Body Without Organs
Martha Stoddard Holmes
Martha Stoddard Holmes, M.A., Ph.D
Professor & Chair
Department of Literature & Writing Studies
California State University
San Marcos, California
Trained as a fiction writer (M.A.) and then as a scholar of Victorian literature and culture (Ph.D.), my primary research and teaching emphasis has been disability studies. Disability studies is the critical analysis of disability as a culturally-constructed identity category similar to race, gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation, rather than as an essential and a historical truth about certain kinds of bodies. I explore disability as a mode of representing bodies in visual and written texts, and as a way of organizing the social world and power relations on the basis of human bodily variation. Fictions of Affliction, my book on the way Victorian literary, medical, and social work discourse conferred meaning to bodily impairment (2004), was reissued in paperback in 2009 in University of Michigan Press’s "Corporealities" series. More recent work explores cancer culture, specifically popular representations of ovarian cancer and graphic narratives (comics) about cancer. I have also coedited (with Diane P. Freedman) the collection The Teacher’s Body: Embodiment, Authority, and Identity in the Classroom (SUNY P, 2003) and special issues of Journal of Medical Humanities (with Rosemarie Garland-Thomson), Literature and Medicine (with Tod Chambers), and Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies (with Mark Mossman).
I have had the privilege of teaching literature and medicine electives at Dartmouth and University of California, San Diego (UCSD) Medical Schools, under the mentorship of Dr. Joseph O’Donnell and Dr. Lawrence J. Schneiderman. At Cal State San Marcos, I engage disability studies and medical humanities/medical ethics issues with undergraduates and graduate students in a range of cultural/body studies seminars as well as in courses on British literature and children’s literature and culture.
I am an associate editor of the journals Literature and Medicine, J. Medical Humanities, J. Bioethical Inquiry, and J. Literary and Cultural Studies of Disability, and a special-interest delegate of the Modern Language Association (MLA) for disability issues.