Christopher KrentzAug 5, 2022
Disability and Human Rights in Postcolonial Literature
Temple University Press 2022
Dr. Christopher Krentz is an Associate Professor at the University of Virginia, where he has a joint appointment with the departments of English and American Sign Language. He is also the author of Writing Deafness: The Hearing Line in Nineteenth-Century American Literature and editor of A Mighty Change: An Anthology of Deaf American Writing, 1816–1864, as well as numerous articles about disability in literature and culture. He is currently director of the University of Virginia’s Disability Studies Initiative and helped found their American Sign Language Program.
Characters with disabilities are often overlooked in fiction, but many occupy central places in literature by celebrated authors like Chinua Achebe, Salman Rushdie, J. M. Coetzee, Anita Desai, Jhumpa Lahiri, Edwidge Danticat, and others. These authors deploy disability to do important cultural work, writes Christopher Krentz in his innovative study, Elusive Kinship: Disability and Human Rights in Postcolonial Literature (Temple UP, 2022). Such representations not only relate to the millions of disabled people in the Global South, but also make more vivid such issues as the effects of colonialism, global capitalism, racism and sexism, war, and environmental disaster.
Krentz is the first to put the fields of postcolonial studies, studies of human rights and literature, and literary disability in conversation with each other in a book-length study. He enhances our appreciation of key texts of Anglophone postcolonial literature of the Global South, including Things Fall Apart and Midnight’s Children. In addition, he uncovers the myriad ways fiction gains energy, vitality, and metaphoric force from characters with extraordinary bodies or minds.
Depicting injustices faced by characters with disabilities is vital to raising awareness and achieving human rights. Elusive Kinship nudges us toward a fuller understanding of disability worldwide.
Autumn Wilke works in higher education as an ADA coordinator and diversity officer and is also an author and doctoral candidate with research/topics related to disability and higher education.