Xiahui Lin

Authoring Autism

M. Remi Yergeau deconstructing the rhetoric of autism

As a rhetorician and as an autistic activist, M. Remi Yergeau dedicates their passion to the self-advocacy of autistic people by contesting the dominant rhetorics on autism as pathology and advocating for the representation of autistics in the rhetorical landscape.


M. Remi Yergeau Portrait - Photo from the faculty page of the University of Michegan: https://lsa.umich.edu/english/people/faculty/myergeau.html

M. Remi Yergeau (they/them/theirs) is an associate professor of Digital Studies and English at the University of Michigan. They also direct the Digital Accessible Futures Lab as a part of the DISCO Network, which is an interdisciplinary research and co-mentoring collective that centers crip wisdom, neuroqueer futures, and disability liberation in its engagement with the digital.

As an autistic academic, Yergeau's research contributes to the deconstruction of autism as pathology. They look at the social and cultural construct of autism by rhetorics, and explore the intersectionality of neurodiversity and queerness. They write extensively on rhetoric & writing studies, digital studies, queer rhetorics, disability studies and theories of mind. Their book Authoring Autism: On Rhetoric and Neurological Queerness (Duke UP), is a winner of the 2017 Modern Language Association First Book Price, the 2019 CCCC Lavender Rhetoric Book Award for Excellence in Queer Scholarship, and the 2019 Rhetoric Society of America Book Award.


Book_Authoring Autism On Rhetoric and Neurological Queerness -

Yergeau makes an introduction of their book as such,

“While this book is not about literal shit, it is about the figurative shit that contemporary autism discourse has flung upon autistic bodies. ­These shitty narratives persist, I argue, ­because their rhetorical power derives from the figure of the autistic as unknowable, as utterly abject and isolated and tragic, as a figure whose actions are construed less like actions and more like neuronally willed ­middle fin­gers.” 

Yergeau points out that autistic people's rhetoric, according to the point of view of the neurotypicals and in our biased everyday parlance, is a "fucked up language fand trickery". The author contests that putting their language as such has rhetorical embeddings of ethics, philosophy, cognitioin and politics, and worth more scrutiny.

While attacking the pathologizing rhetoric imposed on autistics, Yergeau puts it that these ableist rhetorics, at the same time, are entwined with the problematic rhetorics of racism, classism and heterosexism. Reflected in her work is the contribution to the concept of neuroqueer:

 “At root, ­these shitty narratives are rhetorical proj­ects: they apprehend neuroqueerness as interlocking series of socially complex ­impairments, impairments that impact the domains of relatedness, intent, feeling, sexuality, gender identity, and sensation—­indeed, all of that which might be used to call oneself properly a person.”

Neuroqueering, according to Yergeau, is a strategy of authoring the autistic rhetoric and contesting the existing discourse on the autistics mostly constructed by the neurotypicals.




Yergeau, M. m. remi yergeau. Retrieved July 18, 2023, from https://remiyergeau.com/

Digital Accessible Futures Lab. Retrieved July 18, 2023, from https://accessiblefutures.net/

Yergeau, M. (2017). Authoring Autism: On Rhetoric and Neurological Queerness. Duke University Press.