Autism Aesthetics

Michael Bérubé in the Sydney Review of Books:

About 10 years ago, I began to get impatient with disability studies. The field was still relatively young, but it seemed devoted almost entirely to analyzing how disability was represented – in art, in culture, in politics, et cetera – especially in the case of physical disability. This, I thought, fell short of the field’s promise for literary studies. Where, I wondered, was the field’s equivalent of Epistemology of the Closet, the book in which Eve Sedgwick showed us how to ‘queer’ texts, such that we will never read a narrative silence or lacuna the same way again? Put another way: I wanted a book that showed how an understanding of disability changes the way we read.

Melanie Yergeau and Julia Miele Rodas have written that book I dreamed of a decade ago, but they’ve written it independently, as two books. Both writers start by challenging the premise that autism – as an intellectual concept and as a personal diagnosis – is antithetical to speech, rhetoric, and literature.

More here.