Calvert, Dave (2014) ‘A person with some sort of learning disability’: the aetiological narrative and public construction of Susan Boyle. Disability and Society, 29 (1). pp. 101-114. ISSN 0968-7599

Susan Boyle's audition for the television talent competition Britain's Got Talent attracted global attention and widespread media discourse. In this article, I examine this discourse to consider how Boyle's success troubles conventional constructions of both learning disability and celebrity.

I extend Ciara Evans's recognition that learning disability is invisible to reflect on the media responses to Boyle's impairment. This reflection notes that even within Boyle's own discourse, she is loosely positioned as having 'some sort of learning disability'.

Detailed attention is given to the aetiological account of the 'brain damage' Boyle `suffered' at birth. The analysis will consider the correlation with scientific discourse, trauma theory and the imposed biography to suggest that the construction of Boyle as both contained and unpredictable is already implicit in the aetiological narrative.

‘A_person_with_some_sort_of_learning_disability’_-_the_etiological_narrative_and_public_construction_of_Susan_Boyle.doc - Accepted Version

Download (107kB)


Downloads per month over past year

Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email