Conjoined Reality, Conjoined Representation: Watching Ourselves Watching Abby and Brittany HenselConjoined Reality, Conjoined Representation: Watching Ourselves Watching Abby and Brittany Henselhttp://www.haverford.edu/calendar/details/251582Chase Auditorium2013-10-24T16:30:002013-10-24T18:00:00
October 24, 4:30PM–6:00PM
Distinguished Visitor Ellen Samuels, Professor of English and Gender & Women's Studies, University of Wisconsin, Madison
Conjoined Reality, Conjoined Representation:
Watching Ourselves Watching Abby and Brittany Hensel
Abby and Brittany Hensel, conjoined twins born in Minnesota in 1990, have starred in television documentaries and reality shows on the TLC network since the age of eleven. These television appearances arguably come the closest to reliable self-authored life narratives by conjoined twins yet produced in American culture. Yet they also involve a combination of voices, perspectives, and editing decisions that nuance any simplistic understanding of the shows as purely autobiographical or self-created. By analyzing how these television appearances have been staged and narrated, their production and distribution conditions, and the compelling moments when the Hensel sisters directly address issues of self-representation, this talk explores the complicated questions of ethics and agency that arise in contemporary representations of extraordinary bodies.
Ellen Samuels is Assistant Professor of English and Gender & Women’s Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and a founder of the UW Disability Studies Initiative. She is the author of Fantasies of Identification: Disability, Gender, Race (NYU Press, 2014) and her critical writing has been published in numerous journals and anthologies including GLQ: Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, MELUS: Multi-Ethnic Literatures of the United States, Amerasia Journal, NWSA Journal, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, The Oxford Handbook of Nineteenth-Century American Literature, and Feminist Disability Studies. Her awards include the Catherine Stimpson Prize for Outstanding Feminist Scholarship, two Lambda Literary Awards, and the Ed Roberts Postdoctoral Fellowship in Disability Studies at the University of California at Berkeley. This talk is drawn from her new book project, titled Double Meanings: Representing Conjoined Twins.
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