Date of Award

4-17-2008

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

First Advisor

Margaret Mills Harper - Chair

Second Advisor

Calvin Thomas

Third Advisor

Nancy Chase

Abstract

Within the field of Disability Studies, research on cognitive and developmental disabilities is relatively rare in comparison to other types of disabilities. Using Clifford Geertz's anthropological approach, "thick description," autism can be better understood by placing both fiction and non-fiction accounts of the disorder into a larger theoretical context. Applying concepts from existing works in Disability Studies to the major writings of Jacques Derrida, Julia Kristeva, Jacques Lacan, and Donna Haraway also proves to be mutually enlightening. This ethnographic approach within the context of analysis of literary texts provides a model by which representations of individuals who are cognitively or developmentally disabled can be included in the academy.

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