"What Has Become of Jimmy Thornton?": The Rhetoric(s) of Letter-Writing at The New York State Asylum for Idiots, 1855-1866

Authors

  • Zosha Stuckey Towson University

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.18061/dsq.v31i3.1669

Keywords:

Asylum, letters, rhetoric, Syracuse, history

Abstract

This article looks to the genre of letter-writing and to epistolary rhetoric in order to recover perspectives seemingly lost amongst the medicalized discourse of asylum histories. These hard-to-find letters written in the nineteenth century by pupils, family members, and teachers open us up to new perspectives not available in other archival documents. I give a brief introduction to the history and theory of epistolary rhetoric, delimit a disability epistolary, and then consider a group of letters in terms of the rhetorical action they perform. I conclude by emphasizing the significance of this cross-disciplinary work for both rhetoric and disability studies.

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Published

2011-08-08

Issue

Section

Disability and Rhetoric