CU's Lit Club Presents:
English & Disability Studies:
A double lecture and crossdisciplinary dialogue

Friday, April 2, 5pm
Eaton Humanities Room 250
Reception to follow
Free and open to the public

“That Girl is Poison: Gurlesque, Girl Culture, Demons, and Tulle”
Danielle Pafunda

“Precious Bodies: Multiple Lenses of Viewing Precious Jones”
Michelle Jarman

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Bios and Abstracts

Danielle Pafunda is the author of four collections of poetry: Iatrogenic: Their Testimonies (Noemi Press), My Zorba (Bloof Books), Pretty Young Thing (Soft Skull Press), and the forthcoming Manhater (Dusie Press Books). Her work has been anthologized in three editions of Best American Poetry, the Fence anthology Not For Mothers Only, and most recently in Gurlesque: The New Grrly, Grotesque, Burlesque Poetics. She was editor of the online journal La Petite Zine from 2002-2009, and currently curates poetics forums at the feminist literary blog Delirious Hem. She is an assistant professor at the University of Wyoming in English and Women's and Gender Studies.

Mini Abstract: “That Girl is Poison: Gurlesque, Girl Culture, Demons, and Tulle”
The girl attracts and repulses. She buys what we sell her, and we hate her for it. Even among feminists, girl can be a dirty word, girl culture can be suspect. In psychological, medical, and theoretical discourse, from Clarissa to Bella Swan girl bodies appear targets for violation and possession, girlhood a disease we must outgrow. Examining gurlesque poetry tactics, stories of possession, and the relationship between cuteness and violence, I'll unearth the ways in which we’ve demonized the teenage girl, and speculate: what might happen if, rather than overcoming girlhood, we embraced it.

Michelle Jarman is Assistant Professor of Disability Studies at the University of Wyoming. Jarman’s essays appeared or are forthcoming in journals such as MELUS, Disability and Society and Review of Disability Studies. Her work is also included in the forthcoming anthologies "The Inside Light": New Critical Essays on Zora Neale Hurston (Praeger), Sex and Disability (Duke UP), and Blackness and Disability: Critical Examinations, Cultural Interventions (CAAR). Her current book project traces eugenic discourse in the U.S. through key modernist and Harlem Renaissance texts to frame a more contemporary analysis of literary and cultural constructions of whiteness/blackness as they intersect with constructions of dis/ability.

Mini Abstract: “Precious Bodies: Multiple Lenses of Viewing Precious Jones”
Through an analysis of Lee Daniels’ award winning film Precious, based upon Sapphire’s 1996 novel Push, I investigate how the body of Precious Jones (and actress Gabourey Sidibe) has been visually presented and culturally read. As an overweight, dark-skinned African-American, teenage mother, Precious’ embodiment is highly gendered and raced. At the same time, she is pathologized—by poverty, abuse, illiteracy, obesity, HIV, and a child with Down syndrome—a combination of forces that effectively haunt her figure with disability. For this reason, I foreground this discussion of non-normative embodiment with a disability analysis, to present how this perspective complicates key tensions in the film such as object vs. subject status, visibility vs. invisibility, and social resistance vs. inspirational narrative of personal overcoming.