Eastern Michigan University
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Melanie Yergeau to Present at 2018 FYWP Winter Colloquium

Dr. Melanie Yergeau, associate professor in the Department of English at the University of Michigan, will keynote the EMU First-year Writing Program's 2018 Winter Colloquium on Friday, March 23, in Pray-Harrold 219. Yergeau will deliver a talk at 10:30 a.m., followed by a teaching workshop at 1 p.m. Both events are free and open to the public. A rhetoric and composition/writing studies scholar who specializes in disability rhetorics, digital writing, and neurodiversity, Yergeau is author of numerous scholarly works, including  Authoring Autism: On Rhetoric and Neurological Queerness , a 2017 monograph from Duke UP. 

10:30 a.m. Presentation
Black Mirror Meets the Classroom: Neurodiversity and Social Robots
Robots and mental disability have a complicated relationship. In this talk, I examine how therapy robots are being promised as techno-cures for neurodivergent people. Robotic companions are typically proffered as socializing agents for neurodivergent children and elders alike. Rhetorics of helping, access, and friendship are levied as means of making therapy robots seem like a new disability civil right, or a behavioral therapist 2.0, something that every student and teacher will eventually need. Far from being futuristic, I argue, these logics assume that disabled people are socially aberrant and require a normative social compass, one that has capacity to surveil and intervene 24-7. What assumptions about normalcy might a pedagogy of robots make of writers and communicators, disabled and non?

1 p.m. Teaching Workshop
Disability, Access, and Multimodal Pedagogies
In this workshop, we will think about the ways in which accessibility can serve as a guiding process in the design of our class discussions, assignments, and curricula. We will pay particular attention to multimodal composing, and the ways in which composing in digital or multi-sensory forms might enhance or limit broader student participation. In many ways, the interdisciplinary field of disability studies will serve as a guiding frame for our discussions. For example, how might we think about closed captioning — both as a text and as a composing practice — in classroom contexts? In what ways might trigger warnings, or other affective forms of descriptive writing, provide broader opportunities for discussion and analysis across disciplines? How might a turn to accessibility foster campus interest in social justice and community involvement?

For more information about the event, contact Derek Mueller, Director of the First-year Writing Program, at derek.mueller@emich.edu, or Rachel Gramer, Associate Director of the First-year Writing Program at rgramer@emich.edu

2018 FYWP Winter Colloquium Schedule (Pray-Harrold 219)
Friday, March 23, 2018
9 a.m. Coffee/ Welcome
9:30 a.m. Program Announcements and Teaching Porfolio Awards - Derek Mueller and Rachel Gramer
10:30 a.m. Melanie Yergeau, "Black Mirror Meets the Classroom: Neurodiversity and Social Robots" 
12 p.m. Lunch and conversation
1 p.m. Teaching Workshop
Melanie Yergeau, "Disability, Access, and Multimodal Pedagogies"

Melanie Yergeau to present "Black Mirror Meets the Classroom: Neurodiversity and Social Robots" at EMU FYWP Colloquium on March 23.