Rebecca Sanchez

Haben Girma to speak on "Disability & Innovation: The Universal Benefits of Inclusion"

Haben Girma to speak on "Disability & Innovation: The Universal Benefits of Inclusion"

Haben Girma will speak on "Disability & Innovation: The Universal Benefits of Inclusion" on Wednesday, April 11, 5-6pm, at Fordham University's Rose Hill Campus (Keating First). You can also attend at the Lincoln Center campus, in Lowenstein 708. Please RSVP. 

Profile: Rebecca Sanchez

Fordham English professor Rebecca Sanchez is transforming the way literary scholarship approaches disability studies and examines civil rights.

Sanchez, whose main research interests include modernism, poetics, critical theory, and disability studies, first fell in love with modernist literature as an undergraduate. Attracted to its self-reflexivity and linguistic intricacies, found herself able to discover something new every time she returned to a text. “I loved that experience of coming back to the same texts over and over, and the ways that so many modernist works, through their engagement with difficulty and indeterminacy, reward that patience,” she said.

Reflecting on the ways modernist literature challenges assumptions about language, Sanchez crafted her recent book, Deafening Modernism. The book uses deaf critical abilities to illuminate the works of T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, William Carlos Williams, and Charlie Chaplin, among others.

According to Sanchez, disability studies, and specifically deaf studies, offer illuminating perspectives about the intersections between bodies and texts and between the visual and the linguistic, and develop ideas “about non-normative communicative practice that were almost entirely untapped in modernist studies.” Whereas most scholarship in literary disability studies seeks to identify and analyze disabled characters and writers, Sanchez’s work aims to engage disability, especially deafness, as a critical approach. The new approach can be fruitfully applied to texts with no explicit link to disability.

Deafening Modernism is essentially an experiment into what it would look like to discuss modernists’ preoccupation with things like impersonality, primitivism, indeterminacy, and the image from the perspective of deaf and disability insight,” said Sanchez.

Currently, Sanchez is working on a new book titled Adomestic Modernity: Homelessness, Migration, and Access to the Private Sphere. The book will explore the experiences and representations of homelessness in the early twentieth century, paying special attention to those who were systematically denied access to secure private spaces. It will examine refugees and the internally displaced, exiles, disabled people who were institutionalized, and those whose communities were crossed by shifting national borders.

As Sanchez points out, a violation of one's civil rights can, in some cases, be seen as the denial of one's access to private space. "I'm interested in exploring what individuals and communities who are forced into the public sphere can teach us about the relationship between public and private," said Sanchez. She will also explore insights these groups may provide into how people think about and represent others. 

"The hope," said Sanchez, "is that examining the rhetoric surrounding these questions during a period when our current legal understanind of privacy was being developed will also be helpful in thinking through the ways in which we discuss both privacy and displaced populations in our own historical moment." 

Fordham at the MLA

After the holidays but before spring semester classes start, Fordham English faculty will be flying across the continent to join thousands of other professors of literature and language at the annual conference of the Modern Language Association. The 2015 conference will take place from January 8 through 11 in Vancouver, British Columbia. Scholars travel to present their most recent research, and to share new ideas about teaching. The MLA conference is also where our English Ph.D. students go to interview for teaching and research jobs at other institutions around the world (and we wish them great success at their interviews!). 

Fordham faculty presenting at this year's MLA conference include:  

  • Lenny Cassuto, who will be on a special session titled “Teaching, Research, Service: A Close Reading.” 

  • Cornelius Collins, who will be chairing a panel on “Doris Lessing and Canada.”  

  • Heather Dubrow, who will be moderating a panel she organized on "Song and/in/as/versus Poetry in Medieval and Early Modern Literature. Professor Dubrow will also be participating in a roundtable discussion of "The Future of the Seventeenth Century." 

  • Chris GoGwilt, who will present a paper titled "Conrad and Joyce in i-Space."  GoGwilt will also formally take over as the incoming President of the Joseph Conrad Society of America, and invites everyone who is interested to attend the business meeting and dinner at 7pm on Friday, January 9 at Ukrainian Village Restaurant, 815 Denman Street (at Robson St.). In order to attend, send US $45 check payable to JCSA (or $25 for graduate students) to Mark Larabee, English Dept., U. S. Naval Academy, 107 Maryland Ave., Annapolis, MD 21402 , or else simply request a PayPal invoice ( no later than 24 December.

  • Rebecca Sanchez, who will be chairing a panel on "Disability Epistemology" and delivering a paper on "Border Epistemologies: George Washington Gómez and the Geopolitics of Genre"


If you're attending the conference and want to attend any (or all!) of these talks, you can find details in the conference program.