Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies

Geniuses without Imagination

Discourses of Autism, Ability, and Achievement

Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies (2015), 9, (1), 71–88.

Abstract

The expectation of genius in autistic people is becoming commonplace, largely due to the prevalence of stories of overcoming and achievement in popular representations of autism as well as the market for autistic personal narratives. Genius and savant abilities are more readily attributed to neurological abnormality than to genuine creativity and work. Though the artistic work of people with autism has the potential to challenge existing clinical beliefs about imaginative deficits in people with autism, it is often described in pathological terms. The article reads personal narratives of autism against theories of deficit to deconstruct the composite stereotype of the autistic genius without imagination. It calls upon disability studies scholars to revise the ableist implications of the term genius as it is presently applied, and to reclaim definitions of the term that service diversity and empowerment.

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Author details

Quirici, Marion