“Other” Characters: The Gendering and Racialization of “Disability” Within Newbery Award-Winning Books, 1922-2012

Authors

  • Adie Nelson
  • Veronica (Ronnie) Nelson

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.29173/cjfy27143

Abstract

Disability rights activists have long urged recognition of the import of cultural representations and their salience in the Othering process. Previous research on children’s picture books and novels has noted that persons with disabilities are commonly depicted in stereotypic and dehumanizing ways. This article explores the extent to which stereotypes of disability may be gendered and/or racialized by examining children’s books that won the American Library Association’s Newbery Medal between 1922-2012. It notes that the crafting of female and male characters with disabilities within these books pays homage to traditional gender roles, images and symbols and, most notably, reiterates an active-masculine/passive-feminine dichotomization. In addition, these representations suggest how racial essentialism is implicated in the production of “disability” within children’s literature, with non-white “racial” identity equated with various forms of impairment.

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Published

2016-01-27

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Section

Articles