Can We Talk About Simon's Stutter, Though? Bridgerton as a Disability Narrative

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Registration for this event will close on October 6, 2022 @ 6:30pm.
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Program Description


While the first season of Bridgerton is not often understood as a disability narrative, it cannot be denied that Simon would not be averse to marrying and having children if his father had not rejected him for stuttering as a child. The fact that the premise of the series is based on a disability that is then underplayed and dismissed is an example of what David Mitchell and Sharon Snyder call narrative prosthesis. In this talk, I will explore the ways in which narrative prosthesis is more pronounced in the Netflix adaptation than in the novel upon which it is based. In The Duke and I, we occasionally see the adult Simon struggle to control his tongue. The written medium of the novel means that we have access to Simon’s interiority and can observe his coping strategies. The visual medium of the Netflix series, however, cannot replicate this access, especially because it does not use a voice-over. In Bridgerton, Simon’s stutter is almost entirely contained within his childhood in the second episode, making it easier to forget about Simon’s disability and its importance in establishing the stakes of the narrative. While the show is well known for increasing the representation of people of color through its casting, it has missed an opportunity to explore disability as a speaking center of the tale.

Tolonda Henderson is a PhD student in the English Department at the University of Connecticut who specializes in disability, race, and young adult literature. They have given a number of talks and academic conference papers on disability in popular culture. Mx. Henderson lives in Stafford Springs with their husband, excitable dog, and bully of a cat. 


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