Why mythology and autism?

Why mythology and autism?

The idea for this project started to take shape at a meeting in 2008 with a special needs teacher, who mentioned that, in her experience and those of her colleagues, autistic children often enjoy classical myth. I began to wonder why this might be the case, and whether – as a classicist who researches, and loves, classical myth – there was anything I could contribute. I started this blog to report on my progress which was often sporadic until the launch of the Warsaw-based European Research Council-funded project Our Mythical Childhood (2016-21) to trace the role of classics in children’s culture. My key contribution to the project is an exploration of classics in autistic children’s culture, above all by producing myth-themed activities for autistic children. This blog shares my progress, often along Herculean paths.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

"It's all Greek to me: why every Jack needs a Giant" poster submission

Perseus and the Graiae Edward Burne-Jones 1877,
National Museum of Wales
I'm composing this posting having received some good news. I mentioned in my previous posting the unexpected responses generated by the posting I composed prior to that one.  This was the posting in response to the call for the HEA's "Heroes and Monsters" conference.  Last month, I decided to accept the HEA's invitation to submit a proposal for the event.  I've just heard that my proposal has been accepted. Here are the details of the proposal, for a poster.  I'll also include the (encouraging) comments of the anonymous reviewers, and will blog further down the line on the details of the final poster.

It's all Greek to me: why every Jack needs a Giant

On this conference's definition, monsters dwell in realms just beyond our own; they can come into our world to 'unnerve' us and 'innervate' us. Thus a 'monstrous pedagogy' can 'disrupt habits' and 'articulate...different ways of being'.

But who are 'we'? There is a suggestion running through the particulars that 'we' are the heroes, while it is the monsters who come into 'our' world to shake it up. This is expressed most of all in the explanation of one strand of the conference, 'Slayers, Scoobies and Watchers', which, noting that 'every Giant needs its Jack', 'celebrates the heroes who hold the line at the hellmouth by sharing tales of epic battles and vanquished learning and teaching demons'. But who are the monsters? What about the learner or teacher who is not trying to find space for otherness, but who is already different... other... a monster... Can a monster create a monstrous pedagogy, or does such a pedagogy get created for a monster, or even to vanquish a monster?

My poster will explore the potential of a 'disability studies' approach to disrupt the habits of academics from the perspective of my discipline: Classics. It will trace how the hero/monster metaphor can inform the quest for disruptive pedagogies. It will ask how a heroic pedagogy can be a monstrous one, citing the specific example of my ongoing project on autism and classical mythology.

Review 2
A very strong poster proposal which offers insightful and stimulating questions about disability and the academy.
Review 1
The poster promises to combine a critique of classical studies through the lens of what has sometimes been called 'disability studies'. As such, it will attract attention of a braid audience.