talks

October 4, 2019, 10:00 am-12:00 pm ≡  University of California, Berkeley

Robinson Crusoe making an umbrellaAutism & Narrative Invention in Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe

Is the novel a form of autistic innovation? Presenting work from the recently published Autistic Disturbances (UMichP, 2018), Julia Miele Rodas will explore autistic dimensions of Robinson Crusoe. Interweaving conversation and formal reading, this talk will first consider how the novel’s themes of human isolation and imprisonment play into autism stereotypes. Ultimately, however, the audience will be invited to investigate the ways in which Crusoe’s narrative and semiotic innovations are grounded in autism poetics and indebted to autistic cognitive and aesthetic practices.

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

+ + + + + +

November 7-9, 2019 (Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts: Experimental Engagements) ≡  University of California, Irvine

Georges Perec, Inventories & Autism Poetics

Portrait of Georges Perec, back and white photoAn illustrated reading from Autistic Disturbances featuring a brief analysis of Georges Perec’s “Attempt at an Inventory of the Liquid and Solid Foodstuffs Ingurgitated by Me in the Course of the Year Nineteen Hundred and Seventy-Four” (1974). This brief talk, part of a panel on neurodiversity and literature, looks at autism’s devotion to taxonomy as interpretive and curatorial, challenging interpretive approaches that regard list and catalogue writing as vacant and mechanical. Perec’s “Inventory” seems designed to contain, suggesting purely materialist or economic concerns. At a glance, the “Inventory” offers an illusory logic, consumed items roughly grouped into like categories, cheeses, for instance, or pies and tarts. But amid this neat docility, categorical disturbances abound. By disassembling regular structure, language elements are made available as fragments. And the aesthetic that treats words and phrases as discrete modules, that plays with the thingness of language, that elevates the interstices—silences and punctuation—becomes remarkable not only for the ways in which it disharmoniously discomposes, but also for the ways in which it opens language for new and imaginative recomposition.


RECENT TALKS

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.

+ + + + + +

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.

+ + + + + +

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.

+ + + + + +

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.