Christopher Griffin deposited Relationalities of Refusal: Neuroqueer Disidentification and Post-Normative Approaches to Narrative Recognition in the group American Literature on Humanities Commons 2 months, 1 week ago
The proliferation of work by autistic writers continues apace, defying a long and multidisciplinary tradition of constructing autistic people as lacking the capacity for narration. To study neurodivergent literature, then, is to witness the refusal of these exclusionary narrative conventions, and to register the ideological presuppositions that underpin pathologization. In this article, I engage with recent insights from Neurodiversity Studies to explore the connections between narrative neuronormativity and other discourses of oppression, especially those that have generated racialized, gendered, and colonial narratives of desubjectification. Focusing on the neuroqueer movement – an emergent practice of disidentification that refuses the interpellations of neuronormativity, ableism, heteronormativity, and cisnormativity – I discuss the concept of allism, arguing that this satirical critique of pathologization harbors a deconstructive force that denaturalizes the dialectic of recognition. Pursuing the discursive context and theoretical implications of this critique, I provide a short genealogy of narrative neuronormativity, connecting the operation of the dialectic in the early novel to the clinical texts of child psychology. To demonstrate the neuroqueer subversion of this tradition, I then read An Unkindness of Ghosts, by Rivers Solomon, a text that stages a disidentification with storytelling. Protagonist Aster’s neuroqueer refusal reveals a similarity between the construction of Blackness as an ontological foil for whiteness, and the construction of autism as a standard of disordered sociality that neuronorms can be measured against. My reading of Unkindness suggests that the extant techniques of literary narratorship are political instruments that will, unless repurposed, continue to disseminate these dispossessive dialectics.