CFP: ‘Autism Narratives’ Special Issue of Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies

Journal: Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies

Call for Papers for Special Issue: Autism Narratives

Guest Editors: Stuart Murray (English, University of Leeds) & Mark Osteen (English, Loyola University Maryland)

2018 will mark the 10th anniversary of the publication of two major studies on the cultural representations of autism, Stuart Murray’s monograph Representing Autism: Culture, Narrative, Fascination and Mark Osteen’s edited collection Autism and Representation. In the intervening years, autism representation has proliferated across media and been re-configured diagnostically in the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM-V. This special issue asks: what current topics shape the cultural conversations around autism? Has the greater profile of the condition over the last ten years led to improvements in the ways it is discussed and greater sophistication in its representations? Have increases in cross-and multi-disciplinary academic work produced more nuanced accounts of autism experiences? Where does the condition fit in recent developments in Disability Studies? In short, do we now know better what is meant by an ‘autism narrative’?

Possible topics include (but are not limited to):

  • – Autism in fiction, film, and life-narratives
  • – Autism and the visual arts
  • – Music and autism
  • – DSM-V and changes in autism diagnosis; the ‘disappearance’ of Asperger’s syndrome
  • – Autism and popular media
  • – Theorising autism
  • – Medical discourses of autism
  • – Autism and social communities
  • – Autism and technology
  • – Autism and inter/dependence and care
  • – Autism and cultural, ethnic and racial diversity

Please email a one-page proposal to s.f.murray@leeds.ac.uk and mosteen@loyola.edu by February 28, 2017. Contributors can expect to be selected and notified by March 31, 2017. (Full drafts of the selected articles will be due on December 15, 2017). Please direct any questions to either guest editor. We welcome contributions from autistic/neuro-atypical persons.


Reminder: Next DRF Seminar – Weds. 10th December 2014: 10am-12pm

Details for the next DRF seminar are below. All welcome. And if you’d like to present at an upcoming seminar, please do let us know – available slots can be seen here.

Wednesday 10th December, 10am-12pm, Room 100009 (Arundel Building, Sheffield Hallam University)

Slot 1: Joanna Baker-Rogers: Asperger Syndrome – experiencing the phenomenon of friendship (Sheffield Hallam University, UK)

Abstract: As the mother of a son with the label of Asperger Syndrome (AS), I have observed my son enjoying friendships with peers both on the autism spectrum and non-disabled. These observations would appear to challenge the diagnostic view that persons with AS do not enjoy friendship. Instead they prefer solitary activities and being alone. This conceptualisation of the autism spectrum embodies the medical model of disability and in-particular the Triad of Impairments (Wing 1995). The literature is dominated by understandings of friendship of non-disabled people (O’Dell, Bertildotter Rosqvist and Brownlow (2013). There is little consideration of potential autistic friendships from a social model of disability perspective. Instead the focus is on the failure of persons with AS to aspire to and maintain friendships with the aim of improving themselves to experience friendship from a non-disabled perspective.  I have come to question whether concepts of friendship are being imposed upon persons with AS that have little meaning for them, are disabling and embody the concepts of normalcy (Abberley 1991) and ableism (Campbell 2012).

The medical model of disability view of persons with AS not being interested in friendship needs to be problematised. This presentation of my research critiques these misconceptions that have emerged as a result of social barriers in society. My research aims to capture the different and valid lived experience of friendship for persons with AS that challenges the conceptualisation of the autism spectrum as a tragedy for the individual and their family.

Slot 2: Chris Hill: Special School Sporting Experiences: Listening to Student Researchers Labelled with Behavioural, Emotional and Social Difficulties (Sheffield Hallam University, UK)

Abstract: TBC.

DRF News

RDS New Issue features a Forum on “Popular Culture and Disability”

A few weeks old now but this post is better late than never!

From RDS:

We are pleased to announce the release of an amazing double issue of The Review of Disability Studies: An International Journal (RDS). Volume 10, Issues 1&2 marks the 10th anniversary of the publication of RDS. We look forward to 10 more years of excellence in the field of disability studies!

