Date of Publication


Degree Type

Honors Thesis


Education and Human Development

First Advisor

Dr. Megan Norcia, Associate Professor, English


This Honors Senior Thesis explores textual themes regarding disability in literary works featuring protagonists with a disability. In particular, it analyzes the role of literature as a way to provide exposure to and connection with the life experiences of a protagonist with a disability. The author then uses that information to generate insight into how she should approach her own creative writing project—a young adult novel portraying the lived experience of a 13-year-old male protagonist with bipolar disorder. The author focuses her attention on three works: Izzy, Willy Nilly (Cynthia Voight, 1986), The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime (Mark Haddon, 2003), and El Deafo (Cece Bell, 2015). Each book depicts a protagonist with a specific, named disability (amputation, ASD, and deafness). She examines how these works express or reject media-perpetuated stereotypes about disability, such as “victim/helplessness” and “inspirational/heroic”. She then offers suggestions about how she will avoid such pitfalls in her own work.


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