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Richard III thru Gen/Sex/Disability Lenses's picture

I want to do more commenting on other people's posts soon (I am reading them all!), but since we are figuring out paper topics this week I wanted to start thinking through ideas I want to focus on for that.

I would like to investigate the ways in which some of the theories of gender/sexuality/disability we've engaged with can be applied to the character of Richard in Shakespeare's Richard III. In the introduction to the "Mad at School" reading for this week, Price makes reference to fictional characters with mental illnesses, specifically "Sherlock Holmes, whose meticulous attention to detail as been suggested to indicate Asperger's syndrome" (Price 2). While I have no intention of forming a "diagnosis" of Richard, he is clearly posited in the text as a physically disabled person (hunchback) and potentially shows, through his actions (killing off pretty much everyone), one kind of mental "instability" Price also discusses. Richard frames his desexualization-due-to-disability in his opening speech, and much of the play seems like a struggle he wouldn't be undertaking were he just able to succeed romantically. His character might be seen as a supercrip as well (tying in Clare) - defying all odds to become King, despite being scorned and shunned from society. In the movie version we watched (with Ian McKellan), there were also some clear homosexual undertones, though I'm not sure this comes through in the text quite enough for me to make reference to it. While I certainly need to be careful about anachronicity (a lot of our society's fundamental assumptions about normality, bodies, dis(ability), sex(uality), etc might not hold true in Shakespeare's time), I think that working through some of the theories we've discussed using a concrete (if fictional) character will be useful. In addition, the fact that Richard III is an character in a play will likely provide interesting insights into notions of performativity, and the "acting" we all do in our daily lives to try to embody different versions of ourselves and whichever identities we choose/are assigned. I'm excited to talk to Anne about these ideas and make them a little more concrete before I dive in with my analysis.

If you want to know more about the play, here's the Wikipedia entry for it: