Disability Studies: Horace Bushnell

Horace Bushnell was an amazing man. He laid the groundwork for a city park that, when constructed, rejuvenated Hartford. He also took an interest in proposals for a transcontinental railroad, and, on his own, planned a route that was very close to the one eventually adopted.

Bushnell was also pastor of North Church (Congregational) in Hartford, leading it through a time of rapid growth in a city that was changing from a port to a financial center. His ability to argue a point (due, in part, to his earlier legal training) and critique both sides of a debate first established his reputation.

However, Bushnell contracted tuberculosis, which forced him to resign his position. He turned to writing, just as new printing technology made books cheaper than ever, and became a well-known figure. He also became the center of debate (and an attempt to mount an heresy trial), where his legal training again came to his aid.

With the drum-beats of the approaching Civil War, Bushnell turned to politics. Although he was a fervent Unionist, he again experienced no difficulty in lambasting both sides for falling away from the biblical standards of faith. As he wrote, Bushnell reflected upon and challenged views on many subjects, including attitudes toward the body.

Because so much of his work was available, and because he lived during a time of great change, Bushnell was an attractive subject for study, and became the topic of my thesis. Someday, I will revise it, but with all the other work ahead, that will be a while, so I have chosen to make it available for download here as an Adobe PDF (546K).

"Moral Uses of Dark Things": A Disability Studies Approach to Horace Bushnell



Updated 14 September 2007.