October 23, 2013 (First Meeting)

At the first meeting of the Kerouac Krew, I (Andrew Sydlik) met with colleagues Matt Connolly and Ayendy Bonifacio to discuss a paper I’m working on for my portfolio project at The Ohio State University. The paper explores the intersections of disability, race, and gender in two nineteenth-century African American texts: Frances Ellen Watkins Harper’s novel Iola Leroy (1892) and Katherine Davis Chapman Tillman’s novella Beryl Weston’s Ambition. I seek to bring together literary Disability Studies and Black/African American Studies because not much work has connected theorizations of disability and race, especially in regards to texts by nineteenth-century African American authors. Developed from a seminar paper done for Adeleke Adeeko’s 6757 African American Literature: 1746-1900 course in fall 2012, my investigation looks at how each text’s version of the “racial uplift” narrative reflects African American attitudes toward disability, scientific racism, gender stereotypes, and white middle class norms at the end of the nineteenth century. As this is a 34-page paper, we were only able to discuss the intro section, the first 10-12 pages, which describes the need to bring together Disability Studies and Black Studies, and some possibilities for doing so in a literary context.

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