November, 2016

Research Proposal

(I have yet to read some sources in full so this list is subject to change)

My primary sources will consist of:

  • Haddon, Mark. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
  • Silberman, Steve. NeuroTribes
  • Higashida, Naoki. The Reason I Jump
  • Mukhopadhyay, Tito. How can I talk if my lips don’t move?

I’m looking for educational aspects in the literary texts I included. Christopher Boone spends a lot of time in his “special” school; Mukhopadhyay is mostly educated by his mother; I’m in the process of reading both Higashida and Silberman but I’m sure education will pop up.

Here are some questions that arise from these texts:

  • Is the inclusion of autistics in mainstream classes beneficial or detrimental to both “types” of students?
  • What are some arguments about including a neurodivergent outlook in a “normal” classroom setting?
  • How might this affect the neurodiversity movement?
  • Does excluding neurodivergents in mainstream classrooms increase the stigmas against them?
  • How can we bring neurodiversity into a strict classroom curriculum?

Possible secondary sources:

  • Armstrong, Thomas. Neurodiversity in the classroom, Developing and Evaluating Educational Programs for Students with Autism
  • Brantlinger, A. Ellen. Who Benefits from Special Education?
  • Magyar, I. Caroline. Developing and Evaluating Educational Programs for Students with Autism
  • Franklen, Fred & Wood, J. Jeffrey. Social Skills Success for Students with Autism/Asperger’s: How to Teach Conversation Skills, Prevent Meltdowns, and Help Kids Fit In
  • Luiselli, K. James, Russo, C. Dennis, Christian, P. Walter, and Wilczynski, M. Susan. Effective Practices for Children with Autism: Educational and Behavioral support interventions that work

These are textbooks. Some include academic articles in them that go beyond or are perfectly compatible for my topic. I’ll definitely use one or two reviews on Curious Incident, both the novel and the play, especially Olear’s review on Haddon’s novel and the blog post on the topic. There are also some arguments on including Curious Incident in the classroom and it being banned. I’ll also try and find sources that are based on experiments of neurodivergents in mainstream classrooms. (More to come).

A personal motive for researching this topic is that it will help me as a future educator if I were to ever come across this situation. I have yet to come across opposing views of neurodivergents in a classroom, but I’m sure if there are current debates behind this topic it will strengthen my paper and allow me to contribute to the conversation. This topic may also seem insignificant to the public eye but it is important to the neurodiversity movement and educators as well.

Know Your Role – Kinesic communication in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Researching historically has always made texts easier to read and remains one of my favorite aspects of a research process. While reading Bolen’s “Face-Work and Ambiguous Feats in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight,” it didn’t occur to me how important gestures and knowing one’s role in society during this time was.

To understand his article better, Bolen talks about Gawain not resisting the agreement between Green Knight because of trawthe, the “truth, trustworthiness, and honor” of  Gawain and how important trawthe is in this text. He continues to say that trawthe ” refers to the validity and reliability of a person’s given word, and it pertains to a concept of the truth that cannot be dissociated from social bonds” (Bolen, 123). This idea of trawthe comes a long way from the beginning to the end and is arguably the plot, climax, and resolution of the text.

Bolen breaks down the text into three stages: “First, we are given to witness Gawain’s diplomatic art when he defends King Arthur’s honor at Camelot. An eerie knight bursts into the castle, humiliates the king, and Gawain intervenes to save the day… In the second stage of the narrative, Gawain travels in search of the Green Knight to fulfill his promise and mission… The third stage of the narrative is the conclusive confrontation with the Green Knight, where Gawain proves willing and able to offer his neck to the axe” (125-126). These three stages define Gawain’s capacity of following trawthe. Gawain intervenes to save his King; travels to complete his mission; and proves himself to the Green Knight, passing the game.

Following this term, Bolen goes on to explain the gestures, or kinesic communication, of the characters. The OED deines Kinesic as “Of or pertaining to communication effected non-vocally through movements or gestures (kinesic, adj., OED). He discusses the Green Knight’s “absence of reaction” to King Arthur’s gestures by commenting on his beard stroking and undressing, “the act of stroking one’s beard and straightening or smoothing one’s coat instead of maintaining a state of alertness and preparing to fight constitutes an attack more dire against Arthur’s worthiness and honorability than any other threat…” (127). Bolen is suggesting that the Green Knight’s unpredicted bodily gestures is a bigger threat than being alert and preparing a fight. This made me think o Conor McGregor (the famous Irish UFC fighter) and how he acts in pre and post-fight interviews. Instead of talking about tactics, training, and conditioning, McGregor attacks his opponent by laughing and not physically touching them, but taking items in their vicinity and mocking them. Like the Green Knight, rather than preparing for a battle, he makes himself comfortable by taking his coat off. As far as the beard stroking goes, Bolen believes it to be “complex because of its interactional context” (127). Stroking one’s beard is complex to read. It could either represent thinking, physical irritation, a stimulating pleasure, etc

