When I met Neville Longbottom in the pages of J.K. Rowling’s first Harry Potter book, I recognized him right away. Neville couldn’t remember the password to Gryffindor tower or much of anything else. He tripped over his feet. His teachers yelled at him to try harder, but all his efforts seemed to be worthless. His gran wondered why he was not more like his parents. When Neville fell off his broom, I knew that I would have done the same if my childhood PE classes involved magic. I recognized his limited motor skills, tendency to reverse or confuse processes, and decreased short-term memory as like my own experiences of dyslexia. Neville is like me – a person with learning disabilities.
In this paper, I offer a “resistant reading” of Neville Longbottom in which I claim him as disabled. While I assert there is amble textual evidence to support my characterization of Neville as disabled, my decision to describe him as such also transforms the text. I do not argue that Rowling intended readers to understand Neville as disabled; if she did, then her description leaves much to be desired. By reading disability where none was intended, I am fashioning a representation of myself.
You can find the rest of this essay in Time Lords & Tribbles, Winchesters & Muggles.