Returns: Author Spotlight – Vikki Visvis

Vikki Visvis is a lecturer for the Department of English at the University of Toronto, where she teaches Canadian literature. She has published on Canadian and American fiction by Elizabeth Hay, Eden Robinson, Joseph Boyden, Kerri Sakamoto, Dionne Brand, David Bergen, Michael Ondaatje, and Toni Morrison in Canadian LiteratureStudies in Canadian LiteratureMosaicARIEL, and African American Review.


“Deaf Canada: Disability Discourses and National Constructs in Frances Itani’s Deafening


Although the historical realism of Frances Itani’s Deafening offers accurate representations of Deaf people and communities excluded from the nation on the basis of stigmatized bodily difference, the novel simultaneously engages in subtle historical revisionism by mobilizing disability discourses to suggest deafness as able-bodied is foundational to Canada’s national identity in the early twentieth century. Specifically, Itani’s novel uses its central deaf character, Grania, as a national allegory to reimagine the nation as highly able—whether through a critique of silence as deficit, a challenge to the separation of the senses, or the rehabilitation of the wounded World War One soldier—that changes the contours of the nation in ways which unsettle strict historical realism. The novel, therefore, offers a revised model of the Canadian nation, premised on the Deaf, that is inclusive, not exclusive, of difference.

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