PhD Ceremony Andries Hiskes — Disability and its Affective Affordances: Deformity, Decay, Disruption, Distortion

Tuesday 16 April 2024, 10:00-10:45 | Academy Building, Leiden

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This dissertation explores the ways in which affective responses to disabled bodies are represented and how this invites us to read these bodies aesthetically. I argue that this affective impact can be understood as an affordance, a term I use to describe how the appearance of and interaction with disabled bodies produces affective responses such as fear, wonder, or disgust. I study the relationship between representation and affective reactions through literature and other art forms. Through close readings of literary texts and works of art, this dissertation offers an alternative to so-called model thinking—an approach that emphasizes categorization. Instead, I propose a reading that focuses on how bodily capacities are culturally and socially translated into (dis)abilities. Unlike taxonomic approaches that categorize and generalize, this method allows moving from the particular to the private. Works of art, although prone to generalization, emphasize their unicity and resist categorization. By analyzing how different art forms represent disabled bodies, the dissertation brings a new dimension to understanding our emotional responses and the aesthetic appreciation of bodily diversity.

NB: This is a public PhD Ceremony. Should you be interested in attending in person, please sign up via this form before March 26th.