Imagining autism : fiction and stereotypes on the spectrum / Sonya Freeman Loftis.

By: Loftis, Sonya Freeman, 1983-Material type: TextTextSeries: JSTOR eBooksPublisher: Bloomington : Indiana University Press, 2015Description: 1 online resourceContent type: text Media type: computer Carrier type: online resourceISBN: 9780253018137; 0253018137Subject(s): Stereotypes (Social psychology) | American fiction -- History and criticism | English fiction -- History and criticism | Identity (Psychology) in literature | Autistic people in literatureAdditional physical formats: Print version:: Imagining autism.DDC classification: 820.9/3561 LOC classification: PN3426.A87 | L64 2015Online resources: Click here to view this ebook.
Contents:
The autistic detective: Sherlock Holmes and his legacy -- The autistic savant: Pygmalion, Saint Joan, and the neurodiversity movement -- The autistic victim: Of mice and men and Flowers for Algernon -- The autistic gothic: To kill a mockingbird, The glass menagerie, and The sound and the fury -- The autistic child narrator: Extremely loud and incredibly close and The curious incident of the dog in the night-time -- The autistic label: diagnosing (and undiagnosing) The girl with the dragon tattoo -- Afterword.
Summary: "A disorder that is only just beginning to find a place in disability studies and activism, autism remains in large part a mystery, giving rise to both fear and fascination. Sonya Loftis's groundbreaking study turns to literary representations of autism or autistic behavior to discover what impact they have had on cultural stereotypes, autistic culture, and the identity politics of autism. Imagining Autism looks at literary characters (and an author or two) widely understood as autistic, ranging from Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, Shaw's St. Joan, Steinbeck's Lennie Small, and Harper Lee's Boo Radley to Mark Haddon's boy detective Christopher Boone and Steig Larsson's Lisbeth Salander. The silent figure trapped inside himself, the savant made famous by his other-worldly intellect, the brilliant detective linked to the criminal mastermind by their common neurology--in these works characters on the spectrum become protean symbols, stand-ins for the chaotic forces of inspiration, contagion, and disorder. These powerful fictional depictions, Loftis argues, are also part of the imagined lives of the autistic, sometimes for good, sometimes threatening to undermine self-identity and the activism of the autistic community"-- Provided by publisher.
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Includes bibliographical references and index.

The autistic detective: Sherlock Holmes and his legacy -- The autistic savant: Pygmalion, Saint Joan, and the neurodiversity movement -- The autistic victim: Of mice and men and Flowers for Algernon -- The autistic gothic: To kill a mockingbird, The glass menagerie, and The sound and the fury -- The autistic child narrator: Extremely loud and incredibly close and The curious incident of the dog in the night-time -- The autistic label: diagnosing (and undiagnosing) The girl with the dragon tattoo -- Afterword.

"A disorder that is only just beginning to find a place in disability studies and activism, autism remains in large part a mystery, giving rise to both fear and fascination. Sonya Loftis's groundbreaking study turns to literary representations of autism or autistic behavior to discover what impact they have had on cultural stereotypes, autistic culture, and the identity politics of autism. Imagining Autism looks at literary characters (and an author or two) widely understood as autistic, ranging from Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, Shaw's St. Joan, Steinbeck's Lennie Small, and Harper Lee's Boo Radley to Mark Haddon's boy detective Christopher Boone and Steig Larsson's Lisbeth Salander. The silent figure trapped inside himself, the savant made famous by his other-worldly intellect, the brilliant detective linked to the criminal mastermind by their common neurology--in these works characters on the spectrum become protean symbols, stand-ins for the chaotic forces of inspiration, contagion, and disorder. These powerful fictional depictions, Loftis argues, are also part of the imagined lives of the autistic, sometimes for good, sometimes threatening to undermine self-identity and the activism of the autistic community"-- Provided by publisher.

Print version record.

Reviews provided by Syndetics

Library Journal Review

In this scholarly review of fictional works featuring characters who are autistic or whom the reader suspects may be somewhere on the autism spectrum, Loftis examines a wide range of topics, including autism spectrum disorders (ASD); cultural stereotypes; disability culture, especially ASD culture; and disability identity activism. Drawing from such works as Arthur Conan Doyle's The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, and Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the author shows the cultural appeal of those who think differently and how they find their place in society. The influence of literature on the way people with ASD and other disabilities are viewed by others and whether this leads to how these individuals are regarded by society as a whole have not been critically studied. Loftis aims to foster an increased awareness of fictional characters with ASD and other neurological differences, which she hopes will in turn bring about a greater acceptance of those with ASD and knowledge within the field of disability studies. Verdict In examining the concerns and misconceptions that drive depictions of people with ASD, Loftis sheds light on the representations that can lead to discrimination against those who have related conditions. Appropriate for larger libraries and university libraries with literature and disability studies departments.-Lisa Jordan, Johnson Cty. Lib., Overland Park, KS © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

CHOICE Review

Loftis (English, Morehouse College) integrates disability studies with critical cultural and literary studies. She first looks at Sherlock Holmes, who is often read as an autistic savant bereft of human feeling, and at how recent television/film detectives who hark back to Holmes perpetuate harmful stereotypes, in particular associating autism spectrum disorders with criminality. Loftis goes on to look at playwright Bernard Shaw, who has been appropriated by the autism-spectrum community, and claims to neurodiversity, not disability, perpetuating the savant stereotype; Of Mice and Men, which associates cognitive impairment with animality, and Flowers for Algernon, which exposes the "cure or kill" orientation toward cognitive disabilities, representing autistic people as victims lacking subjectivity; To Kill a Mockingbird, depicting the non-neurotypical as monstrosity in the autistic gothic; Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, which despite progressive representation of the autistic child uses the autistic as symbol of family instability while autism remains a tragic trope; and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo's protagonist Lisbeth Salandar, reading her as having Asperger's syndrome. The overarching theme endorses neurodiversity--reading autism not as absence but as presence and source of agency. Very useful for those interested in disability studies, cultural studies, and literature. Summing Up: Recommended. Graduate students, researchers, faculty. --Jennifer L. Croissant, University of Arizona

Author notes provided by Syndetics

Sonya Freeman Loftis is Assistant Professor of English at Morehouse College, where she specializes in Shakespeare and disability studies. Her work has appeared in Disability Studies Quarterly, Shakespeare Bulletin, SHAW: The Annual of Bernard Shaw Studies, and South Atlantic Review.

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