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Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto

The Centre for Media and Culture in Education

Works in Progress Seminar Series, Session 3

Monday, February 4, 2-4 p.m.
OISE/University of Toronto
(@ St. George Subway Station)
252 Bloor St. West, 12th Floor
MEK Room, Room #12-105

This event is wheelchair accessible.

Patricia Douglas | PhD Candidate | HSSSJE, OISE/UT

As if you have a choice…”: Popular media representations of ‘Autism Mothers’ as feminine warriors, and the re/education of mother-subjects in late modernity

In this presentation, I think very seriously about dominant modes of ‘autism mother’ representation in popular media as a key cultural and pedagogical site implicated in the making of what counts as human in the context of late modernity. I work with images that appear within various ‘autism mother’ recruitment campaigns emanating globally from predominately white mother advocates of the US and the UK. Looking closely at these images, I reveal the emergence of the contradictory ‘feminine warrior’ figure, one that issues a ‘call to duty’ to mothers world-wide in the so-called war on autism. I suggest that this feminine warrior figure not only invites the re/education of mothers, but also intensifies the boundaries of femininity and ‘normal’ embodiment as bourgeois, nondisabled, white, and western. This hints at the proximity between discourses and subjectivities of disability, autism, race, and gender, and, therefore, between disability, feminist, critical race, cultural and post-colonial studies as political and intellectual movements importantly implicated in one another’s projects of liberation. The ‘feminine warrior’ is a very troubling figure with far-reaching socio-political implications about the viability of human life itself. Alongside medical, scientific, legalistic, and moral discourses around mothering, dominant western modes of ‘autism mother’ representation compel participation in increasingly limited, violent, and globalizing frames of gendered and normative embodiment for us all.

Dr. Bradley Rowe | Lecturer | HSSSJE, OISE/UT

Visualizing the animal-meat continuum, human-nonhuman activism, and the (post)human “gay animal”

This presentation has two parts. In the first part, I discuss the educative function of moving food animals to the center of our thoughts just as dead animals—as meat—are at the center of our plates. The consumption of animals is driven by a number of multifaceted historical and cultural forces, customs, and traditions. But we cannot deny the ubiquitous proliferation of meat images and advertisements in consumer culture: visuals that entice and tempt. Symbols of meat are everywhere, while the actual flesh-and-blood animals who become meat are hidden away in industrial feeding operations and slaughterhouses as dirty secrets. I argue for a visual pedagogy, exposing images of the animal-meat continuum—the conditions under which the animals we eat are reared and killed—in order to (1) call critical attention to this opaque domination, and to (2) encourage critical dialogue concerning the complexities behind school lunch, for instance. In the second part, I examine the relationship between LGBTQ activism and animal rights activism by interrogating a concrete case: this past summer’s Chik-Fil-A controversy over same-sex marriage. I use this particular example as a launching point for intersectional analysis of human and animal oppression.


The Works in Progress (WiP) Seminar Series provides students and faculty with a common forum within which to theorize, discuss, and debate issues in the areas of culture, media, media literacy, representation, technology, and education. The WiP Series provides a valuable space for students and faculty to share and discuss their current work in a supportive and constructive environment.

For more information, visit the facebook event page here.