Autism and Representation: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Autism and Representation

1st Edition

By Mark Osteen


316 pages

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Autism, a neuro-developmental disability, has received wide but often sensationalistic treatment in the popular media. A great deal of clinical and medical research has been devoted to autism, but the traditional humanities disciplines and the new field of Disability Studies have yet to explore it. This volume, the first scholarly book on autism in the humanities, brings scholars from several disciplines together with adults on the autism spectrum to investigate the diverse ways that autism has been represented in novels, poems, autobiographies, films, and clinical discourses, and to explore the connections and demarcations between autistic and "neurotypical" creativity. Using an empathetic scholarship that unites professional rigor with experiential knowledge derived from the contributors’ lives with or as autistic people, the essays address such questions as: In what novel forms does autistic creativity appear, and what unusual strengths does it possess? How do autistic representations--whether by or about autistic people--revise conventional ideas of cognition, creativity, language, (dis)ability and sociability? This timely and important collection breaks new ground in literary and film criticism, aesthetics, psychology, and Disability Studies.


"Osteen focuses on contemporary writing, offering astute and sensitive appraisals of a wide range of novels, parental accounts and autobiographies." -- Dr Michael Fitzpatrick, Spiked

"This book is an excellent resource for any scholar interested in disability studies and autism. It brings theory to bear on what may be called a cognitive disability, places the diagnosis of autism in a historical and cultural context, and addresses issues of representation (by self and other). The essays demonstrate, in their entirety, how wide the spectrum of what is being called autism is and alert us to the individuality of autistics." NYU Literature, Medicine and Arts Database

Table of Contents

Autism and Representation: A Comprehensive Introduction

Mark Osteen

I. Clinical Constructions

1. No Search, No Subject? Autism and the American Conversion Narrative

James T. Fisher

2. Bruno Bettelheim, Autism, and the Rhetoric of Scientific Authority

Katherine DeMaria Severson, James Arnt Aune, and Denise Jodlowski

3. Constructing Autism: A Brief Genealogy

Majia Holmer Nadesan

II. Autistry

4. Autism and Modernism: A Genealogical Exploration

Patrick McDonagh

5. Autism and the Imagination

Bruce Mills

6. Fractioned Idiom: Poetry and the Language of Autism

Kristina Chew

7. Imagination and Awareness of Self in Autistic Spectrum Poets

Ilona Roth

8. Human, but More So: What the Autistic Brain Tells Us about the Process of Narrative Matthew K. Belmonte

III. Autist Biography

9. Crossing Over: Writing the Autistic Memoir

Debra Cumberland

10. (M)Othering and Autism: Maternal Rhetorics of Self-Revision

Sheryl Stevenson

11. Urinetown: A Chronicle of the Potty Wars

Mark Osteen

IV. Popular Representations

12. Recognizing Jake: Contending with Formulaic and Spectacularized Representations of Autism in Film

Anthony D. Baker

13. Hollywood and the Fascination of Autism

Stuart Murray

14. Film as a Vehicle for Raising Consciousness among Autistic Peers

Phil Schwarz

15. Alterity and Autism: Mark Haddon’s Curious Incident in the Neurological Spectrum James Berger 425

16. Mark Haddon’s Popularity and Other Curious Incidents in My Life as an Autistic

Gyasi Burks-Abbott

Conclusion: Toward an Empathetic Scholarship

Mark Osteen



About the Author

Mark Osteen is Professor of English and Director of Film Studies at Loyola College in Maryland.

About the Series

Routledge Research in Cultural and Media Studies

Cultural and media studies are now well-established as important academic disciplines and are inspiring new research into a wide range of pertinent issues. This series presents outstanding research in these subjects, helping to shape the direction of future inquiry.


To submit a proposal for this series, please contact:
Suzanne Richardson, Commissioning Editor for Media, Cultural and Communication Studies

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Media Studies