Melanie and Michael are presenting at the Cultural Rhetorics conference. The topic = Neuroqueer Rhetorics: Gazes, Spaces, and Relationships. Below, you can find the abstract for their panel, as well as links to two PDFs -- a handout with resources and the full-text of Melanie's talk.
Melanie's talk [PDF]
NQ handout: resources and bibliography [PDF]
AbstractIn her 2003 survey of the field of nonverbal communication, Karen Lovaas documented the absence of both quantitative research and theoretical consideration for queer experiences, pointing out that “If the first contact that a college student has with the subject of nonverbal communication is in the communication classroom, it is extremely likely that she or he will leave that classroom with the impression that all nonverbal scholarship is empirical and that queer subjects, bodies, gazes, spaces, and relationships either are unknown to nonverbal researchers or have been intentionally discursively erased by them.”
More than a decade after Lovaas's initial survey, there continues to be a dearth of studies that explore queer “gazes, spaces, and relationships” within the field (see also Alexander & Rhodes, 2012). The scarcity of material has become particularly conspicuous as rhetoric and writing studies has come to flourish as an interdisciplinary environment, intersecting with culture studies, identity studies, and communication studies along several dimensions.
Rhetorical studies’ elisions are, of course, notable along multiple axes of identity. For this reason, we propose a panel that examines the interstices of cultural rhetorics in relation to what we characterize as the neurologically queer, or neuroqueer. We propose that Neuroqueer theory seeks to correct discursive erasures by drawing together discussions of disability, neurotype, gender, race, sexuality, and communication style. It seeks to explore the unique presentations that multiply-queer individuals use both to express identity and to negotiate the larger social landscape that comes with participation in a society that does not yet ensure that all spaces are (to give a non-exclusive list) queer-friendly, disability-friendly, and/or trans*-friendly. It seeks to answer questions about how intentional and unintentional habits and communication styles are used to pass (or to remain closeted) along various identity axes, how the closeting and uncloseting of aspects of one's identity impact the presentations of other aspects of one's identity, and how the act of “coming out” along one axis can be a transformative experience along other axes of one's identity.
Comprising three academics who identify as both queer and disabled, our panel discussion explores the following questions: How do we theorize the neurologically queer? What ethical lapses surface when we take on the task of teasing out the multiply identified, when we find new and inventive ways of re-marginalizing the marginalized, all in the name of scholarly pursuit?
Using Lovaas’s framework, each panelist will examine Neuroqueer theory in relation to gazes, spaces, and relationships. Our initial discussion will map the boundaries of Neuroqueer theory, to establish its relationship to queer theory and disability theory, and to begin discussion on the immediate and pertinent questions that this new interpretive framework raises for the fields of rhetoric and culture studies.
Melanie and Michael will be using this opportunity to discuss the basic history of the word Neuroqueer to date, as well as to situate the various conversations around Neuroqueer within a larger discussion of neurodiversity, disability justice, and cultural representation. Together, they will discuss what it means to interpret through a neuroqueer gaze and what kinds of spaces are accommodating to the particular set of identity intersections that have come to be called Neuroqueer.
In addition to Melanie's paper and the abstract (above), transcripts of Michael's talks will be made available as they are prepared.