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Zeitschrift für Anglistik und Amerikanistik

A Quarterly of Language, Literature and Culture

[Journal of English and American Studies]

Ed. by Butter, Michael / Eckstein, Lars / Frenk, Joachim / Georgi-Findlay, Brigitte / Herbst, Thomas / Korte, Barbara / Leypoldt, Günter / Reinfandt, Christoph / Stefanowitsch, Anatol

CiteScore 2018: 0.14

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.148
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.497

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Volume 67, Issue 1


Relocating the Freak Show: Disability in the Medical Drama

Gesine Wegner
  • Corresponding author
  • TU Dresden, Department of English and American Studies, Helmholtzstr. 10, 01069 Dresden, Germany
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Published Online: 2019-03-06 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/zaa-2019-0003


Through an analysis of various negotiations of disability in House, M.D. and Grey’s Anatomy, my paper discusses the narrative and non-narrative means that make the medical drama such an appealing genre to contemporary audience members. As the most successful medical dramas of the post-millennial era, House, M.D. and Grey’s Anatomy rely heavily on the exhibition of non-normative bodies, the humorous device of re-naming patients, and the narrative construction of disability as unbearable deviance. While Laura Backstrom locates the freak show in non-fictional television formats like the talk show and documentary, my paper illustrates how the medical drama, although at times highly self-reflexive, has become another pervasive relocation of the freak show into contemporary television. In a close reading of Grey’s Anatomy, I further demonstrate how the portrayal of a disabled doctor as a series regular both manifests and challenges some of the normative perceptions of the body that the genre relies on.

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About the article

Corresponding author: Gesine Wegner, MA, TU Dresden, Department of English and American Studies, Helmholtzstr. 10, 01069 Dresden, Germany

Published Online: 2019-03-06

Published in Print: 2019-03-26

Citation Information: Zeitschrift für Anglistik und Amerikanistik, Volume 67, Issue 1, Pages 19–36, ISSN (Online) 2196-4726, ISSN (Print) 0044-2305, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/zaa-2019-0003.

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