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date: 24 April 2019

Abstract and Keywords

What is the role of the contemporary musical in policing femininity through disability, and how might a reconsideration of the tropes deployed around disabled mothers and daughters provide an answer this question? More specifically, how do monstrous mothers and disabled daughters become figures through which normalcy—whether compulsory femininity, heteronormativity, or able-bodiedness—can be emphasized or subverted? Both the musicals The Light in the Piazza (2005) and Next to Normal (2008) feature disabled women whose mental disability is a central element of the plot. Yet the musicals feature radically divergent endings; the former ends in a traditional marriage plot, while the latter concludes with a family breaking apart. What we might term a happy ending has different implications not only for the women in these musicals but also for those watching; not all deployments of disabled daughterhood, or disabled maternity, are created equal.

Keywords: Next to Normal, The Light in the Piazza, intellectual disability, bipolar disorder, feminist Disability Studies, musical theatre

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