Figuring Disability and Illness: D. H. Lawrence’s Masculine Somatology

Butler, Kathryn (2022) Figuring Disability and Illness: D. H. Lawrence’s Masculine Somatology. Masters thesis, University of Wales Trinity Saint David.

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This thesis seeks to situate D. H. Lawrence as a disabled writer and to understand his writing of the male body from both a social model of disability and a biographical perspective. In so doing, the thesis contributes a fresh approach to Lawrence studies while at the same time fostering critical and creative reflections on the relatively new field of literary disability studies. Chapter 1 considers the relevant debates and developments within the field. Drawing on Lawrence’s letters, various biographies and the novel Kangaroo, Chapter 2 examines his 1911 health crisis, and the military and border examinations he was forced to undergo. Lawrence’s response to his health, widely portrayed as ‘irrational’ and ‘medicophobic’, is here understood in terms of ‘passing’ and ‘masquerade’ and the need to manage the public relations of his health status for pragmatic reasons. In Chapter 3, a selection of non-fictional texts are considered in order to trace the development of Lawrence’s mind-body philosophy focusing particularly on his assimilation of theosophical interpretations of Tantric Yoga. This exploration prepares the ground for an analysis of Lady Chatterley’s Lover in Chapter 4, in which the novel is read within the context of Lawrence’s personal circumstances at the time and his engagement with Yoga. Both Mellors and Clifford’s bodily topographies are mapped-out and the origins of their psycho-somatic wounds excavated to reveal Lawrence’s masculine somatotypes. This investigation reveals the significance of visible and invisible disabilities in Lawrence’s Tantric body schema while the hostile narration of Clifford acts as a point of ‘aesthetic nervousness’ within the novel. Finally, the tensions inherent in attempting to examine psychological aspects of illness from a critical disability perspective emerge. Lacking a language of personal illness experience, disability theory is forced to draw on psychological concepts that may further stigmatise. Dialogue with other body and psychological theories is required in order to cultivate more nuanced disability readings of texts, in which personal narratives and socio-historical perspectives can correspond.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords: D. H. Lawrence, disability, masculinity, tuberculosis, paraplegia, neurasthenia.
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Divisions: Theses and Dissertations > Masters Dissertations
Depositing User: Kate Butler
Date Deposited: 18 Jan 2023 14:29
Last Modified: 18 Jan 2023 14:38

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