This reading had me thinking about social gestures we use everyday. One can bob their head back and forth if we see them wearing headphones but if the headphones are absent their called crazy. Flapping hands is a common stimming pleasure for autistics, yet when we see someone shaking their leg constantly while sitting that’s a normal type of stimming. When teaching ESL students teachers depend on kinesic communication to make sure the student comprehends the work easier. Gestures is another type of communication that unfolds various types of meanings. I didn’t expect to take Sir Gawain this far, but reading the text this way had me thinking of other texts and I just got myself tied into this idea.

An English Major’s epiphany

I’m enjoying Hayot’s The Elements of Academic Style. Chapters 8 & 9 create a formula for a more organized structure that will keep one’s reader engaged. Ever since I was introduced to the 1-5 levels I haven’t stopped rating article’s sentences and paragraphs. Hayot’s book as a whole capitulates what academic papers should consist of.

In Representing Autism, we can see how Murray structures his paragraph to grasp the reader’s attention and allow his paper to flow. He opens with familiar impressions of autism through autistics such as Grandin, Baggs, and Williams, and juxtaposes their experiences with other novels. By doing this, Murray opens up his second paragraph by writing “the places where autistic lives do not show this kind of range are, of course, those created from outside the condition itself” (Murray, 45). These first two paragraphs follow “the Uneven U” system by Hayot. A 4 in the opening: Murray uses “less general; oriented toward a problem; pulls ideas together” by juxtaposing the writing of autistics with that of neuro-typicals (Hayot, 59). Murray then goes to level 2: introducing novels that hold representations of autism and examples within them.

Skipping ahead to the Bartleby section, Murray takes a glimpse in the past by saying that Curious Incident “is perhaps not the great literary text of autistic presence” and that Melville’s story should be “properly” given that role (Murray, 50). Murray tells his readers that “to choose a text from a period before autism was a diagnosable condition might seem counterintuitive…yet noting the processes through which autism was named and acquired its current diagnostic formations does not suppress the need to attempt to locate the ways in which the condition was represented before the 1940s” (Ibid). Murray understands that his research before autism was created is not common in this field of study but can still be nevertheless true. He defends how his argument may work by mentioning his introduction on retrospective diagnosis and how it is “a fraught process that is all too open to the abuse of the lazy claim, but it can also be a radical critical intervention that is enlightening in extending the parameters of how we understand and read disability” (Murray, 51). His claim, then, is used later on in the paragraphs that follow. By understanding other perspectives on researching autistic presence in literature before the disorder was created, Murray allows an argument to follow his claim but does not fully close his claim because of how valid it still is. Murray’s overall claim, then, is that ” ‘Bartleby the Scrivener’ presents a radical narrative of autistic presence, and that it does so some ninety years before the condition began to be recognized within the terms of clinical medicine…there are two aspects to this claim. The first is that the representation of Bartleby is recognizably that of an autistic individual and that the text offers a clear account of autistic behaviour. The narrator’s descriptions of Bartleby time and again echo the description of impairments – of communication, imagination and socialization – that would come to be central to twentieth-century outlines of autism. The second element to this claim is what we might call the critical consequences that come with the admission of the fact of a narrative autistic presence, namely the manner in which Bartleby’s subject position then determines the various analytical interpretations that can be mobilized in discussions of the story as a whole” (Ibid). Readers now get a sense that Murray has a singular claim that is broken up into two components and should be prepared to read examples of how each component fits into his overall claim.

As Murray gives examples from the text itself, he also adds other academics into the argument and their research on the novel. He brings up Rosemarie Garland-Thomson’s definition of a ‘normate’ and how it fits into his claim.  Murray also later sheds light on another claim by Wyn Kelly and Cindy Weinstein that aren’t on the same route as mental disorders but rather an economic difference within the text. By introducing these different perspectives, readers get an idea as to how Murray’s overall claim works just as well. I think this technique is a stretch off where he appears to be headed because it doesn’t follow his overall claim but can also be used as another defensive strategy for his argument that allows readers to understand the different perspectives ‘Bartleby’ represents.

Murray closes off his section III by saying “For all the metacritical status of the story, and all the provisionality of any reading of ‘Bartleby’, it is perfectly justifiable to prefer this reading of the conclusion” (Murray, 59). This closing tells the readers that his reason for bringing up other readings of ‘Bartleby’ is to show how his claim is “perfectly justifiable” and mentions how it is a “preference” not an overall fact.

