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The Elusive BrainLiterary Experiments in the Age of Neuroscience$
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Jason Tougaw

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780300221176

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300221176.001.0001

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Narrating Neurological Difference

Narrating Neurological Difference

(p.130) 4 Narrating Neurological Difference
The Elusive Brain

Jason Tougaw

Yale University Press

In this chapter, Tougaw examines novels by Christopher Haddon, Jonathan Lethem, and Tom McCarthy, all of which narrate neurological difference in fiction, translating traits associated with autism, Tourette’s, PTSD, amnesia, or Capgras into a narrative voice. As an aesthetic strategy, narrating neurological difference in fiction is fraught, likely to reinforce cognitive norms in some ways and challenge them in others. The chapter argues that the ethical questions raised by appropriating neurodivergent experience for the sake of aesthetic experiment are unresolvable, but important to consider. What we can—and should—learn from these novels is that the affordances and misfittings involved in the representation shape understandings the circulation of ideas about neurological difference. We won’t understand the potential of neurodiversity politics or the implications of neurodivergent identities unless we attend to the specific representational techniques that construct the cultural niches that make debates about the brain possible and necessary.

Keywords:   Narration, Neurological difference, Neuronovel, Neurodivergence, Representation

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