability studies, “ableism” is discrimination in favor of able-bodiedness (both mental and physical). At the IAS this semester, I am working on my second book in progress, The Body Perfect: the Aesthetics of Ableism in the Francophone Early Modern World. I explore how the histories of French Atlantic slavery and colonialism and the history of ableism came to be intertwined. I originally intended to examine an eclectic constellation of early modern objects (from architecture, ballets, fairy tales, sign language, and more) that contributed to the conception of “normal” bodymind. However, because of pandemic-related archive closures, I am working on thinking outside the box to explore other pathways to understand how able bodiedness and disability became—crucially—racialized and gendered in the early modern period.
This series features an IAS Residential Fellow—a Faculty Fellow, Interdisciplinary Doctoral Fellow, or Community of Scholars Fellow. Each profile is written by the participant as a way to share their projects, goals, and experiences as part of their time at the IAS.