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Crossing Over: (Dis)Ability, Contingent Agency, And Death In The Marginal Genre Work Of Temple Gradin And Jim Harrison

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Chapter Summary

The author suggests that the idea of agency itself suffers from being too categorically dependent; it is often too strictly connected to inaccurate, merely conventional definitions of humanity, and to the cluster of associated in-category attributes. The approach foregrounds the human self's weakness and mortality, thereby complicating the category "human" and unsettling notions of selfhood, intelligence, action, language, and so on, which cannot finally be separated from agency. This chapter applies and extends such an approach by considering two authors whose work contests identity-bound notions of agency. Temple Grandin's nonfiction life narrative as it appears in various texts and Jim Harrison's novella "The Beast God Forgot to Invent" display the unusual capacities of two ostensibly disabled people who are likened to animals. The author deliberately commits a minor indiscretion of genre by coupling these texts, when one is "fictional" while the other is "nonfictional," to interrogate the function.

Keywords: contingent agency; Jim Harrison; Temple Grandin



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