June 6, 2019, 6:00-7:30pm ≡  Metropolitan Museum of Art

marble statuette of blind female figure, NydiaMaking Disability Visible

A panel discussion addressing the presence, visibility, and legibility of disability in the Met collections.

Where do we find disability in the Met collections? Does it matter if an artist is disabled and should we include this context when talking about art? Are there “right” and “wrong” ways of talking about disability? What do we mean by “disability artistry” and “disability aesthetics”? And … is there a connection between these questions and the question of disabled access to gallery and museum spaces?

Join us for a conversation with panelists Ian Alteveer (Aaron I. Fleischman Curator, Department of Modern and Contemporary Art, The Met), Rebecca McGinnis (Senior Managing Educator, Accessibility, The Met), and Therí A. Pickens (Associate Professor of English, Bates College), moderated by Julia Miele Rodas.

Sponsored by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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October 4, 2019, Time TBA ≡  University of California, Berkeley

Autistic Disturbances

Detail from Autistic Disturbances book jacketStay tuned!

Sponsored by the University of California–Berkeley Department of English.


May 17, 2019, 6:30-7:30pm ≡  Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gallery 922

Autism Aesthetics: A Conversation with Diana Paulin

Flat sculpture, grid containing black dotsDrawing on their respective work in autism studies, Julia Miele Rodas and Diana Paulin will explore the presence of autism poetics in two works on display as part of the Met’s Epic Abstraction exhibition. Beginning with Jennifer Bartlett’s “Squaring” (pictured right) and moving on to Thornton Dial’s “Shadows of the Field,” Rodas and Paulin will discuss autistic practices of collecting, sorting, ordering, and repeating, the ways in which these practices are evoked by these two pieces, and how the cultural responses to such practices are influenced by factors like race and diagnostic context.

Diana R. Paulin is Associate Professor of English and American Studies at Trinity College and author of the award-winning Imperfect Unions: Staging Miscegenation U.S. Drama and Fiction (U Minnesota Press, 2012). She is currently working on a book about Black Autism.

Sponsored by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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April 25, 2019, 6:00-8:00pm ≡  Binghamton University, FA 258

Autism Poetics & the Problem of Intentionality

miscellaneous contents of my son's pockets one random dayWhile research on autism has sometimes focused on special talents or abilities, autism is typically characterized as impoverished or defective when it comes to language. Autistic Disturbances reveals the ways interpreters have failed to register the real creative valence of autistic language and offers a theoretical framework for understanding the distinctive aesthetics of autistic rhetoric and semiotics. Reinterpreting characteristic autistic verbal practices such as repetition in the context of a more widely respected literary canon, the book argues that autistic language is actually an essential part of mainstream literary aesthetics. In addition to offering an overview of the central argument of the book, this talk will speak directly to the contested issue of autistic “intentionality,” arguing that the tensions around this question are part of what Melanie Yergeau sees as “a project of dehumanization.”

Sponsored by the Binghamton University Comparative Literature Department and the Graduate Student Organization.

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April 11, 2019, 1:00-4:30pm ≡  Lehman College, Library Conf Room 213

What is “Normal”?

Poster for Keep the Change film

Join us for a screening of Keep the Change, a charming romantic comedy and a refreshingly honest story about sex, love, disability, relationships, and personal values set right here in New York City. David meets Sarah attending a day program after getting in trouble with the law. It looks like the budding romance will be good for both of them, but David’s parents object. They call Sarah a gold-digger and look down on her because of her learning disability. Will David do the right thing and follow his heart? Does Sarah stay with David after he insults her?

Stay after the film for conversation with Julia Miele Rodas and Lehman College students about the film, including questions of sexual independence and consent for people with disabilities.