What literature shows us about the futures of neurodivergent communication

A talk exploring the way that people with 'recognisable' cognitive differences are represented and working towards increased recognition and respect of our embodied differences for the benefit of all

Anna Stenning from the School of English presents the next lecture in the Equality and Inclusion series. This is a talk about the cultural meanings of neurodivergence, focusing on the way that people with autism, ADHD, dyslexia are other ‘recognisable’ cognitive differences are represented in literary and cultural narratives, with a focus on works that suggest alternative communication practices. 

The idea for the talk itself comes from the COVID-19 lockdown, which has given some of us new opportunities to share ideas that help us connect without placing additional burdens on sensory processing and personal resources. Since access to high-speed internet and private space are unevenly distributed, this talk presents other possible solutions to the challenges of communicating across neurotypes through a selection of novels and other media that narrate experiences of neurodivergence and disability more generally. These cultural products indicate that fast-paced spoken communication according to pre-designed rules may limit or preclude certain ways of knowing and relating, therefore reinforcing existing hierarchies, which creates barriers to finding solutions for societal challenges.

The work I've chosen present imaginative solutions to the demands of communicating in new contexts and environments and they demonstrate the need for us to pay attention to a wider range of reading practices and genres. The aim of this talk is to contribute to conversations about how we may research, teach and evaluate our work with increased recognition and respect for our embodied differences, for the benefit of everyone in higher education.  

You can join the lecture at 14:00 on 29 April via this Microsoft Teams link.