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Postgraduate Thesis: Autism: narrative and representation in postmodern fiction
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TitleAutism: narrative and representation in postmodern fiction
 
AuthorsLeung, Ching-man
梁靜雯
 
Issue Date2012
 
PublisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)
 
AbstractThis dissertation investigates autism as a form of disability in the literary and filmic worlds. It closely examines the narrative and representation of autism in two popular fictions, Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time and Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. I propose to employ a postmodern framework in reading Haddon’s and Foer’s works, and argue the texts manifest the influence of postmodernism in contemporary writings through exhibiting inter-disciplinary knowledge and transcending the boundary between textual and visual narrative. This dissertation demonstrates how the two novels, by constructing the imagined autistic narrators, and giving them the narrative voice, offer neurotypical readers new perspectives to perceive an alienated world in autistic lens, such that the autistic narrative contributes to a distinct reading experience. The two chosen novels are significant texts in constructing the popular perception about autism in view of their worldwide popularities. This dissertation investigates how the autistic subject is being constantly imagined, represented, misrepresented and fantasized as otherness in the two fictions, by drawing comparisons with the Hollywood cinema. I find that the characterization and plot formulation in the two novels largely conform to and further reinforce the conventional, stereotypical and monolithic representations of autism in the popular culture, in which people with autism are either victimized as tragic characters, or in contrast, spectacularized and romanticized as extraordinary savants. Through a critical review of autism in a broad cultural discourse, this dissertation further illustrates how autism emerges as a “transient disability” of the twenty-first century and functions as a cultural metaphor. People with autism are consistently portrayed as lonely aliens or emotionless computer cyborgs. Autism thus serves as a metaphorical and self-referential device to express the fear, anxiety and confusion towards the growing influence of computer technology and consumerism in postmodernity.
 
DegreeMaster of Arts
 
SubjectAutism in literature.
 
Dept/ProgramLiterary and Cultural Studies
 
DC FieldValue
dc.contributor.authorLeung, Ching-man
 
dc.contributor.author梁靜雯
 
dc.date.hkucongregation2012
 
dc.date.issued2012
 
dc.description.abstractThis dissertation investigates autism as a form of disability in the literary and filmic worlds. It closely examines the narrative and representation of autism in two popular fictions, Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time and Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. I propose to employ a postmodern framework in reading Haddon’s and Foer’s works, and argue the texts manifest the influence of postmodernism in contemporary writings through exhibiting inter-disciplinary knowledge and transcending the boundary between textual and visual narrative. This dissertation demonstrates how the two novels, by constructing the imagined autistic narrators, and giving them the narrative voice, offer neurotypical readers new perspectives to perceive an alienated world in autistic lens, such that the autistic narrative contributes to a distinct reading experience. The two chosen novels are significant texts in constructing the popular perception about autism in view of their worldwide popularities. This dissertation investigates how the autistic subject is being constantly imagined, represented, misrepresented and fantasized as otherness in the two fictions, by drawing comparisons with the Hollywood cinema. I find that the characterization and plot formulation in the two novels largely conform to and further reinforce the conventional, stereotypical and monolithic representations of autism in the popular culture, in which people with autism are either victimized as tragic characters, or in contrast, spectacularized and romanticized as extraordinary savants. Through a critical review of autism in a broad cultural discourse, this dissertation further illustrates how autism emerges as a “transient disability” of the twenty-first century and functions as a cultural metaphor. People with autism are consistently portrayed as lonely aliens or emotionless computer cyborgs. Autism thus serves as a metaphorical and self-referential device to express the fear, anxiety and confusion towards the growing influence of computer technology and consumerism in postmodernity.
 
dc.description.naturepublished_or_final_version
 
dc.description.thesisdisciplineLiterary and Cultural Studies
 
dc.description.thesislevelmaster's
 
dc.description.thesisnameMaster of Arts
 
dc.identifier.hkulb4833468
 
dc.languageeng
 
dc.publisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)
 
dc.relation.ispartofHKU Theses Online (HKUTO)
 
dc.rightsThe author retains all proprietary rights, (such as patent rights) and the right to use in future works.
 
dc.rightsCreative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Hong Kong License
 
dc.source.urihttp://hub.hku.hk/bib/B48334686
 
dc.subject.lcshAutism in literature.
 
dc.titleAutism: narrative and representation in postmodern fiction
 
dc.typePG_Thesis
 
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The two chosen novels are significant texts in constructing the popular perception about autism in view of their worldwide popularities. This dissertation investigates how the autistic subject is being constantly imagined, represented, misrepresented and fantasized as otherness in the two fictions, by drawing comparisons with the Hollywood cinema. I find that the characterization and plot formulation in the two novels largely conform to and further reinforce the conventional, stereotypical and monolithic representations of autism in the popular culture, in which people with autism are either victimized as tragic characters, or in contrast, spectacularized and romanticized as extraordinary savants.



Through a critical review of autism in a broad cultural discourse, this dissertation further illustrates how autism emerges as a &#8220;transient disability&#8221; of the twenty-first century and functions as a cultural metaphor. People with autism are consistently portrayed as lonely aliens or emotionless computer cyborgs. Autism thus serves as a metaphorical and self-referential device to express the fear, anxiety and confusion towards the growing influence of computer technology and consumerism in postmodernity.</description.abstract>
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