Ellen Samuels

Position title: Resident Fellow (2012-2013)

Gender and Women's Studies and English, UW-Madison

Portrait image of Ellen Samuels

Double Meanings: Representing Conjoined Twins

Double Meanings: Representing Conjoined Twins analyzes cultural representations of conjoined twins in literature, film, media, and popular culture. The guiding principle for this project is to reverse the sensationalism usually attached to public discussions of conjoinment by turning the lens of fascination back onto the cultural meanings attached to representations of such twins. Double Meanings asks what representations of conjoinment can tell us about the workings of power in different cultural settings, especially as conjoinment intersects with more familiar identities of race, class, gender, and sexuality. Unlike previous scholarly works, this project turns away from broad philosophical questions to explore such historically-located areas of inquiry as colonialism, slavery, sexual science, modern consumerism, and globalization, all of which shape the representation of conjoined twins from the nineteenth through twenty-first centuries.

Ellen Samuels is Assistant Professor of English and Gender & Women’s Studies at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and Director of UW Disability Studies. Her critical writing on disability, gender, and race has been published in numerous journals and anthologies, including Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, The Oxford Handbook of Nineteenth-Century American Literature, Feminist Disability Studies, GLQ: Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, MELUS: Multi-Ethnic Literatures of the United States, NWSA Journal, and Leviathan: A Journal of Melville Studies. Her awards include a 2012 American Association of University Women Publication Grant, the 2011 Catherine Stimpson Prize for Outstanding Feminist Scholarship, two Lambda Literary Awards, and the Ed Roberts Postdoctoral Fellowship in Disability Studies at the University of California at Berkeley. She received her B.A from Oberlin College, her M.F.A. in creative writing from Cornell University, and her Ph.D. in English from the University of California at Berkeley. Her first book, Self Evident: Disability and Bodily Identity, is forthcoming from NYU Press, and she is now working on a new book, Double Meanings: Representing Conjoined Twins.