Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies

Creative Production and the Schizophrenia Spectrum

The Politics and Rhetorics of Inclusion

Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies (2019), 13, (3), 273–287.


The article explores how the inclusion of art-making and creative writing by people labeled on the schizophrenia spectrum, most often positioned as “Outsiders,” is characterized by medicalization, romanticization, marginalization, and commodification in historical and critical discourses. Beginning with Catherine Prendergast’s observation that mental disability results in being disabled rhetorically, the article asks how the art classroom and curriculum also become rhetorical spaces through which rhetorics like those identified by G. Thomas Couser in relationship to disability memoir, mainly rhetorics of triumph, horror, spiritual compensation, and nostalgia, can either be problematically replicated or challenged (Prendergast 57; Couser 33). It is suggested that dominant contemporary stigmatizing views about the schizophrenia spectrum impact the interpretation and teaching of these works. Specific recommendations are made for art educators who include artwork and writing by those labeled on the schizophrenia spectrum for constructing what Couser describes as a “rhetoric of emancipation” by disrupting an overly formalistic approach to the work through the inclusion of critical conversations about the historical medicalization and romanticization of these artists’ and writers’ work (33).

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Author details

Richardson, Jennifer (Eisenhauer)

Richardson, Jennifer (Eisenhauer)