3/6/2020: “‘New Genres of Being Human’: World Making through Viral Blackness” by Ashleigh Greene Wade

Today’s #AntiAbleistComposition feature is “‘New Genres of Being Human’: World Making through Viral Blackness” by Ashleigh Greene Wade.

Source: Wade, Ashleigh Greene. “‘New Genres of Being Human’: World Making through Viral Blackness.” The Black Scholar: Journal of Black Studies and Research, vol. 47, no. 3, 2017, pp. 33-44.

Writing & Resisting: Owning Your Neurodivergent Process

As part of the Anti-Ableist Composition Collective’s Neurodivergent Literacies, Neurodivergent Writing Online Symposium

by Amy Gaeta

When you’re neurodivergent, it can sometimes be hard to love yourself, your ideas, and your writing. When you’re a student, your success too often depends on how well you can read and write to fit neurotypical standards. It took me a long time to realize this because, due to lack of funding and staff, the writing pedagogy at my undergraduate school was lacking. I got good grades and my writing was never a “problem.”

It wasn’t until the first year of my PhD program that a professor told me, cold and hard, they said “You’re not a good writer. Why do you write like stream of consciousness? Don’t you know where the subject goes and the verb goes in a sentence? You’re getting a PhD in English and you can even write the language properly.”

I didn’t understand. I was just writing what was in my head. Everyone told me that I had good ideas but that my writing lacked organization. What was wrong with my head? What happened between idea formation and the page? I just didn’t understand and I didn’t want to understand. I wanted to think like a “normal” so I could feel as if this academic world was made for minds like mine.

I examined my writing process. Wake up, throw down every sentence, fragment, image, etc. that comes to mind. Stop. Breathe. Go back in and make myself into Dr. Frankenstein, making a creature out of loose parts. There were no outlines or goals. No topic sentences or paragraphs. It was my brain on the page and it would not stop. 10 pages, 30, 50 pages of material for a 15 page paper. But yet I could only read a paragraph and hour and hell knows if I’d remember any of it. It may be hellish but it’s mine and it’s the only way I can.

Multiple professors told me this was my problem—I didn’t know how to write. But, there is no other way that I can write. One thing that is misunderstood about neurodivergent people is this: it is not that our preference to think and process differently, it isn’t just more comfortable for us. We cannot think and process any other way. Trying to write like a neurotypical is like trying to fly: I just can’t and I keep falling. And why fly when I can already get around by my own means?

That was 5 years ago. Today, I’m halfway through my dissertation, an award-winning composition instructor and writing center tutor, and a multiply-published author. I’m lucky as hell to have supportive, anti-ableist advisers – even if most days it feels as if I need to work ten times harder to read and write.

I’m sharing my story to set a goal: As a current and future educator, as well as a disability justice activist, I will do all I can to create more accessible and anti-ableist spaces for neurodivergent writers and readers. I will assure them that their writing process is valid, that they can communicate, and that their reading and writing skills do not define their value. My years of self doubt and confusion left me feeling worthless and depressed. I burned out and I’m still trying to regrow. In my regrowth, I want to prevent others from burning out like me. If I could say just one thing to neurodivergent readers and writers it would be this: Your reading and writing processes are yours and nobody can define it for or take it from you.

Call for Short Submissions: Neurodivergent Literacies, Neurodivergent Writing

The Anti-Ableist Composition Collective is now accepting short submissions for our upcoming Online Symposium on Neurodivergent Literacies, Neurodivergent Writing. The online symposium will feature short written blog posts (see below) as well as a series of live-Twitter chats. The topics for the Twitter chats will be announced soon, and the chats will take place between March 29 and April 1, 2020. Click here to access the original call for participation.

Your short submissions should be around 250-500 words in length, but if you go a little over or remain under the word count, that is perfectly fine. Just be mindful of the reviewers’ time and energy as this work is uncompensated.

Deadline: March 23, 2020 | If you need a more flexible schedule, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at antiableistcomposition@gmail.com. We will be happy to work with you on establishing a timeline that works for you. We will review and publish posts as they are submitted and as time allows us to review them.

There will be no formal editorial process. Once you submit your proposal, the Collective will read your draft and confirm that you are ready to publicly share this material on our website for visitors. If any minor changes need to be made to the draft prior to publication, we will be sure to communicate those changes with you and engage in a collaborative effort until the post is ready to publish.

Topics of Possible Interest

Submissions should try to address the broad concerns and questions outlined here, but these are not limitations for the work you can do. Please submit what you want to write that may fall under the broad umbrella of “literacy” (see definitions below).

• Since neurodivergence affects our lives every second of every day, how do we engage writing processes?

• How should race inform conversations on neurodivergence, mental disability, and literacy? How does anti-Black racism, for instance, necessitate an anti-racist approach to autism and neurodiversity?

• How do we write with our bodies? How are stims a form of literacy practice?

• How do we participate in writing projects that are collaborative? What are the best ways to promote collaboration with neurodivergent writers?

• What disability or neurodiversity activism work are you currently involved with in your communities?

• How can we re-imagine the university/higher education to be more accessible for neurodivergent students (undergraduate and graduate)?

• How can we re-imagine the university/higher education to be more accessible for neurodivergent faculty, staff, and instructors?

• How do deadlines and time constraints impact our writing processes? How do we “manage” our time in oftentimes very restrictive work/school environments?

• Can we describe our writing spaces? Where do we usually write? What spaces allow us to write more fully and embodied? How does space impact our writing practices?

• How do our sensory impressions impact our writing practices and literacy practices?

• What questions are missing? What would you like to add or question about the assumptions we (educators, academics, teachers, etc.) make about neurodivergent and autistic people’s writing, literacy, and reading?

What is literacy? What are literacies?

Historically, “literacy” has been defined as the “ability” to write or read. However, a lot of folks are moving away from this limited notion of literacy in order to promote a more inclusive understanding of literacy practices. Therefore, we welcome your own interpretation of “literacies” as you see, hear, feel, and sense them otherwise.

Some readings that might be helpful (if you are interested in reading more about “literacies”) are listed below. If you need access to the readings, reach out to us at antiableistcomposition@gmail.com and we can try to help you find access.

The header image for this post has a transparent background and dark blue (sentence-case) text that reads “Neurodivergent Literacies Neurodivergent Writing.”

2/29/2020: “Parasitic Publics” by Kyle R. Larson and George F. (Guy) McHendry, Jr.

Today’s #AntiAbleistComposition feature is “Parasitic Publics” by Kyle R. Larson and George F. (Guy) McHendry, Jr. published in the 49:5 issue of Rhetoric Society Quarterly.

About the authors

Kyle R. Larson is a PhD candidate at Miami University (OH) whose research and pedagogy focus on counter-public and social movement rhetorics. Kyle is a co-founder of the field-(re)shaping #nextGEN international graduate student email listserv.

George F. (Guy) McHendry, Jr. is an Associate Professor in the Communication Studies department. His PhD is from the University of Utah (MA from Colorado State University, BA from Ripon College).

Guy studies rhetoric and cultural studies within the discipline of communication. His research currently focuses on public performances of security in airports and the relationship between the public and the Transportation Security Administration. Guy is especially interested in how security and resistance is performed in airports and how those performances can dominate our ways of experiencing airports. When not in the classroom or working on an essay Guy can be found playing with his dogs, playing hockey, or trying out something new in the kitchen. For more information about Guy and his vitae, please visit his website at georgefmchendry.com.