|dc.description.abstract||This project is motivated by the presence of eugenics in our dominant approaches to meaning-making: what does it look like, and why should we care? To begin to answer these questions, this dissertation works from two concepts: enfreakment – the identification of elements that are desirable or wanted – and eugenicist logics, the removal of what is not wanted or deemed necessary for the desired outcome, or alternatively, the replication of the elements that are considered useful.
To observe the interaction between the logic of eugenics and enfreakment within ableist systems, this dissertation develops the enfreakment of language, a term that encompasses both the process of enfreakment and the heuristic that allows us to see that process in action. The enfreakment of language uncovers how particular modes of Western and Euro-American meaning-making depend on the logic of eugenics, a dependency that is detrimental to the bodies that become subjected to the power gained through this logic.
Focusing on some of the implications of the overlap and interaction between the logics of eugenics and enfreakment within ableist systems, this project demonstrates the operation of eugenics as a logic that motivates discourses around human variation. I offer three examples of representations of disability and eugenics in America to illustrate reproductions of the freak show and eugenicist practices within the production and consumption of the “abnormal” body. I first show how a system based on eugenicist logic operates by examining how eugenicist logic in the language of U.S. Ugly Laws is mirrored in Nazi euthanasia practices. Next, I illustrate the collapse of a system based on eradication through an examination of representations of Anne Frank, demonstrating how eugenicist logics of Nazi programs dis/able her as the “face of the Holocaust.” Finally, I look at the attempts to create an alternate, anti-eugenicist system in contemporary public rhetorics through an analysis of Lady Gaga’s references to Nazi eugenics and disability in her work. Ultimately, this dissertation argues that Disability Studies is essential if the academy is to account for the bodies and practices that have been erased in the attempt to define categories of “abnormal.”||