Writing about Intellectual Disability

February 10, 2020 -
5:00pm to 6:30pm

Abstract: How do you represent an experience that isn’t your own? All writers face this question, but the problem is especially fraught when writing about intellectual disability. People with intellectual disabilities have historically been marginalized and neglected. Those in power have assumed that they were literally incapable of speaking and advocating for themselves. How, then, do writers contend with this historical baggage, while still acknowledging the very real communication difficulties those with intellectual disabilities often face? How do we make space for them to represent themselves, while presenting their experiences to a wider audience in an effort to counter marginalization and neglect? Can effective writing about people with intellectual disabilities support their self-advocacy and help others hear them when they speak on their own behalf? Where can we, as a society, move in terms of policy and advocacy in addressing these concerns?

Marina Clementi and Boen Wang will present their attempts to address these questions by reading pieces of their creative nonfiction and discussing the choices they made while writing them. They will situate their work in the context of personal, historical, and medical approaches to writing about intellectual disability.

Location and Address

501 Cathedral of Learning