Autism and the Myth of the Person Alone
NYU Press, 2005 - Psychology - 304 pages
Beginning in the mid nineteenth century in America, childhood became synonymous with innocence--a reversal of the previously-dominant Calvinist belief that children were depraved, sinful creatures. As the idea of childhood innocence took hold, it became racialized: popular culture constructed white children as innocent and vulnerable while excluding black youth from these qualities. Actors, writers, and visual artists then began pairing white children with African American adults and children, thus transferring the quality of innocence to a variety of racial-political projects—a dynamic that Robin Bernstein calls “racial innocence.” This phenomenon informed racial formation from the mid nineteenth century through the early twentieth.
Racial Innocence takes up a rich archive including books, toys, theatrical props, and domestic knickknacks which Bernstein analyzes as “scriptive things” that invite or prompt historically-located practices while allowing for resistance and social improvisation. Integrating performance studies with literary and visual analysis, Bernstein offers singular readings of theatrical productions from blackface minstrelsy to Uncle Tom’s Cabin to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz; literary works by Joel Chandler Harris, Harriet Wilson, and Frances Hodgson Burnett; material culture including Topsy pincushions, Uncle Tom and Little Eva handkerchiefs, and Raggedy Ann dolls; and visual texts ranging from fine portraiture to advertisements for lard substitute. Throughout, Bernstein shows how “innocence” gradually became the exclusive province of white children—until the Civil Rights Movement succeeded not only in legally desegregating public spaces, but in culturally desegregating the concept of childhood itself.
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IntroductionA Discussion of Methods
1Framing AutismDouglas Biklen
2I An Introduction to Sue Rubin
3I An Introduction to Tito Rajarshi Mukhopadhyay
4I An Introduction to Lucy Blackman
5I An Introduction to Larry Bissonnette
ability able actions Alberto answer asked Asperger Asperger syndrome attention Autistic person behavior Biklen Bissonnette Blackman body child classified as autistic College context contributing authors conversation describes difficulties disability disorders Donna Williams Douglas Biklen echolalia example experience explains eyes facilitated communication father feel felt Frugone Grandin hand hear idea interaction Jamie Burke Journal of autism Kanner labeled autistic language Larry Larry Bissonnette learning look Lucy Blackman Lucy’s Story MacGuffin meaning mental retardation mind mother movement Mukhopadhyay National Autistic Society observed one’s parents participation people’s perspective play problem qualitative research questions response Richard Attfield Rubin seemed sensory sentences situation social someone sound speak speech speech therapist Sue Rubin Syracuse University talk teacher things thought Tito Tito Mukhopadhyay told typing understand voice Vryan walk wanted words writing wrote