Electronic Theses and Dissertations



Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Committee Chair

Gene Plunka

Committee Member

Ladrica Menson-Furr

Committee Member

Carey Mickalites

Committee Member

Stephen Tabachnick


This dissertation examines the portrayal of physically disabled characters in dramatic literature over the course of the late nineteenth through the twentieth into the twenty-first century. My core argument is that performance art, sideshows, and theatre are safe means by which people have been able to look fixedly at those who are different. Additionally, this project will address the historical context of certain plays productions and how our evolving understanding of, representations of, and conceptions about those who are different change over time. Theatre allows individuals to be seen and to see; thus, by utilizing the core concepts and ideas already associated by scholars to describe physically disabled characters in literature and film, my intention is to broaden the scope of analysis by taking the terminology out of the reductive, culturally pervasive stereotypes of the disabled in order to show how these plays portraying physically disabled characters need not be confined to one particular stereotype. By taking into consideration not just the character, but the content, history, production, mise-en-scne of certain plays, we may see how these physically disabled characters shift from material metaphor, as Mitchell and Snyder suggest, to active agents. By studying these characters and plays within a set of modelsfinancial, moral, medical, and identitythe conversation can shift where some of these characters no longer are passive, helpless victims of disability but are representations of characters that happen to be physically disabled.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to ProQuest