This issue contains a forum on “Popular Culture and Disability” guest edited by Holly Manaseri and Raphael Raphael. Forum authors explore everything from freak show discourse in XMen films to Lady Gagas use of disability imagery. The forum is followed by a diverse line-up of research articles lead by an article on gender, marriage and disability in Jordan co-authored by Salam Jalal & Susan Gabel.

Subscriptions to RDS start at only $25.00 for students. The print version is available only to subscribers. Don’t forget to check out our blog and Facebook page. Happy reading! 

Volume 10, Issues 1 & 2 (Copyright 2014)

Table of Contents

Editorial: Isolation: A Diary of Subtle Discrimination – Megan A. Conway, PhD, RDS Managing Editor

Forum: Popular Culture and Disability – Guest Editors Holly Manaseri, PhD, Hawaii State Department of Education, USA and Raphael Raphael, PhD, University of Hawaii, Manoa, USA

Forum Editors Introduction p. 6

Forum Articles

The Legacy of 19th Century Popular Freak Show Discourse in the 21st Century X-Men Films – Fiona Pettit, PhD, Exeter University, United Kingdom 

Keep It Right – Homeland: The Female Body, Disability, and Nation – Joëlle Rouleau, University of Montreal, Canada

Body Vandalism: Lady Gaga, Disability, and Popular Culture – Christopher R. Smit, PhD, Calvin College, USA

Precarious Inclusions; Re-Imagining Disability, Race, Masculinity and Nation in My Name is Khan – Nadia Kanani, York University, Canada

Research Articles

Physical Disability, Gender, and Marriage in Jordanian Society – Salam Jalal, EDD & Susan Gabel, PhD, Chapman University, USA 2

Employment Outcomes for Young Adults With Autism Spectrum Disorders – Ashleigh Hillier, PhD & Monica Galizzi, PhD, University of Massachusetts, USA 

Audio Description In Italy: An Anecdote Or A Social Integration Policy? – María Valero Gisbert, University of Parma, Italy 

Trends Toward the Integration and Inclusion of Students with Disabilities in Russia – S.V. Alehina, PhD, Institute on Inclusive Education, Moscow, Russia & Debra Cote, PhD, Erica J. Howell, PhD, Vita Jones, PhD, & Melinda Pierson, PhD, California State University, USA

Creative Works

Lucky to Be Here – Felicia Nimue Ackerman, Brown University, USA

Book and Media Reviews

The Book of Goodbyes: Poems by Jillian Weise – Reviewed by Johnson Cheu, PhD, Michigan State University, USA 

Writing Disability: A Critical History by Sara Newman – Reviewed by Dax Garcia, University of Hawaii, USA 

A Life Without Words, Directed by Adam Isenberg – Reviewed by Amanda McLaughlin, University of Hawaii, USA 

Shakin’ All Over: Popular Music and Disability by George McKay – Reviewed by Steven E. Brown, University of Hawaii, USA 

Disability Studies Dissertation Abstracts

Jonathon Erlen, University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA


DRF News

Symposium: Disability and Austerity: Pan-national Reflections (May, 2014: Sheffield, UK)

Event: Symposium: Disability and Austerity: Pan-national Reflections

Date/Time: 8th May 2014   2pm-5pm

Venue: University of Sheffield – Education Building, Room 1.02. http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/maps/education

Description: The symposium will include the following brief presentations to spark debate and conversation:

  • Dan Goodley (University of Sheffield, UK): Defining and contesting austerity
  • Nick Hodge (Sheffield Hallam University, UK): The impact of austerity on the aspirations of people with autism
  • Katherine Runswick Cole (Manchester Metropolitan University, UK): Cruel optimism and disability
  • Susana Rojas Pernia (University of Cantabria, Spain): Disability barriers in Spain
  • Rebecca Lawthom (Manchester Metropolitan University, UK): Revolting subjects and austerity

If you would like to attend please email d.goodley@sheffield.ac.uk

If you like the sound of this… also consider coming to the May DRF seminar. Details below.

Wednesday, 7th May 2014: 10.30am-12.30pm – Arundel 10111 (SHU)

Slot 1:  Joshua Sawiuk (Univ of Leeds, UK): The Importance of the Social Life for Disabled Students in Higher Education

Slot 2: Charlotte Jones (Univ. of Sheffield, UK): Intersex and/as Disability: Exploring the tensions between identity, medicalisation and social justice

DRF News

New Publication: Special Issue on “Translating Happiness: Medicine, Culture and Social Progress”

The special issue of the journal Health, Culture and Society, “Translating Happiness: Medicine, Culture and Social Progress” has just been published and is available through open access.

