Pasquale Toscano

Pasquale Toscano
Pasquale Toscano

Pasquale Toscano is an aspiring scholar/critic, teacher, and writer, especially on disability, whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, and 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 nonstandard bodyminds. 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 standards such as Homer’s epics, Virgil’s Aeneid, Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Spenser’s Faerie Queene, and Milton’s Paradise Lost, along with more unusual interlocutors like Aelius Aristides’s Sacred Tales, Lucy Hutchinson’s Order and Disorder, Olaudah Equiano’s Interesting Narrative, and Wheatley Peters’s “Little Columbiad.”

Teaching is also important to Pasquale. He designed a course, “Literature and Psychology,” for Oxbridge Academic Programs in 2018, has served as an AI here at Princeton, and looks forward to further opportunities to teach in the future.

Additional information about Pasquale, including his CV, can be found on

Selected Publications: 

Three articles:

“Pity, Singular Disability, and the Makings of Shakespearean Tragedy in Julius Caesar,” SEL 61.2 (forthcoming).

The Way History Lands on a Face: Disability, Indigeneity, and Embodied Violence in Tommy Orange’s There There,” with Brandi Bushman, DSQ 41.4 (2021).

Epic Regained: Phillis Wheatley’s Admonitory Poetics in the ‘Little Columbiad,’Classical Receptions Journal 13.2 (April 2021): 178-211.

Three public-facing essays:

‘Let Be Assigned Some Narrow Place Enclosed’: Requesting Accommodations Has Always Been Tricky Business,” Synapsis, 19 Sept. 2021.

Hamilton is America’s Monumental Epic. That’s a Good Thing,” LARB, 19 July 2020.

I’m obese and disabled. I want a healthy lifestyle. But it’s often inaccessible to disabled people like me,” Vox, 27 May 2019.

Three op-eds:

Legal Abortion Isn’t the Problem to be Solved,” with Alexis Doyle, The Atlantic, 19 July 2019.

Stop Using Disability as a Political Club,” The Boston Globe, 4 Feb. 2018.

My University is Named for Robert E. Lee. What now?,” The New York Times, 22 Aug. 2017.