Horrible Heroes: Liberating Alternative Visions of Disability in Horror

Melinda Hall


Understanding disability requires understanding its social construction, and social construction can be read in cultural products. In this essay, I look to one major locus for images of persons with disabilities—horror. Horror films and fiction use disability imagery to create and augment horror. I first situate my understanding of disability imagery in the horror genre using a case study read through the work of Julia Kristeva. But, I go on to argue that trademark moves in the horror genre, which typically support ableist assumptions, can be used to subvert ableism and open space for alternative social and political thinking about disability. I point to the work of Tim Burton and Stephen King to demonstrate these possibilities in horror.


stereotypes; horror; Julia Kristeva; Tim Burton; Steven King

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18061/dsq.v36i1.3258

Copyright (c) 2016 Melinda Hall

Beginning with Volume 36, Issue No. 4 (2016), Disability Studies Quarterly is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives license unless otherwise indicated. 

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