Neurodiversity and the Practice of World-making

An Interdisciplinary Symposium at Brown University

Thursday May 2 – Friday May 3, 2019

Leeds Theater, Lyman Hall
Providence, RI

This two-day interdisciplinary symposium will feature performances, lectures, roundtable discussions and workshops exploring the emerging concepts of neurodiversity and neurodivergence – terms originally developed by autistic activists and mental health self-advocates seeking to destigmatize autism and other forms of mental, neurological and cognitive disability and difference.


Melanie Yergeau is an associate professor of English at the University of Michigan. Her academic interests include digital rhetoric and disability studies, and, more specifically, what the neurodiversity movement has to teach us about learning, writing, and being. Her book, Authoring Autism: On Rhetoric and Neurological Queerness, was published by Duke University Press in 2018. She served on the board of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN), a nonprofit organization run for and by autistic people, as well as the board of the Autism National Committee (AutCom).

Lydia X. Z. Brown is a disability justice advocate, attorney, and writer. Lydia recently completed a term as Chairperson of the Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council, serving in that role from 2015 to 2017 as the youngest appointee nationally to chair any state developmental disabilities council. In collaboration with E. Ashkenazy and Morénike Giwa-Onaiwu, Lydia is the lead editor and visionary behind All the Weight of Our Dreams, the first-ever anthology of writings and artwork by autistic people of color, published by the Autism Women’s Network in June 2017.

Cyree Jarelle Johnson is a writer living in New York City. His first book of poetry SLINGSHOT will be published by Nightboat Books in 2019. His work has appeared recently in The New York Times and WUSSY. He is a founding member of The Harriet Tubman Collective and The Deaf Poets Society.

Hamja Ahsan is an activist, writer, curator and artist based in London. He is the author of Shy Radicals: The Antisystemic Politics of the Militant Introvert, commissioned by Book Works as part of its Common Objectives series.

Diana Paulin is Associate Professor of American Studies and English at Trinity College in Hartford, CT. She is working on a new project on race and autism.

Spectrum Theatre Ensemble (Providence RI) The Spectrum Theatre Ensemble is a group of theatre artists, both neurotypical and on the autism spectrum, based in Providence, RI. The company was founded in 2017 by Clay B. Martin, PJ Miller, and a diverse group of individuals who share a common belief: that the theatre provides a unique venue for the understanding and inclusion of all, and that our society and culture are stronger for it. By producing relevant and high-quality productions and workshops, STE aims to engage both artists and audience to develop social skills, empathy, and understanding, and to spread the message of inclusion all over the world.


Department of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies; Cogut Humanities Initiative; Brown Arts Initiative; Pembroke Center; Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity; Division of Campus Life