Language is integral to oursocial being. But what is the status of those who stand outside of language?The mentally disabled, "e;wild"e; children, people with autism and otherneurological disorders, as well as animals, infants, angels, and artificialintelligences, have all engaged with language from a position at its borders. In the intricate verbal constructions of modern literature, the'disarticulate'-those at the edges of language-have, paradoxically, playedessential, defining roles. Drawing on the disarticulate figures inmodern fictional works such as Billy Budd, The Sound and the Fury,Nightwood, White Noise, and The Echo Maker, among others,James Berger shows in this intellectually bracing study how these charactersmark sites at which aesthetic, philosophical, ethical, political, medical, andscientific discourses converge. It is also the place of the greatest ethicaltension, as society confronts the needs and desires of "e;the least of itsbrothers."e; Berger argues that the disarticulate is that which is unaccountablein the discourses of modernity and thus stands as an alternative to theprevailing social order. Using literary history and theory, as well asdisability and trauma theory, he examines how these disarticulate figuresreveal modernity's anxieties in terms of how it constructs its others.
Language, Disability, and the Narratives of Modernity