Syracuse University

11/08/2018 | News release | Distributed by Public on 11/08/2018 18:05

Author Ralph Savarese to Speak About His New Book ‘See It Feelingly’ Nov. 15 at Bird Library

Ralph Savarese will read from his new book, 'See It Feelingly: Classic Novels, Autistic Readers, and the Schooling of a No Good English Professor' (Duke University Press, 2018), on Thursday, Nov. 15, from noon to 1 p.m. in the Peter Graham Scholarly Commons, 114 E.S. Bird Library.

Savarese teaches American literature, creative writing, medical humanities and disability studies at Grinnell College in Iowa.

Syracuse University alumnus Jamie Burke '13 will be joining Savarese to discuss his participation in the book project, which paired Autistic readers with Savarese.

Since the 1940s, researchers have been repeating claims about Autistic people's limited ability to understand language, to partake in imaginative play and to generate the complex theory of mind necessary to appreciate literature. In 'See It Feelingly,' Savarese, whose son is one of the first nonspeaking autistics to graduate from college, challenges this view. Discussing fictional works over a period of years with readers from across the autism spectrum, Savarese was stunned by the readers' ability to expand his understanding of texts he knew intimately. Their startling insights emerged not only from the way their different bodies and brains lined up with a story but also from their experiences of stigma and exclusion.

Ralph Savarese

Savarese is also the author of 'Reasonable People: A Memoir of Autism and Adoption' (Other Press 2007), which Newsweek called a 'real life love story and an urgent manifesto for the rights of people with neurological disabilities.'

He has appeared in three documentaries about autism: 'Loving Lampposts, Living Autistic'; 'Finding Amanda'; and 'Deej.' The third follows his adoptive son, D.J., from eighth grade through his first year at Oberlin College, where he was the institution's first nonspeaking student with autism. The film's many honors include a Peabody Award and 'Best of Festival' at Superfest, the international disability film festival.

Savarese is recipient of numerous honors, including the Irene Glascock National Undergraduate Poetry Competition; the Hennig Cohen Prize from the Herman Melville Society for an 'outstanding contribution to Melville scholarship'; an Independent Publisher's Gold Medal for 'Reasonable People' in the category of health/medicine/nutrition; a Mellon Foundation 'Humanities Writ Large' fellowship supporting a yearlong residency at Duke University's Institute for Brain Sciences; two 'notable essay' distinctions in the Best American Essay series; two Pushcart Prize nominations; and a National Endowment for the Humanities summer fellowship.

For the Nov. 15 reading, American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation and Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) will be provided during the presentation. For other accommodation requests, contact [email protected]. Parking is available for a fee in the University Area Garage. A campus parking map is available online at //

The event is sponsored by the Burton Blatt Institute, the SU Disability Cultural Center, the Disability Studies Program, Syracuse University Libraries and the Disability Law & Policy Program.