AWEJ for Translation & Literary Studies, Volume 7, Number 1. February  2023                          Pp.162-174

Resisting the Disability Gaze in Amy Webb’s Picturebook Awesomely Emma

 Reham Almutairi

The Department of English Language and Literature
College of Humanities and Social Sciences
King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia


Recently, the (mis)representation of disability and disabled people has become a key topic of conversation within disability studies. These misrepresentations result from the disability gaze—depicting disability and disabled people in literature and popular culture from the perspective of non-disabled people that often cast disabled people in myriad stereotypical representations. Therefore, this study aims to investigate how the disability gaze is negotiated in Awesomely Emma (2020), a children’s picturebook by Amy Webb, illustrated by Merrilee Liddiard. Drawing on disability studies and visual analysis scholarship, this study highlights how the disability gaze is resisted and destabilized in this picturebook by using staring back—a strategy of resistance developed by disabled people that involves looking back at non-disabled people to demand recognition and resist silencing and marginalization. The study demonstrates how Awesomely Emma employs the process of staring back at the visual and verbal levels as a tool for resistance and activism against the rhetoric of disability discrimination and stigmatization, thereby significantly contributing to disability counternarratives. The significance of this study lies in its manifestation of the role the process of staring back can play in transfiguring entrenched, negative ways of disability representation to propose alternative means of understanding and reimagining disability.
Keywords: activism, Amy Webb, Awesomely Emma, children’s literature, disability, gaze, picturebook, resistance, stigma

Cite as:

Almutairi, R. (2023). Resisting the Disability Gaze in Amy Webb’s Picturebook Awesomely Emma. Arab World English
Journal for Translation & Literary Studies
7 (1):162-174. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.24093/awejtls/vol7no1.12