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MSU Literacy Colloquy


  • Dr. Peter Smagorinsky

    Monday, September 21st

    11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

    Erickson Room: 252

    Creativity and Community Among Autism-Spectrum

    Youth: Creating Positive Social Updrafts through Play

    and Performance Drawing on his own experiences on the autism spectrum (Aspergers syndrome) in conjunction with other

    disorders, Smagorinsky will address matters of inclusion for people of difference in school and other settings. Although the focus is on mental health difference, principles of inclusion may apply to other manifestations of physical, cultural, or other form of difference in relation to a presumed social and evolutionary norm. Drawing particularly on Vygotskys neglected work in defectologythe study of people who are blind, deaf, cognitively impaired, or otherwise outside the evolutionary normSmagorinsky extracts key principles to argue for the creation of positive social updrafts for youth of difference: social channels through which people of difference might be swept up into broader cultural streams such that they feel valued, appreciated, and empowered. Typically people of difference feel diminished by how they are treated by others, resulting in feelings of shame and inferiority that are more debilitating than the point of difference itself. Conventional language of deficit, disorder, abnormality, and related terms foreground what people lack rather than what they might become. Positive social updrafts enable full involvement in worthwhile cultural action, particularly among those who are considered to be social or cultural outsiders who might otherwise be limited in opportunities for legitimate social participation. Within these channels, play and performance are central means through which their human potential is cultivated by the support and respect accorded by others. This talk explores these issues and invites conversation around the construction of settings through which play and performance in authentic activity may help autistic youth and other people of difference realize their potential in life.

    Peter Smagorinsky is Distinguished Research Professor of English Education at The University of Georgia. He began his career as a hall monitor and substitute teacher in Trenton, NJ before getting credentialed at the U. of Chicago and teaching middle and high school English in Chicago and its suburbs from 1976-1990. He has taught English Education since 1990, first at Oklahoma and since 1998 at UGA.

    2015-2016 Literacy Colloquy Presentation