The issue includes:

Editorial Introduction ~ K. Aubrecht

Encounters with Translations of Happiness ~ T. Titchkosky

The Neoliberal Circulation of Affects: Happiness, accessibility and the capacitation of disability as wheelchair ~ K. Fritsch

As If You Have a Choice: Autism mothers and the remaking of the human ~ P. N. Douglas

Alterity In/Of Happiness: Reflecting on the radical possibilities of unruly bodies ~ E. Chandler and C. Rice

A link to the issue table of contents is included below. PDFs can be downloaded by clicking on “PDF” (on the right side of the page).




DRF News

Event: Meeting the Challenge of Behaviour (Nov, 2013: Sheffield, UK)

Event: Meeting the Challenge of Behaviour

Date: Friday 8th November 2013: 9.30am – 1.00pm

Venue: Double Tree Hotel, Chesterfield Road South, Sheffield, S8 8BW

Description: This event is sponsored by the Economic & Social Research Council for the ESRC Festival of Social Science. It is hosted by The Autism Centre, Sheffield Institute of Education at Sheffield Hallam University in partnership with Fusion Teaching School Alliance, Holgate Meadows and Heritage Park.

All welcome. This event is FREE!

Please register at http://www.shu.ac.uk/esrcfestival

Focus of the event: The problem of behaviour can often become mislocated within individual children and young people, viewed as part of their ‘condition’ rather than as a relationship issue between the young person, the people around him/her and the environments in which they are situated. Children and families become labelled as challenging and behavioural strategies can often become restrictive, punitive or exclusionary. This then threatens the inclusion agenda. The focus of this event will be to review what social science research reveals about the notion of ‘problem behaviour’ and to explore how this information can lead us to more positive and enabling strategies of support.


  • Amanda Costello—Deputy Head at Talbot Specialist School – welcome and introductions
  • Dr Nick Hodge—Reader in Education, Childhood and Inclusion – ‘What does research tell us about effective practice in meeting the challenge of behaviour?’ and discussion.
  • Tony Middleton— Executive Head of Holgate Meadows and Heritage Park – ‘Working in partnership with parents and carers whose children demonstrate behaviours that challenge’ and discussion

 For more info contact: Dr Nick Hodge: n.s.hodge@shu.ac.uk

DRF News

Event: “beyond autism: re-thinking the label” (Nov, 2013: UK)

Title: beyond autism: re-thinking the label 

Where: Stoddart Building (Ground Floor), Howard Street, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, S1 1WB

When: Saturday 9th November 2013: 1.30pm – 4.30pm

The Event: The number of people being diagnosed with autism is growing, at this event we ask is this a good thing for people labelled with autism?  The discussion will focus on the controversies surrounding the use of autism as a label to explain the ways in which people behave. This event will be of interest to a general audience and is part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science.

The Programme:

Chaired by Prof. Dan Goodley.  Tea/Coffee on arrival for 1.30pm start.

1.30pm:       Presentations: “What autism means to me: A mother’s view” by Katherine Runswick-Cole and ” What do we know about the biology of autism?” by Sami Timimi

2.00pm:       Discussion I

2.30pm:       Presentations:  “Questions of Treatment” by Graham Collins; “Buying and Selling Autism: The Label as Commodity” by Rebecca Mallett and “A social-materialist approach to understanding and working with people who have been given an ASD diagnosis” by Paul Moloney

3.00pm:       Discussion II

3.30pm:       Tea/Coffee Break

4.00pm:       Plenary (Discussant, Tom Muskett)

4.30pm:       Finish         

DRF News, Events and Conferences

CFP: Autistic Spectrum People and Religion Research Group (ASPARRG) Seminar Day

Event: Seminar Day at University of Glasgow, UK

Date: 5th October 2013

Hosted by: Autistic Spectrum People and Religion Research Group (ASPARRG)

Brief Description: ASPARRG emerged from a joint initiative by staff at the University of Aberdeen and Cardiff University to establish an inter-disciplinary network of academics and practitioners with a common interest in the many ways in which matters of religion/spirituality and the spectrum of autism conditions may intersect. Its members come from fields as diverse as anthropology, history of religions, psychiatry, nursing and health care, practical and disability theology, ethics and ICT, literary and cultural criticism and autism research. The Group normally meets at least once a year. In 2009 a double issue of the Journal of Religion, Disability and Health, on the subject of ‘Autism and Religion’, was the first published outcome of two workshops, funded by the British Academy, during 2007-2008.

