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Unpacking Moby Dick with Autistic Readers

An image from the book "Moby Dick," which Savarese read alongside readers with Autism.

This program originally aired on 10-23-18

As a Grinnell English professor, Ralph Savarese has been connecting with students through literature for many years. As a father, he also discovered that literature and poetry was a way to connect with his son, David James Savarese, who is a poet and essayist. His son is also autistic and non-speaking.

The father-son literary connection inspired Savarese to use literature as way to explore how other people with autism think and see the world. The result is the new book, See It Feelingy: Classic Novels, Autistic Readers and the Schooling of a No Good English Professor.

In this hour of Talk of Iowa, Savarese discusses how his new book deconstructs common perceptions about communication, language comprehension, and emotional aptitude as they relate to autism through his own experiences reading pieces of classic literature including Moby Dick with people from across the autism spectrum.

Savarese is also the author of  Reasonable People: A Memoir of Autism and Adoption and has co-edited or contributed to many publications including Disability Studies Quarterly and Seneca Review. He will read from his newest book at Prairie Lights Bookstore in Iowa City on Thursday, October 24.

Katelyn Harrop is a producer for IPR's River to River and Talk of Iowa
Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa