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Touching the Rock: Masculinity and Macular Degeneration

Kavanagh, Declan (2023) Touching the Rock: Masculinity and Macular Degeneration. In: Bolt, David, ed. Finding Blindness: International Constructions and Deconstructions. Autocritical Disability Studies . Routledge, London and New York, pp. 139-151. ISBN 978-1-03-222992-8. (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:95820)

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What is the macula? For some people, the word macula will be wholly unfamiliar. Most people are unlikely to have ever heard this word uttered before, or, at least to have noticed and fully registered its meaning. More often than not, people will have encountered the term macular degeneration, but not know what exactly it is that is being ‘degenerated’ – namely, the macula, whose etymological root comes from the Latin: macula lutea. This chapter is about how I learnt the significance of the word ‘macula’. Using auto-critical discourse analysis, I weave my own experiences of macular degeneration diagnosis into a broader history of sight loss and masculinity as it comes into tension with ideas on blindness that remain culturally prevalent. In thinking through macular degeneration and what David Bolt terms the metanarrative of blindness (Bolt, 2014), I also explore two cultural stations of blindness, that is, two literary texts that have aided me in my own unpacking of what blindness might mean. The first text is John M. Hull’s memoir Notes on Blindness: A Journey Through The Dark re-issued in 2017 and originally published in 1990 as Touching the Rock: An Experience of Blindness. The second is Derek Jarman’s book entitled Chroma: A Book of Colour (1994). Both Hull’s memoir on blindness and Jarman’s meditations on the use of colour are roughly contemporaneous as texts that co-emerge in the early 1990s, each with gestation periods of a few years earlier than that. In my own reading of Hull’s and Jarman’s writings, I piece together the ways in which blindness informs ideas of manliness, whilst also showing how the experience of sight loss, when de-coupled from the meta-narrative of blindness, can offer us opportunities to re-think masculinity itself.

Item Type: Book section
Uncontrolled keywords: Macular Degeneration; Derek Jarman; John M. Hull; Blindness; Auto-Critical; Disability Studies.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare > HV1568 Disability studies
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of English
Depositing User: Declan Kavanagh
Date Deposited: 15 Jul 2022 11:17 UTC
Last Modified: 20 Dec 2022 15:47 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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