Seminar: ‘Manifest Pleasures: Litany, Utopia, and Literary Autism’, Julia Miele Rodas

Manifest Pleasures: Litany, Utopia, and Literary Autism

Associate Professor Julia Miele Rodas

Date: Wednesday 8th October 2014

Time: 2.15pm–3.45pm

Place: Eden 109, Liverpool Hope University, UK

One of the great pleasures of autism is its perseverative reenactments of symbolic order and containment. From clinical models identifying and defining autistic “stereotypy” to the repetitive and recursive systems of temporal and spatial exploration favoured by many autistic people, the inclination to play with symbolic pattern is widely recognized as a hallmark of autistic cognition, identity, and aesthetic. Regarded as one of the core diagnostic features of autistic “disorder,” repetitive signatures of autistic practice are typically understood in terms of deficiency: an inappropriate form of self-expression, an unhealthy or unproductive focus on the nonessential, or, a rigid and mechanistic form of interaction with the world. A growing minority of autism-friendly thinkers, however, has begun to challenge this dominant interpretive consensus, among other things, recognizing the hypersystemizing gesture–the autistic proclivity for pattern–as productive or creative rather than mechanistic, meaningless, or psychopathological. Unfolding this observation within an explicitly literary framework Dr Rodas draws a connection between survivalist inventories, the lists implicitly framed within formal petitionary prayer, and formally structured literary utopias, suggesting a generic relationship between these disparate forms and proposing that all three exhibit a fundamentally autistic literary aesthetic.

Julia Miele Rodas is Associate Professor of English at Bronx Community College / CUNY (City University of New York). With David Bolt and Elizabeth Donaldson, she is co-editor of The Madwoman and the Blindman: Jane Eyre, Discourse, Disability (Ohio State UP, 2012) and of the Literary Disability Studies book series (Palgrave Macmillan). Her writing has appeared in Victorian Literature & CultureDickens Studies Annual, the Victorian Review, the Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability StudiesDisability Studies Quarterly, the Explicator, and other venues. She also serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies(Liverpool University Press). She is currently working on a book—Autistic Disturbances—that theorizes the role of autistic rhetoric and aesthetic in literature.

This seminar is part of the CCDS series, The Voice of Disability. Other dates include:

  • 12 Nov 2014, Discourses, Decisions, Designs: An international comparative analysis of “special” educational policy making, Jessica Chong.
  • 17 Dec 2014, It’s Not Gibberish: ‘Disabled’ Voices in Literature for Young People, Chloë Hughes.
  • 14 Jan 2015, It Must Be Simple: The Supreme Fiction at the Core of the Backlash to Access Debate, David Feeney.
  • 11 Feb 2015, Authorship and the voice of disability in dance, Mathilde Pavis and Kate Marsh. 
  • 11 Mar 2015, Which Theory of Democracy for an Inclusive Society? A Pragmaticist Approach, David Doat. 
  • 13 May 2015, The Voice of the Disability Activist Movement in the US around the ADA:  A Hidden Minority or a Hidden Army, Lennard J. Davis.
  • 17 Jun 2015, ‘Working together for positive outcomes’: The Appropriation of Voice and Participation in SEN policy, Claire Penketh.

For further information please contact:

Dr. David Bolt

Associate Professor, Faculty of Education

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