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Dyslexic writers and the idea of authorship

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Much of the research on dyslexia and writing explores dyslexia as a deficit. When it is through the historically famous or in comparison to non-dyslexic people, the researcher starts with an idea of what dyslexia is and seeks to identify it; for example, by evidence of orthographic aberration in their writing. The purpose of this study was to draw on critical theory from outside the dyslexia literature which rejects the principle that the relation between author and text is simple and transparent. This is with a view to understand both the context in which the work was written, but also acknowledges the reader’s role in interpretation, or the ‘relation of address’. Moving away from the assumption that the dyslexic must ‘overcome’ dyslexia to write, the research draws on autobiographical writing by contemporary dyslexic writers. I argue that these reveal how mistakes and imprecision are connected with a love for language and the imagination. While traditionally dyslexia has been depicted from the viewpoint of non-dyslexic people as a ‘suffering’, as in – one is thought to ‘suffer from dyslexia’ – these representations of dyslexia suggest suffering is not simply ‘there’, as something one ‘has’. Dyslexic writing therefore provides insight, not into the pathology of the author, but what the binary of inclusion/exclusion means to them.

Keywords: author; authorship; autobiography; dyslexia; dyslexic; representation

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Goldsmiths, University of London

Publication date: March 28, 2012

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  • The Journal of Writing in Creative Practice is the official organ of the Writing Purposefully in Art and Design (Writing PAD) network. It offers art and design institutions an arena in which to explore and develop the notion of thinking through writing as a parallel to visual discourse in art and design practice. The journal aims to extend the debates to all national and international higher educational art and design institutions.
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