Next DRF Session, 12th April

Friday, 12th April

Time: 11am – 1pm.

Place: 12.02.19 Charles Street Building, Sheffield Hallam University. City Campus

This is on the second floor of the Charles Street Building which is just next to Arundel where we held meetings last year.

Speaker 1: Richard Woods

Title: An Updated Interest Based Account (Monotropism theory) & a Demand Avoidance Phenomenon discussion.”


This talk explores recent literature on monotropism theory to explain Demand Avoidance Phenomenon (DAP). Previous DAP theory focuses on role of anxiety in producing a need for control that is suggested leads to demand avoidance. However, we provide an alternative view by situating in critical DAP scholarship, highlighting the uncertainty around the DAP construct. Utilising the work of Beardon (2017) to develop monotropism to elucidate how anxiety acts in autism & thus, DAP. Monotropism theory clarifies the nature DAP phenotype behaviour from a non-pathologising perspective, bringing DAP theory in line with common views of autistic persons. The theory adds to the epistemic integrity of DAP research & assist in closing the theory-to-research-to-practice gap. Consequently, generating accurate interpretations that can allow for use of suitable strategies.  

Speaker 2: David Hartley

Title: Autism, Replicants and Other Humans: Exploring Fantastical Neurodiversity with Blade Runner (1982)


The encounters of autism and the fantastical Other are fraught with adverse ideological implications wherein autistic individuals are cast as ‘aliens from another planet’ (Ian Hacking, 2009) or treated like ‘cold soulless automatons’ (Penny Winter, 2012). And yet, science-fiction and fantasy fandoms can be places of refuge and community for autistic people who are disaffected by an allistic (non-autistic) world, where neurodiverse heroes such as Spock from Star Trek and The Doctor from Doctor Who often reign supreme. And yet the genres themselves tend to avoid including characters coded as autistic in their narratives, thereby creating a conspicuous void in the cultural representation of autism.

Can the narrative strategies of science-fiction and fantasy be productively reconfigured to better suit the paradigms of neurodiversity? How might the presence of autism help us to rethink the theories of fantastical genres? Might we be able to root out autistic representation in futures and fantasies that have thus far avoided it? This talk will tackle a behemoth of science-fiction, Ridley Scott’s 1982 dystopia Blade Runner, to seek out the possibilities of its neurodiverse message and to find productive autism within its radical replicants. It will also take on the genre at the level of theory by confronting Darko Suvin’s ideas of the ‘cognitive estrangement’ of science-fiction (Suvin, 1979). It asks: exactly whose cognition does he refer to? And whose estrangement?


Monday 25th March

Time: 1pm – 3pm.

Place: 12.02.19 Charles Street Building, Sheffield Hallam University. City Campus

This is on the second floor of the Charles Street Building which is just next to Arundel where we held meetings last year.

Speaker 1: Petra Anders

Title: Promoting Inclusive Theatre Work and Dance Practice


This presentation discusses how Niko von Glasow’s play Alles wird gut [Everything will be Alright], the film Resilience and Inclusion: Dancers as Agents of Change, which is part of to the British Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funded project InVisible Difference: Dance, Disability and Law, and Ohad Naharin’s Gaga Movement Language contribute to inclusive theatre work and dance practice.

I investigate how rehearsal dynamics change, if the director of a play or choreographer of a dance performance are themselves disabled, and not only (some of) the actors or dancers. The inclusive potential of Naharin’s Gaga Movement Language, on the other hand, is based on in the fact that this method was not created for people with disabilities in order to give them the chance to dance, but can be used by dance professionals with and without disabilities as well as amateur dancers with and without disabilities.

All three approaches are stunning examples of how theatre work and dance practice (can) become more and more inclusive and diverse.

Speaker 2: Ciaran Burke

Title: “Repeat after me…”: dysfluency and the pursuit of gestalt.


Within social science research, identifying as a particular type of researcher carries with it certain assumptions about an individual’s personality type and approach to knowledge or epistemology. A researcher who opts for a quantitative approach to data collection and analysis is often understood to be more “scientific” or “good with numbers” whereas the qualitative researcher is a “people person” who enjoys talking with people and getting to know their respondents on a personal level in pursuit of understanding rather than explaining a phenomena.  Thus, to be a qualitative researcher, the researcher is expected to enjoy talking and be able to talk on demand without hesitation or pause, in other words be fluent.  The friction that this paper wishes to unpack is that between the assumption of ease of speech and dysfluency, in particular stammering, in the context of life history research.

Life history research covers a broad range of approaches to data collection and analysis. However, a particularly clear and at the same time dogmatic approach within this school is the biographical narrative interview method (BNIM).  Stemming from grounded theory, BNIM developed by Fritz Schütze (1992, 2008) and Rosenthal (2003, 2005) and Miller (2000, 2005) has offered an opportunity to conduct ethnographic research within an interview setting (Burke, 2011). As outlined in many of these texts, the BNIM has a set of very strict rules which surround the principle of “gestalt”, essentially preserving an individual’s narration and protecting it from as long as possible from the researchers’ interference.  Two central rules which allow this to happen are:

  • Once the initial narration question is asked, the researcher cannot interject or direct the narration either verbally or physically.
  • Once the initial narration has finished the researcher can ask questions but covering topics in the order the narration presented them and using the precise language used by the respondent. It is this second rule which presents issues for researchers who have a disability which affects fluency of speech. In this chapter I will first outline the sociological literature concerning speech dysfluency building on previous application of social theory to consider why stammering is such an issue within communication and why is it a site of ridicule and a marker of devaluation of that individual. I will then briefly set out the current landscape, within the UK, for academics who stammer. The chapter will then turn to outlining the specific mechanics of the BNIM and the rationale for its application within my own research. I will reflect on the issues I faced when balancing a lack of fluency and adhering to the strict rules of the BNIM. In addition, I will discuss ways in which the gestalt can be preserved within the BNIM while not requiring researchers to keep to the strict language parameters the method currently demands. As such, I will provide guidelines for future researchers who wish to engage with this method but would initially feel unable to meet its demands.