Aesthetics of autism? Contemporary representations of autism in literature and film

Tweed, Hannah Catherine (2015) Aesthetics of autism? Contemporary representations of autism in literature and film. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This thesis analyses representations of autism in twentieth and twenty-first century Anglo-American literature and film. It posits that, while many cultural portrayals of autism are more concerned with perpetuating the stereotypes surrounding the condition than with representing autistic experiences, there is evidence of a small but significant counter-current that is responding to and challenging more reductive representational modes. Each of my chapters examines prevailing narrative tropes that reinforce existing stereotypes of disability (narratives of overcoming, victimhood, dependency), which can be clearly evidenced in contemporary depictions of autism, from Barry Levinson’s Rain Man (1988) to Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (2003). In each case, a significant proportion of texts use the generic markers of autistic representation to question and subvert these more established literary and cinematic approaches. The twenty-first century authors discussed in this thesis repurpose and interrogate the prevailing stereotypes of autistic representations, and provide provocative considerations for the study of postmodernism, crime fiction, melodrama and autobiography. This critical crossover and the employment of genre tropes cross-examines the subversive potential of genre fiction and the significance of postmodernism as frameworks for examining depictions of autism. This thesis proposes that this crucial minority of texts embodies a writing forwards out of stereotypes of autistic representations, by both autistic and neurotypical authors, into new, twenty-first century representational patterns.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Due to copyright issues this thesis is not available for viewing. Access to the print version is available.
Keywords: Literature, film, disability studies, autism, Asperger's syndrome, medical humanities.
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0080 Criticism
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1993 Motion Pictures
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > English Literature
Supervisor's Name: Ferguson, Dr. Christine and Stoddart, Dr. Helen
Date of Award: 2015
Depositing User: Dr Hannah Catherine Tweed
Unique ID: glathesis:2015-5996
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 10 Feb 2015 12:08
Last Modified: 29 Oct 2019 11:38

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