September 5, 2018 ≡ 6:30-7:30pm ≡ CUNY School for Professional Studies

“Because the Butterfly”: Autistic Disturbances of Language and Rhetoric

model buildings of Peter Fritz
model buildings of Peter Fritz from a 2016 exhibition at the New Museum

[book launch & signing for Autistic Disturbances: Theorizing Autism Poetics from the DSM to Robinson Crusoe]

Arguing that autistic expression has been an important contributing factor in many texts, this talk offers an overview of the c​entral themes of Autistic Disturbances, exploring how autistic verbal expression has frequently been miscast as waste and looking at the fundamental aesthetic and creative value of autistic language. Taking an autism positive approach, Dr. Rodas looks at the ways autistic rhetorics thread through and enhance the richness and vibrancy of shared human language.

co-sponsored by the CUNY Disability Scholars; the Columbia University Seminar in Disability, Culture & Society; the Futures Initiative & the CUNY Graduate Center Program in Music–thanks!

October 1, 2018 ≡  5:00-6:15pm ≡ Fordham University, Lincoln Center Campus (McMahon 109 )

For the Love of Lists: Autism and Literary List Writing

Linnaeus--Systema Naturae--vol vThe language of lists and catalogues is a distinctively autistic form of rhetoric and autism-world is populated by inveterate listmakers, coders, framers, categorizers, collectors, and organizers. While this system aesthetic is prized in many circles, however, such patterning is frequently devalued in the larger culture. List writing is dismissed as banal, vacant, meaningless, or obsessive; indeed, there is a robust cultural association between system aesthetics and totalitarian thinking. This talk will push back against the judgment of literary, cultural, and medical authorities to explore the poetics of list-making from an autism-positive perspective, as a technique imbued with surprising complexity, creativity, and flexibility.

This is part of Fordham University’s Seminar on Disability Research across Disciplines, a seminar series organized by the Faculty Working Group on Disability and funded by the Provost’s Office. The event will have ASL interpretation and will be wheelchair accessible.

RSVP at this link. Contact Fordham for any disability access or accommodation question at

October 4, 2018 ≡  4:00-6:00pm ≡ Bronx Community College, New Library (room 314)

Frankenstein & Disability

Frankenstein's Creature in his hovel
Frankenstein’s Creature in his hovel; credit: Bernie Wrightson

This year marks the 200th birthday of Frankenstein, Mary Shelley’s famous novel, and all over the world, fans are celebrating by looking back on the impact of the story and the different ways it has been told and retold. This talk will focus on Frankenstein from a disability studies perspective, looking critically at the way Frankenstein’s Creature has been interpreted in popular culture—as a “monster,” an outcast, and as an oppressed minority. In addition to discussing the importance of the creature, Dr. Rodas’ talk will also focus on specific uses of language and storytelling structure in Mary Shelley’s book, pointing out how some of these features echo autistic ways of speaking. In the end, she will show that it is not only the Creature who can be understood from a disability perspective, but that the novel itself speaks with a “disabled” voice.

part of English Department Faculty Lecture Series at Bronx Community College

November 1, 2018 ≡  Lehman College

Frankenstein & Disability: A Reprise