ASPARRG would welcome papers/presentations on the following topics:

  • autism and religion(s)
  • autism and spirituality
  • autism, community and inclusion

Closing dates for abstracts (max 500 words): 20th September 2013

ASPARRG welcomes inquiries from academics or faith representatives interested in our work, and further information can be obtained by contacting the organisers.

Abstracts, booking and inquiries to: Ruth Dunster (r.dunster.1@research.gla.ac.uk) and
Christopher Barber (cfbarber@hotmail.com)

DRF News

Request for Interest in PhD project

Message from DRF Member: Jill Smith


I’m in the market for some families to collaborate with me in my PhD research project at Sheffield University. I’m coming towards my second year of study now and looking for parents and children who would be willing to share their experiences with me.

The project aims to explore the ways in which families talk about autism and their children, and how others around them speak about their child and autism too. I am hoping to broaden my understanding of the ways families involved in ‘autism’ perceive wider discussions of what autism means for their child and their lives.

I feel it would be useful to share a little of my background and motivations for undertaking this PhD to help you understand the direction I’m coming from and to help you decide if you would like to work with me.

My academic interest in this area is both personal and practical beginning in 2006 during a voluntary placement at The Toby Henderson Autism Trust in Northumberland as part of my undergraduate study. Having no prior experience of working with autistic children this time proved exciting, engaging and challenging. Returning to the academic world to see what ‘autism was all about’ I found myself troubled by how little I felt the written world of autism reflected the everyday world of working with autistic children that I experienced. I found it almost impossible to find anything written about the real, the personal, the everyday lives and relationships of autistic children and their families. I was overcome, and disappointed by what seemed to be the dominance of pessimism that seemed to cloud study after study.

I have continued to work with autistic children and their families throughout including summer play-­schemes and work within family homes. I feel that we need to listen more, explore more, and talk more about the lives of autistic children; their happiness, their relationships and their futures outside of the worlds of medicine and psychology, which is what brought me to my PhD studies.

It is with these motivations that I am hoping you would be interested in taking part in this project.  My aim is to work with you towards promoting new ways of talking about autism, autistic childhoods and the everyday value within their relationships and daily lives.

I’m looking for families that are willing to share their experiences and their time. I am hoping to spend time with you informally to talk through my project and to hear your stories about your children. I’d like to spend time with your child too and get to know you all in as relaxed and informal way as possible – I don’t want my research to become a burden or a further obligation in yours or your child’s lives. If you’d like to meet for a chat about what I’m doing and/or taking part that would be brilliant – or we can do it via email etc.

Thank you all in advance for taking the time and the interest to read this – I look forward to hearing from, and meeting some of you soon, I hope!


Contact Details:


Book launch: Autism: A Social and Medical History by Mitzi Waltz (Sheffield Hallam University)

Autism: A Social and Medical History contextualizes autism as a socio cultural phenomenon, and examines the often troubling effects of representations and social trends. Exploring the individuals and events in the history of this condition, Waltz blends research and personal perspectives to examine social narratives of normalcy, disability and difference.

Autism has often been seen as separate from other forms of impairment and negative attitudes towards people with autism and, in the past, their parents, have been prevalent. This book explores key research in the field as well as insight from parents and people with autism, the latter of whom have often had no voice in what is written about the history of autism.

This book will appeal to researchers and students in the fields of medical sociology, disability studies, and medical history as well as increasing public debates on autism.

Dr Mitzi Waltz will give a lecture on the topic: “The history of autism, and what we can learn from it”

Location: Owen 942, Howard St, Sheffield, South Yorkshire S1 1WB. For a map of City Campus click here.

Date: Tuesday 16th April

Time: 6.00pm-9.00pm

Open to all, no charge. If attending please email s.waller@shu.ac.uk