Jean Franzino

Postdoctoral Fellow, Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library

2021 to 2022
Research Fellow

Dis-Union: Disability, Narrative, and the American Civil War

Dis-Union studies the print culture of the U.S. Civil War, asking what role language choices, narrative structures, and readerly expectations played in defining disability for nineteenth-century Americans. As such, it explores how the health crisis of the Civil War was mediated by the written word, and with what effects for understandings of both disability and authorship. Analyzing a wide array of writings including government documents, hospital newspapers, artificial limb manuals, texts sold by disabled veterans for their economic support, and imaginative literature, the project argues that the Civil War played a crucial role in encouraging Americans to see disability as a “social” phenomenon requiring a governmental and community response, rather then merely an individual, medical condition. However, the project also analyzes the backlash to this view, exploring why particular organizations, cultural producers, and even some veterans themselves maintained an individualized view of disability.