Pasquale Toscano

Graduate Student

Photo of Pasquale

Pasquale Toscano is an aspiring scholar/critic, teacher, and writer, especially on disability, whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlanticand Vox, among other publications. A graduate of Washington and Lee University (2016), he earned two master’s degrees, in English (1550-1700) and Classics, from the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. Now a PhD student in (early modern) English literature at Princeton, Pasquale specializes in Milton, disability studies, the (neo)classical epic tradition, Black classicism, and Tudor/Stuart drama (especially Roman plays and Shakespearean tragedy). Though he writes about them less frequently, Pasquale is likewise a fan of contemporary fiction, including Marilynne Robinson’s and Elizabeth Strout’s, as well as musical theater. His scholarship, and creative nonfiction, has been published in Disability Studies Quarterly, Reformation, and the Classical Receptions Journal, and is forthcoming in SEL: Studies in English Literature 1500-1900 and the Huntington Library Quarterly. He is also a contributing writer to Synapsis: A Health Humanities Journal, where many of his public-facing essays can be found.


Pasquale is currently at work on several projects, including a chapter for The Oxford Handbook of George Herbert on disability in the seventeenth-century poet’s collection The Temple, as well as his dissertation. This reevaluation of heroic poetry, tentatively entitled “‘Stand and Wait’: Dynamics of Disability in the Epic Tradition from Homer to Wheatley Peters,” broadly identifies two intertwined ways in which epicists deal with the formal and thematic problems of psychosomatic alterity. On the one hand, there is a dominant ableist tendency towards broaching disability only to eliminate it definitively, and straightaway. On the other, however, stands a countertradition of what Pasquale calls “crip renovations”—that is, reconstructions of the standard relationships between heroism, form, and temporality that begin rendering the genre accessible to atypical bodyminds. Texts discussed will likely include Homer’s epics, Virgil’s Aeneid, Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Spenser’s Faerie Queene, and Milton’s Paradise Lost, along with more unusual interlocutors such as Aelius Aristides’s Sacred Tales, Lucy Hutchinson’s Order and Disorder, Olaudah Equiano’s Interesting Narrative, and Wheatley Peters’s “Little Columbiad.”


Additional information about Pasquale, including his CV, can be found on or in his English Department profile.


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