Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies

On autistic presence

Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies (2008), 2, (1), 1–10.

Abstract

The article seeks to assert the centrality of an idea of autistic presence when considering the representations of the condition in the contemporary period. Focusing on the autistic rights advocate Amanda Baggs and the writer Donna Williams, it begins by charting the ideas of an autistic presence that arise in the foundational clinical writings of Leo Kanner and Hans Asperger, noting the ways in which the children in their studies became particular objects of enquiry, but also that a sense of their presence–a form of personal excess–clearly escapes the clinical gaze. From here, the article moves to analyse the idea of autistic life narratives, considering Baggs's representation of herself in her various internet videos and blogs, and Williams's portrayal of her condition in her published autobiographies. In conclusion, the article argues for an understanding of autism that resists the easy attempts to render the condition metaphorical or the subject of fascination.

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Author details

Murray, Stuart