Disability Tropes 101: The Lithium Kiss
Crafting characters / Disability Tropes 101 / mental health

Disability Tropes 101: The Lithium Kiss

Editor’s note: There’s still time to submit short stories to the Nothing Without Us anthology! Submissions close December 31, 2018. Read more about the submission guidelines here! And Derek’s Disability Tropes 101 series is great reference material to provide tips about what tropes to avoid!  One of the tropes of disability I have wanted to … Continue reading

Disability Tropes 101: Manipulative Sympathy
Disability Tropes 101 / Represention

Disability Tropes 101: Manipulative Sympathy

I recently watched the musical Wicked, and one scene particularly stood out to me as problematic. It tied into a few other problematic representations of disability that I have encountered in literature, film, and television. In Wicked: The Musical , the main character’s sister, Nessarose, is a wheelchair user. During the performance, she, at various … Continue reading

Disability Tropes 101: Overcoming
Crafting characters / Disability Tropes 101 / Represention

Disability Tropes 101: Overcoming

One of the most problematic tropes that is projected onto disabled people and our narratives is the trope of Overcoming. In these narratives, disabled people are able to “overcome” their disability (that is, become able-bodied) by working hard and pushing boundaries. Disability activist Eli Clare observes: “Overcoming bombards disabled people. It’s everywhere. I think of … Continue reading

Disability Tropes 101: The Outsider
Crafting characters / Disability Tropes 101 / Represention

Disability Tropes 101: The Outsider

Scholar Isabel Brittain brings attention to the trope of “The Outsider” in her article on “An Examination into the Portrayal of Deaf Characters and Deaf Issues in Picture Books for Children” (Disability Studies Quarterly 2004, Vol 24, No 1). In this trope, “the character with an impairment is portrayed as a figure of alienation and … Continue reading

Disability Tropes 101: Karmically Disabled
Crafting characters / Disability Tropes 101

Disability Tropes 101: Karmically Disabled

I recently finished watching Season 2 of Dirk Gently and have been reflecting on the huge number of problematic disability tropes in the show, particularly around the invented disability “Pararibulitis,” but for this post, I want to focus on one particular trope that frequently appears in representations of disability, what I call the Karmically Disabled Trope. In … Continue reading

Disability Tropes 101: “The Genius Cripple”
Crafting characters / Disability Tropes 101 / Represention

Disability Tropes 101: “The Genius Cripple”

The Genius Cripple trope is pronounced in representations of disability in popular media and is generally grounded in the idea of a mind-body dichotomy. The notion of the mind-body dichotomy assumes that the mind and body are distinct from one another. This dichotomy is traced back to the philosopher Descartes, who suggested a distinction between … Continue reading