Of Non-Mice and Non-Men: Against Essentialism in Joshua Ferris's The Unnamed

Nathan D. Frank


Noticing the recent trend in disability studies to entertain essentialism in an attempt to capture the efficacy of identity politics, this essay articulates the reductive implications of doing so. By way of a meta-theoretical synthesis that guides a reading of The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris - a novel that defies categories precisely by defying the categorization of its protagonist's fictional disability in which he is unable to stop himself from walking - disability theory merges here with a range of speculative realisms to expose how the dangers of essentialism are reflected even in the very term "ableism."


essentialism; ableism; cognitive disability; neurological disorder; autism; Joshua Ferris; posthumanism; speculative realism; justice; narrative theory; disability theory

Full Text:


DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18061/dsq.v40i2.6855

Copyright (c) 2020 Nathan D. Frank

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Volume 1 through Volume 20, no. 3 of Disability Studies Quarterly is archived on the Knowledge Bank site; Volume 20, no. 4 through the present can be found on this site under Archives.

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

Disability Studies Quarterly is published by The Ohio State University Libraries in partnership with the Society for Disability Studies.

If you encounter problems with the site or have comments to offer, including any access difficulty due to incompatibility with adaptive technology, please contact libkbhelp@lists.osu.edu.

ISSN: 2159-8371 (Online); 1041-5718 (Print)