Date of Award

Spring 2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Director

Drew Lopenzina

Committee Member

Ruth Osorio

Committee Member

Elizabeth J. Vincelette


This project examines the ways in which the disabled body is constructed and produced in larger society, via the creation of and interaction with (and through) the archive. The archive, for the purposes of this project, is defined by scholars such as Jacques Derrida and Carolyn Steedman. It is a place where information is stored and documented, but through this process, history and power are also created and maintained. In order to properly examine the ways the archive helps shape the understanding of the disabled body and experience, I use three case studies: Richard III, Caliban and Joseph Merrick. Each of these case studies focuses on a historical study of the figure, and then moves into a theatrical and popular culture study. Primary documents are consulted first, and then the ways those primary documents inform later works is examined. Overall the goal is to show how the archive is a part of creating power dynamics within society, yet the archive can also be a place of restorative possibility—meaning the archive can be used to restore power and dignity to those that have been oppressed and silenced for so long.