Hayot’s book is actually helping me as a writer. I always think of a thesis but sometimes close the idea because of its counter-arguments which make me lose my overall motivation of writing the paper. I now understand that it’s perfectly fine to think of counter-arguments because it opens up more doors for my overall thesis. When writing an academic paper, one doesn’t have to suggest that their overall paper is a fact that must be read this way, it’s just one way of reading a text. Readers don’t have to agree, but it doesn’t make the overall claim invalid if the evidence shows that the text can be viewed in that particular way.

Autism is just confusing.

I’m sliding off the blog prompt just this once. Maybe.

Autism is confusing. I’m starting to refuse to use the term just because of my concerns about labeling. Mark Haddon’s blog about Curious Incident not being a novel about autism or Asperger’s is something I enjoyed. I refuse to consider anyone anything until a reasonable explanation on autism is answered in the questions of who, what, when, where, why, and how.

A TedTalk I watched recently addresses the importance of intelligence, education, and also the stigma against anyone who seems to be considered different because of the slightest detour in the neuro-typical world.

Ken Robinson says: “We know three things about intelligence. One, it’s diverse. We think about the world in all the ways that we experience it. We think visually, we think in sound, we think kinesthetically. We think in abstract terms, we think in movement. Secondly, intelligence is dynamic. If you look at the interactions of a human brain,as we heard yesterday from a number of presentations, intelligence is wonderfully interactive. And the third thing about intelligence is, it’s distinct.”

He tells an interesting story of a conversation with Gillian Lynne, choreographer of “Cats”and “Phantom of the Opera.”

“Anyway, Gillian and I had lunch one day and I said, ‘How did you get to be a dancer?’ It was interesting. When she was at school, she was really hopeless. And the school, in the ’30s, wrote to her parents and said, ‘We think Gillian has a learning disorder.’ She couldn’t concentrate; she was fidgeting. I think now they’d say she had ADHD. Wouldn’t you? But this was the 1930s, and ADHD hadn’t been invented at this point. It wasn’t an available condition.she went to see this specialist. So, this oak-paneled room, and she was there with her mother,and she was led and sat on this chair at the end, and she sat on her hands for 20 minutes while this man talked to her mother about the problems Gillian was having at school. Because she was disturbing people; her homework was always late; and so on, little kid of eight. In the end, the doctor went and sat next to Gillian, and said, ‘“I’ve listened to all these things your mother’s told me, I need to speak to her privately. Wait here. We’ll be back; we won’t be very long,’ and they went and left her.But as they went out of the room, he turned on the radio that was sitting on his desk. And when they got out, he said to her mother, ‘Just stand and watch her.’ And the minute they left the room, she was on her feet, moving to the music. And they watched for a few minutes and he turned to her mother and said,’“Mrs. Lynne, Gillian isn’t sick; she’s a dancer. Take her to a dance school.’ I said, ‘What happened?’ She said, ‘She did. I can’t tell you how wonderful it was. We walked in this room and it was full of people like me. People who couldn’t sit still. People who had to move to think.’ Who had to move to think. They did ballet, they did tap, jazz; they did modern; they did contemporary.She was eventually auditioned for the Royal Ballet School; she became a soloist; she had a wonderful career at the Royal Ballet. She eventually graduated from the Royal Ballet School, founded the Gillian Lynne Dance Company, met Andrew Lloyd Webber. She’s been responsible for some of the most successful musical theater productions in history, she’s given pleasure to millions, and she’s a multi-millionaire. Somebody else might have put her on medication and told her to calm down.”

It’s interesting how we try to get into other people’s minds. We are so caught up in these movements that speak about our external selves but the main engine for this external self is what is internal. I had a conversation with my friend the other day and she writes in a journal/diary but has not the slightest taste of the arts. She said that it’s hard for her to come up with a creative or fictional idea because she’s so embedded in speaking academically and needing a prompt before she can start writing. I found this interesting because I can type or write constantly and this writing forms a stream-of-consciousness where I think scenario after scenario in my writing process.

I had a conversation with my friend the other day and she writes in a journal/diary but has not the slightest taste of the arts. She said that it’s hard for her to come up with a creative or fictional idea because she’s so embedded in speaking academically and needing a prompt before she can start writing. I found this interesting because I can type or write constantly and this writing forms a stream-of-consciousness where I think scenario after scenario in my writing process. It just had me thinking that no matter how hard I tried to get her to see where the creativity process comes from, she isn’t going to understand it because she isn’t experiencing it.

Well, my post is just to open up a discussion and bring in new information. I enjoyed the reviews and I see the mixed feelings of the novel and theatrical representation but overall I think it’s just too hard to talk about autism. There is no limit to one’s mind.

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