I have been pondering the following CFP:
Normalcy as Dystopia: Disability Studies Perspectives
This panel welcomes submissions examining how British, American, or world literary texts fashion, reinforce, or subvert normative standards regarding what constitutes body form and function. Proposals addressing the SAMLA 88 theme are especially welcome: for people with disabilities, the hegemonic ideology of normalcy creates the dystopian reality within which they must live. This panel seeks submissions that focus less on texts containing disabled characters and more on ones exploring the ways in which societies disable individuals. Papers are welcome that investigate embodiment, bioculture, and/or what Rosemarie Garland-Thomson terms the “normate.” Papers analyzing discursive structures that contribute to shaping current thinking about ability and disability are particularly welcome. By June 3 please submit a 200-word abstract, brief bio, and A/V requirements to Dr. Chris Gabbard, University of North Florida, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Part of me is thinking of proposing a paper on Field Notes on Allistics or Fairies for the Almost Ethical Treatment of Humans (FAETH). The rest of me keeps rereading this CFP and thinking, “Dude, we are way ahead of you.”
Meaning: to give a papers on Field Notes, FAETH, or both, I would have to work backwards, explaining what the dystopian “normate” is that is being challenged by those projects. I would, in essence, have to dismantle the satire of both in order to explain its working parts, and in doing so, I would largely kill the power that satire has.
Satire has turned out to be one of the strongest weapons autistic people have in the fight for our rights, as well as one of the major sites of developing Autistic literary culture. Unlike other abilities, like the use of expressive language, talking, or understanding other people’s feelings, satire is a power that becomes stronger for us because we are presumed to be incapable of understanding or generating it. As much as I would love to discuss how that works in a panel on normalcy as dystopia (heaven knows I experience neurotypicality as more dystopian than anything), I also know that to do so is to blunt the cutting edge of one of the few blades we have.
Autistic author, engineer, and amazing human being Alyssa Hillary suggested to me that an anthology along these themes would make an outstanding Autonomous Press / Neuroqueer Books release. I’m thinking that, more than the academic angle, I think it would make an outstanding literary anthology: a place we can do satire, fiction, and poetry (the three genres we produce in reams despite being “incapable” of understanding them) that is its own explanation.